Senator Urges Travel Companies to Help Families Losing February Break

Story by Tara Conry.

Do you pull your child out of school or cancel the family vacation you had planned?

That’s the question some parents are now facing as many school districts across the region, including Long Beach, have opted to take back some or all of the scheduled vacation days in February to make up for the instructional time lost due to Hurricane Sandy and the Nor’easter.

To give a break to those families who do opt to send their kids to school, Sen. Chuck Schumer sent letters to airlines and cruise line companies Wednesday, urging them to set-up programs to reimburse or waive penalty charges for those families who have to cancel their trips because of their school calendar changed.

Schumer told The Daily News:

“We literally got more than 100 calls from people who have been planning these vacations for a long time, and now because of Sandy, they have to work or send their kids to school … It’s like adding insult to injury. These are not wealthy people. They generally have nonrefundable reservations.”
According to The News, Delta Airlines quickly responded to Schumer’s request, and is letting customers with tickets purchased prior to Nov. 19 and departing from La Guardia, JFK, Newark, White Plains or Newburgh between Feb. 15 and Feb. 24 to reschedule without a change fee. They also can choose to get a Delta credit for the purchase amount, spokeswoman Leslie Scott explained, telling The News that “it’s the right thing to do.”

JetBlue also announced this week that it would waive its change fee or offer travel credits for customers who purchased tickets to travel to or from New York Metropolitan Airports (JFK, LaGuardia, Newark, Newburgh, White Plains) between Feb. 14 and Feb. 25, 2013. These customers can voluntarily rebook their flights (They will be responsible for the difference in airfare, if any) without incurring a change fee or they can cancel their trip and receive a travel bank credit by calling 800-JETBLUE (800-538-2583) by Dec. 31, 2012.  Original travel must have been booked on or before Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012.

Other airlines, including American, reportedly were still reviewing Schumer’s request. Did you have a vacation planned for the February break? What will you do now? Tell us in the comments section below.

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Travel Channel to Feature Sturgis Buffalo Chip

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Sturgis Buffalo Chip News

The Sturgis Buffalo Chip, legendary mega camping resort and world class entertainment complex, will be featured in 3 new hour long specials premiering on the Travel Channel over the next three weeks beginning this Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012, at 9 p.m. EST.

During the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally the Buffalo Chip hosts the majority of the rally’s estimated 400,000 plus visitors with its nine day-and-night music festival, high-end camping amenities, interactive activities and exhibits, and breathtaking location.

Catch three hours of action from the 2012 Buffalo Chip experience beginning Sunday, December 2, 2012 on the Travel Channel. Visit for more information, to learn about the growing 2013 music festival line up and to make your reservations at The Legendary Sturgis Buffalo Chip.

The Sturgis Buffalo Chip has for 31 years been the cornerstone destination for visitors from around the world as they flock to the Black Hills of South Dakota for the famed Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

The Buffalo Chip, with it’s 580 acre camping resort and world class concert series known as The Largest Music Festival in Motorcycling, annually attracts such legendary artists as Journey, The Zac Brown Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Shinedown, Boston, Sugarland, Kid Rock, Aerosmith, Bob Dylan and Toby Keith.

The Buffalo Chip, a longtime favorite of production companies looking to capture the authentic Sturgis experience, will once again be the centerpiece for 3 new one-hour TV specials airing on the Travel Channel.

These 3 new programs, “Sturgis Overdrive” airing Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012, at 9 p.m. EST, “Sturgis Metal Mania” airing Sunday, Dec. 9 at 9 p.m. and “Sturgis Biker Madness” airing Sunday, Dec. 16 at 9 p.m., will each take a unique look inside the world’s largest motorcycle rally and feature all that Sturgis has to offer to those who come to visit, ride and enjoy the lifestyle of this truly unique American event.

Rod Woodruff (Buffalo Chip Owner) says: “We are thrilled that the Travel Channel has once again chosen the Buffalo Chip as a key element of its new Sturgis Rally programs. The Chip has been featured in numerous international television series and specials over the years, but we expect these three shows from the Travel Channel will give a new perspective of the culture of the rally. They will also highlight the entertainment, activities and overall excitement that only takes place at the Buffalo Chip.”

