On the Road AgainJanuary 1, 2013

10 Things You Need to Know About Business and Group Travel By
January 1, 2013

On the Road Again

10 Things You Need to Know About Business and Group Travel

Bozicevich,Diane-OmegaWorldTravelDiane Bozicevich, SMMC, is vice president of corporate operations at Omega World Travel, where she is responsible for upholding the company’s reputation for high quality over corporate operations across the United States. Omega World Travel is a global travel management company headquartered in Fairfax, VA. In addition, Bozicevich oversees Omega’s global 24-hour Emergency Service, Mega Housing Management and Strategic Meetings Management. Bozicevich may be reached at dianeb@owt.net or 800-969-4152.

Business people on the road never have it easy, but if you are a frequent traveler, a road warrior as they say, you probably know all the workarounds for getting to your event and back again quickly and efficiently. The same may not be said for the unsuspecting, occasional business traveler. The nuances of travel can challenge even the most stalwart. Here are just a few surprises the unwary, and yes, weary, not-so-frequent traveler might encounter. They may even surprise a few of the more seasoned travelers as well.

1. Hey, I thought my baggage was checked through to Moscow?

International travelers might be surprised to learn that they are expected to retrieve their baggage after the first leg of an international flight and have it cleared again for their final destination. This adds time, inconvenience and weariness to an already long trip. It typically happens when the carrier for the second portion of a trip is not in an alliance with the carrier for the first part. For example, a Delta flight out of Chicago that connects to Aeroflot in London could experience this inconvenience. If you are traveling internationally, be sure to confirm whether you need to check baggage personally mid-way through your trip. Also, if you change your itinerary en route, you had better make sure your bags are also redirected!

2. I paid for that seat. You have to get me on this plane, or I’ll miss my meeting!

Overbooking is an ongoing issue. An airline with 100 seats on a flight will sell 120 as part of their inventory management strategy. Their goal is to fill every seat. Your goal is to conduct business with 100 percent accuracy. Sometimes these goals conflict, and if you have a less expensive seat on the plane, you are most likely to get bumped. Consider paying for a premium seat if you absolutely must get to your destination on time and cannot take an earlier flight to do so.

3. Long security lines. Scanners. Take off my shoes. Get me out of this nightmare!

Getting through security these days is like getting mugged. If you expect to travel even occasionally, it might be worth your time to investigate two U.S. government programs that offer expedited screening. With TSA Pre, eligible participants use dedicated lanes for faster screening. With Global Entry, participants proceed to kiosks at 25 international airports to expedite travel. Prescreening is required for both. Although there is no minimum number of trips to be considered for these programs, not all airports participate in the domestic version. As they say, “restrictions apply.” Learn more at TSA.gov for the domestic version and GlobalEntry.gov for the international one.

4. What?!? Why did my company receive a $1,200 invoice after my latest international trip?

Changes in destination while en route during an international business trip lead to adjustments in airfare that every traveler anticipates and expects. Computers calculate the fare differential and payment is made at the time of travel. However, airlines audit those changes after an international trip is complete, and can make rate adjustments. Why? Airlines no longer back rate quotes on those trips. The traveler who is in Madrid with a ticket to Moscow, but who changes plans and must travel to London instead, could be billed again with a reassessment long after returning to the U.S., and has no recourse but to pay.

5. What do you mean, I can’t board my plane to Munich?

If it has been awhile since you used your passport, check to make sure your name is precisely as it appears on any of your other travel documents — such as your driver’s license and ticket. If a traveler’s passport says, “Thomas John Smith,” but his driver’s license identifies him as “T.J. Smith,” or even “Tom Smith,” it can lead to difficulties, delays, or even outright refusal for permission to travel abroad.

6. What happened to my frequent flyer points?

Many airlines are now “on board” with the need for travelers’ identification documents to align. If the name on your ticket does not match the way you are registered for your frequent flyer account, you stand the chance of losing credit for the mileage on that trip.

7. How could you give away my room? It was guaranteed!

If you have not notified your hotel of your late arrival, they can resell the room for which you also will be billed. The hotel assumes you will be a no-show. If the room is guaranteed, they will send you to a sister property, with cab fare. If your flight is delayed, contact the hotel to secure your reservation. If you are scheduled for late arrival, make sure the hotel was notified of this at the time of booking.

8. I’ve been in the air 12 hours. I have a room reservation. Why can’t I get into it?

Travelers on extended international trips — such as DC to Beijing — can encounter problems if the wrong night is booked for arrival. If you’re arriving in Bangkok at 1 a.m. Tuesday, book a room for Monday night and notify the hotel that you are arriving to their property at 2 a.m. so the room is ready, and you don’t have to spend a night, after an exhausting flight, in the lobby.

9. Hey, the rest of my group is boarding this flight. You can’t bump two of us.

Yes, the airlines can — and will. Group travel, such as a Hawaii sales incentive trip, that is booked at a reduced fare could mean vulnerability if two people in your party show up at the very last minute to board. Every passenger has a status, and those in cheap seats who don’t have a substantial frequent flyer presence with that airline, might be vulnerable to getting bumped. Arrive on time, or early, to ensure a seat.

10. The flight is cancelled? I can’t be late for tomorrow’s meeting!

Travel early in the day to get to your important meeting tomorrow on time. Weather, mechanical delays and other disruptions often back up flights. Your ticket only guarantees that you will get to your destination. It doesn’t guarantee arrival on the date that is printed on the ticket.  I&FMM

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