Forbes Travel Newsletter – January 2018

News and Information

World’s airports need to confront pending crisis

The warning that many of the world’s airports are operating at or beyond their design capacity came recently from IATA chief Alexandre de Juniac. The provision of air navigation services in the US, Europe and China is struggling to keep pace with the technical capabilities to manage demand at optimum efficiency, and governments are not preparing to make investments needed to cope with future growth, especially as major infrastructure planning cycles are now measured in decades.

Mr de Juniac also indicated there is also a crisis in the cost of infrastructure, particularly within Europe. In Europe, over the last decade, passenger charges on the average one-way ticket have more than doubled—from roughly $25 to $50. But over the same period the airfare portion of the average ticket price fell. He went on to say, “Airlines are subjected to intense competition. So they are in a constant search for the efficiencies needed to make a more compelling price offering to their customers. Airports, on the other hand, are not subjected to the same competitive pressures. With very few exceptions, there is no choice of airports.”

“Airports are critical partners for airlines. Without them, airlines would literally have no place to take their passengers. And we are working in partnership with airports to make improvements in key areas such as security, the environment, and the passenger experience. Our goal is to find a regulatory regime that fairly balances the interests of airports, passengers, airlines, citizens and the economy.”

Beijing’s visa-free period for travellers increased to 144 hours

China has extended its visa-free period for travellers passing through the Beijing region to 144 hours (6 full days).

Six points of arrival in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Region, including the Beijing Capital International Airport, Tianjin Binhai International Airport and Shijiazhuang International Airport, will permit travellers from 53 countries, including Canada, to enjoy visa-free transit treatment for a period of 144 hours when they have a valid connecting flight ticket for a third country or region. Previously, the government offered a 72 visa-free period to travellers transiting through Beijing.

Following the announcement, Air China stated that it will launch special tourism products in partnership with Beijing-based travel businesses, geared toward showcasing the region to travellers taking advantage of the extended visa-free period.

U.S. Government changes rules for electronic device searches

New rules introduced January 1st will require U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents to have “reasonable suspicion” of criminal behaviour in order to carry out advanced searches of electronic devices held by individuals entering or exiting the country.

While agents will be able to continue to examine data stored on a device, they will need to demonstrate a reasonable suspicion of criminal intent or a ‘national security concern’ to further analyze that data, such as connecting a smartphone to an external device to inspect or copy its contents.

John Wagner, deputy executive assistant commissioner, Office of Field Operations for U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement, “in this digital age, border searches of electronic devices are essential to enforcing the law at the U.S. border and to protecting the American people. CBP is committed to preserving the civil rights and civil liberties of those we encounter, including the small number of travellers whose devices are searched, which is why the updated directive includes provisions above and beyond prevailing constitutional and legal requirements.”

According to the agency, 30,200 border searches, both inbound and outbound, of electronic devices were conducted in 2017, approximately 0.007 per cent of the more than 397 million arriving international travelers processed by CBP officers. By comparison, in 2016, 0.005 per cent – more than 18,400 – of the more than 390 million arriving international travellers had their electronic devices searched.

BA phasing out reclining economy seats on some short-haul flights in 2018

British Airways passengers will no longer be able to lean back and relax on short-haul flights as the airline seeks to slash ticket prices. The airline will fit non-reclining seats on 35 planes set to fly the new economy class product later this year.

The change could prove damaging to BA’s elite status, as it emulates competing budget airlines. Passengers have already complained BA is closely emulating budget competitors since the appointment of chief executive Alex Cruz in 2015, who formerly ran Spain’s low-cost Vueling carrier. BA will fit the seats on its new fleet of 35 Airbus A320neos and A321neos, which will come into service later this year.

Patience no virtue for this passenger

A Ryanair passenger was recently arrested after opening a plane’s emergency exit and climbing out onto the wing. The flight from London to Malaga, Spain had landed but passengers had been waiting to disembark for around 30 minutes. That was too much for one man, who decided to make an escape. The problem – where to go from there? Footage of the incident, which has been shared thousands of times online, appears to show the 57-year-old man preparing to jump off the plane’s wing with a bag in his hand.