This year’s event was the biggest year ever at the Buffalo Chip, with more campers and concert goers having enjoyed the Chip’s one-of-kind atmosphere and entertainment than ever before.

The 2013 event looks like it will be another record-breaking year for the Sturgis Buffalo Chip’s nine day and night music festival, with confirmations already announced from multi-platinum country star Toby Keith and the iconic rock band ZZ Top. More band announcements are expected soon. Visit BuffaloChip.Com or for all the latest Buffalo Chip news and information.

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You like using travel websites — and their prices, survey says

This will come as no surprise to those who book travel online: Consumers like using independent travel websites to make travel plans because of the good prices they receive.

The 2012 Independent Travel Website Satisfaction Report by J.D. Power and Associates released Friday found that overall satisfaction with travel websites is high and indelibly linked to prices. Their favorite site?, according to the survey.

On average, consumers visit travel websites about 20 times and make four purchases a year. Online consumers most often book airfares (61%), then hotels (57%), rental cars (28%) and vacation packages (16%). Those who buy vacation packages were among the most satisfied and the most active in terms of the time they spend on their travel website, the survey showed.

There’s an interesting age divide too when it comes to why people choose the websites they do. The 18-to-24-year-old crowd weighs recommendations on brands in selecting a travel website, whereas those 45 to 54 years old go strictly by price.

The survey also ranked customer satisfaction with specific travel websites. After, Hotwire, Priceline and Orbitz received top scores, and Yahoo! Travel came in last.

J.D. Powers gauges consumer satisfaction with a variety of travel services. In July, the company polled customer satisfaction with car rental experiences (you’re happy!) and hotel experiences (you’re grumpy!).
Follow us on Twitter @latimestravel, like us on Facebook @Los Angeles Times Travel.

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Travel Deal Destinations For 2013 (PHOTOS)

Travelzoo Deal Experts live, eat and breathe travel. We consistently churn out the world’s best travel deals while tracking the latest travel trends. So who better to tell you where the best deals will be in 2013?

While other end-of-year travel lists highlight far-flung corners of the world that only the insanely intrepid or ridiculously wealthy could visit, Travelzoo puts the world within reach with its Wow Deal Destinations for 2013. These are places where Travelzoo Deal Experts predict tremendous value in the coming year based on recent travel trends.

With destinations around the globe vying for your tourist dollars, narrowing down the list to five came after lengthy discussion and debate. The result: a heavily vetted and value-packed assortment of potential vacation spots.

Which destination will you visit next year?

  • Alaska: Bag a bargain for this Bucket List travel experience: an Alaskan cruise. Cruise lines such as Princess and Celebrity have announced that they are adding more ships and itineraries to Alaska in 2013. More ships and sailings mean more cabins to fill … and cruise lines hate to see a cabin go unoccupied. We predict the strongest Alaska cruise deals to emerge for spring and late-summer sailings.
  • Colombia: A sure sign that this South American country has emerged from the shadows of its infamous past: Major airlines and hotels are quickly staking their claim here. Airlines such as JetBlue, LAN, Spirit and American Airlines are all eyeing growth in Colombia, increasing direct service to cities such as Bogota and Cartagena. Also, popular chain hotels such as Marriott, Hilton and InterContinental are sprouting up across the country. This tourism boom is breeding competition and deals – in a country where the U.S. dollar already goes far. All of this is helping to change perceptions about a nation that boasts the tongue-in-cheek tourism tag line: “The only risk is wanting to stay.”
  • Ireland: With a weakened Irish economy, this country is banding together to woo foreign tourism dollars to its emerald-colored shorelines. Spearheaded by the Irish government, The Gathering 2013 is a yearlong event highlighting festivals, concerts, cultural celebrations and clan gatherings across the island. Airlines, tour companies, hotels and castle resorts are joining this “Come to Ireland” battle cry by unleashing special deals for 2013 travel. (They’ve been encouraged to do so by the government, after all.) Add to this a weakened euro — aka your dollar goes a wee bit further than it has in years past — and this is great incentive for the 45 million Americans who claim Irish ancestry to make their way “home” for a visit.
  • New Zealand: This country has director Peter Jackson to thank for reinvigorating its tourism industry. The “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, which was filmed in New Zealand, helped to catapult this country into the consideration set for travelers enchanted with the movie settings. With the launch of the “Hobbit” trilogy, its status as an outdoorsy travel destination will be elevated even more. Tour operators will seize this move-inspired buzz to craft compelling itineraries at competitive prices. And airlines such as Air New Zealand and Hawaiian Airlines have already announced expanding service to New Zealand — more seats to fill mean a better opportunity for flight deals.
  • Niagara Falls: Hotels here seem locked in a fierce battle of “Who can craft the most outrageously good deal?” Niagara Falls hotels have gravitated toward deal-endemic travel sites such as Travelzoo with vigor this year, saturating the market with perk-packed deals that essentially make the hotel room free! The constant deal one-upmanship of these hotels will continue producing a flood of deals for Falls-bound travelers.

