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concur_logoYapta today announced that it has closed a $4.2 million Series D funding round with the option to raise an additional $2 million over the next 90 days.  The financing round was led by Concur (Nasdaq: CNQR), the leader in integrated travel and expense management solutions, through the Concur Perfect Trip Fund.

“This funding will enable us to build upon our investment in FareIQ, further strengthening our position as the industry leader in Intelligent Price Tracking for corporate airfare,” said James Filsinger, CEO of Yapta. “Not only will we be able to expedite sales and the implementation cycles for our customers, but we will enhance our sales and marketing efforts and pursue other opportunities in corporate price tracking.”

FareIQ’s patent-pending Intelligent Price TrackingTM technology provides in-depth, 24×7 analysis and insights into corporate airfares, spotlighting opportunities to re-book tickets at lower prices, saving corporations crucial T&E dollars on a daily basis.  The solution integrates seamlessly with agents’ workflow by dynamically monitoring pricing on individual passenger name records (PNRs) that are placed on a queue by the corporation or its travel management company.  Upon recognizing a savings opportunity, FareIQ immediately issues a series of messages, including email alerts, a FareIQ web portal notification, and remarks posted directly in the PNR, that enables those savings to be acted upon by an agent or a travel manager.  To date, FareIQ customers have saved a combined total of more than $1 million in airfare.

“The Yapta team has done an excellent job of building and servicing the FareIQ customer base consisting of high-profile enterprise organizations and leading travel management organizations,” said John Torrey, Executive Vice President, Corporate Strategy at Concur.  “Our additional investment in Yapta will enable the organization to build upon their initial success and continue to bring airfare price tracking to the forefront of travel management best practices.”

Hot Days in NYC Mean Cheap jetBlue Flights

thermometerjetBlue is cashing in on the summer heat in New York City, offering  90% off on some tickets on days the temperature hits 90 degrees Fahrenheit.  On days the thermostat reaches 90 degrees in Central Park, jetBlue will release the Hot Seats promo codes.  The tickets are good for round-trips from JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark to about 50 destinations.  The promotion runs through July 20th.

And for those of you who do not live in The Big Apple, jetBlue is currently in the final hours of another 48-hour sale, called “The Bet Your Autumn Dollar Sale.”  Yep, you guessed it – the discount is for Fall travel dates (September 3 – November 20), but you gotta book by midnight tonight.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Marriott Rewards and United MileagePlus, the loyalty program of United Airlines, are joining forces to provide the most loyal members of both the hotel and airline loyalty programs with new travel benefits.  A joint program called “Rewards Plus” will offer Marriott Rewards Platinum Elite members the additional benefit of MileagePlus Silver level status.
  • There’s a new service called Easynest that has found a way – albeit a creepy way – to save 50% on their hotel stay.  The site capitalizes on the fact that most hotel rates are based on double occupancy, whether or not there are two occupants.  By finding someone to share the room and the cost – which Easynest does – rates are cut in half.
  • Uber, the popular taxi-hailing service, has become the first company to be approved under New York’s new pilot program, which will allow selected companies to offer smartphone apps that let customers hail a cab from their phones.  A big win for technology and making travel easier!

FareIQ logoYapta announced a milestone earlier this week.   It’s enterprise customers using FareIQ, Yapta’s corporate airfare price tracking solution, have saved a combined total of more than $1 million in airfare.  To date, companies that have chosen to have their airfare prices tracked independently by FareIQ have saved an average of $159 per itinerary.

“FareIQ has revealed a significant area of uncharted savings for our corporate travel clients,” said Michel Botbol, COO of Ultramar, a FareIQ solution provider.  “We are constantly looking at innovative technologies that reduce our client’s travel spend, and FareIQ’s ability to deliver actionable pricing data on each PNR has shown it can have a material impact from an overall cost savings standpoint.  The solution’s fully transparent and detailed reporting provides essential validation and accountability of the actual bottom line savings.  We’re excited to introduce this intelligent price tracking technology to additional customers, providing them with greater visibility into price volatility and the ability to act on any potential savings.”

FareIQ’s patent-pending Intelligent Price TrackingTM technology provides in-depth, 24×7 analysis and insights into corporate airfares, spotlighting opportunities to re-book tickets at lower prices, saving corporations crucial T&E dollars on a daily basis.  The solution integrates seamlessly with agents’ workflow by dynamically monitoring pricing on individual passenger name records (PNRs) that are placed on a queue by the corporation or its travel management company.  Upon recognizing a savings opportunity, FareIQ immediately issues a series of messages, including email alerts, a FareIQ web portal notification, and remarks posted directly in the PNR, that enables those savings to be acted upon by an agent or a travel manager.