He was eventually talked out of jumping by ground staff and climbed back inside the plane, Malaga Hoy reported. The incident led to a further 40-minute delay for all those onboard. Fernando del Valle Villalobos, who captured the incident on camera, wrote on Facebook: “After leaving London an hour late to arrive in Malaga and be left in the plane for another 30 minutes (without any explanation from Ryanair)… this man decided not to wait any longer.  He activated the emergency exit saying, ‘I’m going via the wing’. Surreal!”

The man was held by airport security before being arrested by local police. He now faces action from Spanish authorities.

Park N’ Fly corporate discount code

Forbes Travel customers can now access exclusive, lower than web rates, using our unique corporate discount code, 301190. All you need to do is quote this number at the counter to receive the discount, whether for business or leisure travel. Before tax, these rates are $15.95/daily; $60.95/weekly; $98.99/monthly.

In addition, those parking at the airport frequently can register for the Park N’ Fly Rewards Program, enabling expedited service and same discount as above, automatically. Be sure to add the corporate discount code 301190 to your profile.

Benefits of the Rewards Program include:

  • ability to bypass the counter using the kiosk machines
    receive corporate discount rates every time you park, just swipe and save
    150 Aeroplan points for each stay
    Earn loyalty points towards free parking
    receive a text message when you arrive back at YVR, no need to call

Join the Rewards Program with Park N’ Fly Canada here:

Travel Tip

Anonymous advice for when things go sideways

An airline executive who wishes to remain anonymous provided these helpful (and sometimes cheeky) advice tips recently:

  1. When dealing with people let’s all agree to live by the “Golden Rule” – treat others like you want to be treated.
  2. Airlines will do everything they can to assist you when you are travelling and are caught in weather systems.
  3. Airlines do not control weather — we will give it a shot but it’s unlikely we will succeed.
  4. Airlines have no interest in delaying you.
  5. Yes, we know who you are and yes, we know you are more important than the other 7.5 billion people on earth. That doesn’t change the weather.
  6. Please put away the cell phones as you taunt and harass our employees with demands that you know are not reasonable in any kind of business.
  7. You are responsible for knowing what travel documents you need — how would an airline possibly know your final destination, where you born, what connecting flights, train or bus you’re going to take?
  8. We are not babysitters — take responsibility for your child when travelling. Make sure you identify them as a youth if they are travelling domestically — the airline has no idea that your child who looks 19 is actually 15. Make sure your child has a credit card and a cellphone and they know how to use them.
  9. Maybe plan your trip connecting to a cruise or your exchanging of vows so that you arrive more than an hour before the event. Stuff happens. Plan for it and think about ‘what ifs’ that cannot be controlled by you or even an airline employee.
  10. For the record, snow and ice are not a good mix for airplanes — so yes, we do need to de-ice and we do need to clear runways.

Vacation Suggestions

Regent Seven Seas Cruises accepting Canadian Dollars at Par

Available on 25 select 2018 cruises, Regent is accepting Canadian Dollars at par now through March 31st.  Canadian residents are invited to enjoy special savings on select voyages offering Canadian Dollars at Par pricing to the Mediterranean, Alaska, South Pacific, Tropics and more! Pricing includes Business Class air travel on intercontinental flights and free valet laundry service on 2018 Mediterranean voyages.

Our highlighted sailing is June 1st, Rome to Venice on the Seven Seas Voyager – 10 nights from only $9,699 CAD per person – including business class air from Vancouver.   This is also a Spotlight on Wine cruise with programming by Banfi Vintners.

With only 700 passengers, a staff to guest ratio of 1 to 1.58, and suites measuring 356 square feet, sailing on the Seven Seas Voyager is true luxury. Also included in the pricing are unlimited shore excursions, unlimited beverages, specialty restaurants, unlimited wifi, ground transportation between airport and ship, gratuities and government taxes and fees.

Contact Lisa Bain, Lisa Knotts, Manya, Sally or Gisela to book your own luxury experience today!

Fam Trip

Vietnam with Vanora

In view of the fact that a destructive typhoon paid a visit to Vietnam before I did, I would like to start by thanking the weather gods for the relief. Apparently heavy rains continued to soak parts of the region, but my experience was to be, both literally and figuratively, a sunny one.

Considering Vietnam was on my radar for many years, it was interesting just how little I knew what to expect. Anyway, I love Asia – and Vietnam did not let me down.

Click Here to read more about Vanora’s trip to Vietnam