– Jaime Freedman is based in New York and is the group publisher at Travelzoo. Travelzoo has 250 deal experts from around the world who rigorously research, evaluate and test thousands of deals to find those with true value.

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Former Penn State President Spanier seeks relaxation of travel restrictions




The Patriot-News

on November 29, 2012 at 7:20 PM, updated November 29, 2012 at 8:35 PM

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Former Penn State President Graham Spanier doesn’t want to let criminal charges get in the way of travel plans.

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Graham Spanier

Spanier, charged earlier this month with conspiring to block certain aspects of the sexual abuse allegations against former football coach Jerry Sandusky, has filed a motion in Dauphin County Court seeking a loosening of travel restrictions imposed during his Nov. 1 arraignment.

At the time, District Justice William Wenner ordered Spanier to surrender his passport and told him he would be restricted from traveling outside the state. He then gave the former president his release pending a preliminary hearing.

Spanier’s initial motion on the issue was not immediately available from Dauphin County courts and neither he or his attorneys could be reached for this

But as outlined in a response from Attorney General Linda Kelly’s office today, Spanier is apparently seeking some latitude to travel both out-of-state and internationally.

Prosecutors, in their response, said they do not oppose domestic travel by Spanier – who lost his presidency in the wake of Sandusky’s arrest – as long as he gives advance notice of where he is going, the length of stay and a purpose.

International travel should require specific permission from the court, prosecutors said, adding they oppose a blanket return of Spanier’s passport at this time.

No decision had been rendered on the issue as of Thursday evening.

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McDermott Trip Sets Travel Record

McDermott’s recent trip to Indonesia appears to be the most expensive privately financed trip since Congress amended its travel rules in 2007.

Rep. Jim McDermott and his senior legislative aide earlier this month traveled to Indonesia on what appears to be the most expensive privately financed trip based on per person costs since Congress amended its travel rules in 2007.

The development company Chemonics International, which contracts with the U.S. Agency for International Development, spent almost $45,000 to send the Washington Democrat and Jessica Lee to Bali and Jakarta to attend a democracy forum and meet with government officials. McDermott’s travel expenses totaled about $21,000 and Lee’s were almost $24,000.

According to records maintained by the website LegiStorm, a private entity has not spent that much per person since Congress amended its rules related to privately sponsored travel five years ago in an effort to curb the influence of lobbyists on lawmaking. Many types of costly trips that had previously drawn criticism were eliminated. Privately financed travel is distinct from official congressional delegations, or CODELs, which are paid for by the federal government.

Neither Chemonics nor USAID lobbies Congress.

For McDermott’s office, the purpose of the trip to Indonesia was twofold.

The 12-term lawmaker from Seattle co-chairs the Congressional Indonesia Caucus with Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind. The caucus has in the past hosted several briefings on Indonesia’s pro- democracy movement and its role in Southeast Asia. Because of McDermott’s caucus role and his position as ranking member on the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton invited him to attend the Bali Democracy Forum on Nov. 8 and 9.

The visit coincided with Indonesia implementing restrictions on imported fruit. Indonesia is the fifth-largest importer of Washington state apples, which generated $51 million in sales last year. New licensing and inspection standards could be economically devastating for Washington apple, cherry and pear interests, according to a McDermott spokesman.