“While enabling our FareIQ customers to achieve $1 million in airfare savings is a significant milestone for Yapta, it represents just a fraction of the total dollars that could be saved if every company took advantage of our innovative solution,” said James Filsinger, President and CEO of Yapta. “Driven by our singular purpose to save our customers money, FareIQ is able to deliver hard dollar savings that can have a significant impact on the bottom line.  For example, a company that spends $10 million a year on air travel could see savings of more than $30,000 every month.  Tracking airfare prices with FareIQ should be a part of every corporate travel program’s best practices.  Any large travel organization that is not using FareIQ, I guarantee is leaving money on the table.”

Companies adopting FareIQ are also seeing an opportunity to save on more than 10% of their overall itineraries.  To date, FareIQ has tracked nearly $160 million in airfare spend for its customers.  Any savings identified by FareIQ on behalf of its customers are over and above any airline imposed change fees and agency re-booking fees, ensuring customers see true value to their bottom line.

For more information on how FareIQ can deliver real savings to managed travel programs, visit FareIQ.Yapta.com.

Another jetBlue 48-hour Sale Announced

48-hour salejetBlue today announced a 48-hour sale, called “The Once-In-A-Blue-June Sale,” that is offering one-way flights starting at $74.  It’s pretty rare that jetBlue launches a second 48-hour sale in a single month – which may be why they are riffing from the “once in a blue moon” adage – so we figured it was still worth noting here.

If you’re interested in taking advantage of the cheaper fares, you need to book by midnight (okay, actually 11:59 pm) on June 19th.  All fares include taxes and fees – and are good for travel from July 9 through September 25.  Of course, due to the busy summer travel season, there are day-of-week restrictions, travel window exceptions, and blackout dates.  However, you won’t find these fares on Expedia, Orbitz, Hotwire – or any other online travel agency – and you may not see another sale on summer flights.

Fares include government taxes and fees.
Book by June 19, 2013 (the earlier of 11:59 PM ET or local time).
Fares not available on Expedia, Hotwire, Orbitz, CheapTickets, Travelocity, Priceline or LowestFare.
Travel July 9 through September 25, 2013. (Day of week restrictions, travel window exceptions, and blackout dates apply and vary by route.)
Click on a fare for details.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • A new report called the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), released its annual report on U.S. airlines, hotels and restaurant chains on Tuesday – and the finding were not pretty for the airline industry.  The report ranked the airline industry at the bottom of the list of the 43 industries the ACSI covers, barely beating out perennial cellar dwellers, subscription TV service  and Internet service providers.
  • According to Priceonomics, rooms and apartments available on Airbnb are often significantly cheaper than what hotels charge. In a study compiling the median rental price points of hotel rooms and Airbnb options (both entire apartment rentals and private rooms in occupied apartments), Airbnb consistently beat  hotels in cities across the country. On average, Airbnb apartment rentals are 21.2% less expensive than hotel rooms, and a private room in an apartment is on average 49.5% cheaper.
  • If you want to save money on vacation flights this summer, the USA Today has detailed several booking dates that you should be aware of. These are the dates when airlines quietly decide that the peak summer season is over and they lower their prices.

jetBlue Kicks Off 48-Hour Travel-Bug Sale

jetblue-logoIf you like things short and sweet, then you’ll appreciate the 48-hour “Travel-Bug Sale” that jetBlue launched today.  The airline has got one-way fares to a number of their destinations starting at $59.  For example, a flight from New York (JFK) to Martha’s Vineyard (MVY) is only $59 – which would make a nice getaway vacation.

According to jetBlue, you won’t find these fares at online travel agencies like Expedia, Hotwire, Priceline.  To take advantage of the sale, you need to go to jetBlue.com and book by June 5, 2013.  Travel is good through September 25, 2013.  Of course, there’s day of week restrictions, travel window exceptions, and blackout dates – but what do you expect for 59 bucks?

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Here’s another reminder that you should always keep your seat belt buckled on an airplane.  A recent Singapore Airlines flight experienced sudden and severe turbulence – right in the middle of food & coffee service.  The flight fell more than 65 feet and left a chaotic mess. Wanna see?
  • Executive Travel magazine recently spotlighted “the world’s best airport spas“.  You may be interested to know that spas at Newark airport and at JFK were included.

Sdeal-glassavvy travelers know that the best airfare deals are only sometimes available on the airlines’ own websites, and many of them come in the form of promo-code deals and special offers.  You can only get these, in some cases, if you sign up for alerts and emails directly from the airlines.  However, since many airlines make it a bit challenging to find where to sign up for alerts, here’s a handy list published by USA Today for your reference:

AirTran: Frequent promo-code deals that are individually generated (but you can sometimes forward them to friends and they work for them as well)

Alaska: Weekly discount promo-code offers, usually in the 10% range.

American: Must register for the AAdvantage program. You can register separately for their DealFinder program, but we haven’t seen too many enticing offers lately.

Delta: Must register for the SkyMiles program. Sale announcements including weekend fares.

Frontier: Sale announcements including weekend fares.

Hawaiian: Register for the “Low Unadvertised Fares Email” located on the airline’s website. Special website-only deals and other sale announcements.

jetBlue: Promo-code sale fares, sometimes 20% off or $30 off; also, sometimes incredible deals that are available on the website only, such as a recent $14 coast-to-coast sale.

Southwest: Incredible 50% off promo-code deals and other fare sales.

Spirit: Spirit’s loyalty program ($9 Fare Club) involves a yearly fee. Promo-code offers and wacky sales with fares as low as $2 plus tax.

United: Must register for the Mileage Plus program. No longer sends out weekly weekend fare emails but offers other sale announcements, usually no great shakes.

Virgin America: Must register for the Elevate loyalty program to get alerts. Best deal they’ve had so far was a 2-for-1 offer, but we’ve seen 35% promo-code deals as well.

United: Must register for the Mileage Plus program. No longer sends out weekly weekend fare emails but offers other sale announcements, usually no great shakes.

Virgin America: Must register for the Elevate loyalty program to get alerts. Best deal they’ve had so far was a 2-for-1 offer, but we’ve seen 35% promo-code deals as well.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Between May 17-23, airport security officers uncovered a record 65 firearms on passengers boarding planes, surpassing the previous record high of 50 guns. The TSA reported 54 of the guns found at airport security checkpoints around the country were loaded and another 19 had rounds chambered.
  • If you’re one that lives by the numbers, you’ll appreciate this factoid.  A new study of more than seven million commercial aircraft fights has concluded the odds of having a medical emergency on your plane are 604 to 1 and the chances of ending up at a different airport as a result are about 8,500 to 1. The likelihood of someone dying during your flight: 240,000 to 1.
  • Do you think air travel is getting more expensive?  Well, think again.  Compared to 10 years ago, we’re actually paying less.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, average air fare costs peaked in 2000 at $449 a flight, and have been dropping or stable ever since. In 2008, the year baggage fees were introduced, flights averaged $377. By the end of 2012, the average plane ticket cost $374.

Wanna board early? Start packing lightly

bagsIt’s happening on an airplane right now.  A traveler with a massive piece of carry-on luggage is wrestling with it in the aisle – positioning it for the big lift to the overhead bin.  Meanwhile the following passengers are left waiting in line to watch this feat of strength and engineering before they can get to their seat.  It’s this scenario that has pushed American Airline to announce a new boarding policy this week that allows passengers with one carry-on item that fits under the seats to board planes earlier than others who require overhead bins.   AA tested the new boarding process earlier this year at a number of airports around the country and it has proven to improve on-time performance, while being easier and more enjoyable for passengers.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • The results of the annual J.D. Power & Associates study on airline satisfaction were recently published, revealing that JetBlue and Alaska Airlines have once topped the industry rankings.  (Not surprising considering they have the friendliest re-booking policies in the industry.)  This is the eighth consecutive year that JetBlue has ranked as the top low-cost carrier.  Meanwhile, Alaska Airlines was named the top network carrier for the sixth straight year.  Surprisingly,  the 2013 survey also found that passengers are the happiest they’ve been in seven years with domestic airlines in general.  Really?
  • According to preliminary data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, for the third consecutive year Delta Air Lines beat out all other U.S. airlines in checked baggage and reservation change fees.  Out of a total of more than $6 billion in fees collected by all reporting U.S. airlines, Delta took home more than $1.6 billion.
  • An American Airlines flight from L.A. to New York had to make an emergency stop in Kansas City because a passenger had to let her inner Whitney Houston out.  Here’s a rather humorous video of the passenger being removed from the flight because she wouldn’t stop singing, “I will always love you.”  Even when the cops were hauling her off, she belted out the tune.  Feel free to sing along.

JetBlue Launches 48-Hour Airfare Sale

Flights on the CheapDo you have a far-away graduation to attend?  Or do you need to be somewhere for Memorial Day?  Well, if you need to fly and you haven’t booked a ticket yet in hopes of finding a low price, now may be your chance.  JetBlue just announced a 48-hour sale on select flights to various destinations around the United States and the Caribbean.  There are a number of one-way flights priced less than $100 – and you won’t find these fares on Yapta, Expedia, Orbitz, CheapTickets, Travelocity, Priceline or LowestFare – so it’s worth a look.  However, you need to book before May 8th by 11:59 PM.  Travel is good from May 21 through June 19, 2013.  Blackout dates apply: May 23-27.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • If you’re planning to fly Denver-based Frontier Airlines, you better bring some cash.  The airline announced last week that it would begin charging passengers $25-$100 who book tickets on third-party websites – like Expedia and Orbitz – for bringing their bags onboard the flight.  Passengers who purchase tickets on Frontier’s website will incur no additional charge for a carry-on bag.  They will also begin charging economy passengers $1.99 for coffee, tea and juice – starting July 1.
  • Did you know that there are marathons that are run on airport runways?  Me neither.  In fact, there’s a bunch of them.  If you’re interested, here’s a list of seven upcoming runway runs, six in the US and one in Canada.
  • Google is getting their own airport.  The company’s top executives needed a place to store their private jets, so they struck an agreement that allows them to build an $82 million fixed base operation at San Jose International Airport, including an executive terminal, seven hangars, ramp space for converted airliners and servicing facilities.  You could call that a perk.

Getting LuckyAre you a flirt at 30,000 feet?  If so, you may be interested in a new program from Virgin America called Seat-To-Seat Delivery service.  The service allows passengers to purchase regular or alcoholic beverages as well as food for another passenger on the plane and pass along a text message using the Red touchscreen terminals attached to the back of each seat.  Names are not included on the terminal screen, only a grid showing all seats on the plane. The passenger sending a text message, drink or meal will have to make sure which seat their intended recipient is sitting in before completing the purchase.

Beyond flirting between passengers, this service will be particularly helpful for families or large groups that are on the same plane, but spread among several sections.  However, if you’re looking to score, Sir Richard Branson has some tips for you.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Earlier today The House passed a bill that grants the FAA authority to use up to $253 million from various accounts to avoid reduced staffing and operations through September 30th.  Because of the sequester — the $85 billion in across-the-board budget cuts that went into effect in March — the FAA on Sunday began furloughs of 47,000 employees, leading to flight significant delays. The bill passed today should avert those furloughs, as well as the closures of small airport towers.  Now only if they can figure out some way to get mail delivered on Saturdays.
  • A new system has been developed by a New York company called Plusgrade that works with airline reservation computers to hold online auctions for upgrades to premium cabins.  Ten airlines around the world are using it, and more are considering it.  And it’s not just business-class seats that are on the auction block.  El Al Airlines of Israel is also auctioning off empty middle seats.  Winning bids have average $150–a fair price to pay for many eager to have extra space on long flights.  Winning bids for upgrades from coach to business class average $800 – a great deal for a seat that typically is priced at several thousand dollars.
  • This week, United Airlines jacked up fees on passengers who need to adjust travel plans.  For flights within the U.S., customers must fork over at least $200 (up from $150) for changing tickets.  The carrier raised the change fee on certain international flights as well, from $250 to $300 for many routes to South America.  Don’t confuse these “change fees” with “rebooking fees” – which remain unchanged.  Change fees are applied when you change the time or date of your flight.  Rebooking fees are applied when you want to rebook your ticket at the lower available price (which Yapta conveniently alerts you to with all rebooking fees taken into consideration).

Bye-Bye Mini-Bar

mini-bar goneThe mini-bar.  The name itself makes you feel like you’re almost at your favorite watering hole.  Except for the fact that it’s five-times as expensive, and there’s nobody to keep you company.  Although mini-bar prices have always been high, they’re actually a sunk cost for many hoteliers.  So, large chains such as Hyatt, Marriott and Hilton have either started scrapping them – or have already abandoned them entirely.  Weary travelers looking for a convenient late-night snack or drink will now be forced to rely on vending machines or high-end hotel shops.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

Authorities are warning of a continuing scam, offering round-trip airline tickets, that has circulated in the mail since at least last summer. Here’s how it works: Scammers mail you a photocopied check (from “Travel Union of Scottsdale, AZ”) with an offer to exchange the check for “tickets to anywhere in the continental U.S. from any major international U.S. airport.”
People who respond are either asked for their credit card information, or are asked to attend a travel club presentation with a membership fee of several thousand dollars. Bottom line: If it’s too good to be true, it ofen is.
  • The Los Angeles International Airport has launched a new program called Pets Unstressing Passengers (PUP) with the intent to calm nervous passengers waiting for flights.  Now that’s a program that sounds dog-gone good.
  • Authorities are warning of a continuing scam, offering round-trip airline tickets, that has circulated in the mail since at least last summer. Here’s how it works: Scammers mail you a photocopied check (from “Travel Union of Scottsdale, AZ”) with an offer to exchange the check for “tickets to anywhere in the continental U.S. from any major international U.S. airport.” People who respond are either asked for their credit card information, or are asked to attend a travel club presentation with a membership fee of several thousand dollars. Bottom line: If it’s too good to be true, it often is.
  • According to the New York Times, Dollar Rent a Car and Thrifty don’t always drop rental car insurance when you verbally decline it.  Instead, they often have you sign the rental agreement with insurance added – and when you try to dispute it later, they point to your John Hancock.  Some people have filed lawsuits on the matter – so pay attention to the rental agreement up front and you’ll possibly save some money, frustration and hassle.