“Congressman McDermott has heard from the businesses in the district and throughout Washington state about the trade disruption caused by the regulations that will affect all imported horticulture goods,” spokesman Kinsey Kiriakos wrote in an email.

“The Congressman has sent several letters to the Indonesian government about the new regulations, but has always felt that addressing issues of such importance is more effective when done in person,” he added.

Chemonics paid for McDermott and Lee to visit Indonesia because it administers a program there that supports public policy research and effective-governance efforts.

McDermott and Lee spent the first two days in Bali at the democracy forum before attending breakfast briefings, site visits and other meetings to discuss issues including female representation in politics and regional animal diseases. The final two days, in Jakarta, included meetings with Indonesia’s minister for the economy and other economic, agriculture and trade officials.

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Delta Air Lines earns Business Travel News awards for 2012

Delta Air Lines is No. 1.

No. 1 in this year’s Business Travel News Annual Airline Survey; a survey taken by corporate travel managers. The airline ranked first among all carriers in key categories including: Value of Relationships with Account Managers and Sales Representatives; Distribution Channels; Complaint/Problem Resolution; Quality of Customer Service; and Networks, Airline Partnerships and Frequencies.

Delta also earned the distinction of being the first carrier in the survey’s 15-year history to be rated No. 1 in all 10 categories.

“This award reflects how our most important corporate customers continue to embrace the $3 billion we are investing to improve our flying experience while highlighting the hard work and service commitment of our 80,000 employees,” said Ed Bastian, Delta’s president. “Recognition from our most frequent customers is the most important recognition we can receive. To finish first a second year in a row and in all 10 service delivery categories is a great acknowledgement of our efforts to build a better airline.”

Delta claims travel awards for 2012

“We offer our congratulations to Delta Air Lines for their strong showing across all the categories we measured in our latest Annual Airline Survey. Their efforts over the past several years are clearly resonating within the business travel community,” said Tim Reid, vp-Group publisher, The BTN Group.

Delta is investing more than $3 billion in airport facilities, global products, services and technology to enhance the customer experience in the air and on the ground, through 2013. Customer improvements include a $1.2 billion facility renovation at New York-JFK’s Terminal 4, a $160 million project to modernize LaGuardia’s Terminals C and D, as well as updating the Los Angeles airport jet bridges, baggage claim hall and ticket counter areas and other facility improvements in Salt Lake City and Seattle.

Delta is adding much-needed full flat-bed seats to all BusinessElite cabins and enhancing in-flight food, beverages, entertainment and amenities. In 2012 Delta expanded its popular Economy Comfort seating and completed Wi-Fi access to its fleet of more than 800 two-class aircraft. Beginning in 2013, customers will benefit from additional productivity and entertainment options when the airline adds streaming content to all two-class aircraft and satellite based Wi-Fi to its fleet of international widebody aircraft.

Delta has been proactive updating technology on and at kiosks to enhance the purchase experience and improve transaction times. The airline also is adding recharging stations at more than the 30 airports, supplying power to customers’ electronic devices.

Operationally, Delta’s on-time and completion factor rank among the industry’s best, while its results in mishandled baggage and customer complaints have decreased 24 percent and 37 percent, respectively, compared to 2011.

The annual Business Travel News survey is voted on by corporate travel managers who are key members of the business travel industry. Participating airlines surveyed include American, Southwest, United and US Airways.

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GlobalStar Travel Management Adds New Partners in Angola, Nigeria, Pakistan …

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As part of our continued global expansion into markets driven by new client acquisition, we are pleased to announce the recruitment of four new strategic Partners to the GlobalStar network.

Expresso Viagens represents GlobalStar in Angola. Expresso Viagens, established in 1966 is one of the leading TMC’s in Angola with a dedicated focus on Business Travel Management tailored to the specifics in the African market.

In Nigeria, GlobalStar has been successful in recruiting Touchdown Travels as our newest Partner. Touchdown Travels, established in 1993 will play a significant role in GlobalStar’s expansion in Africa together with Strategic partner Club Travel in South Africa.

Sonya Travels (Pvt) Ltd which is part of the Southern Travels (Pvt.) Limited Group is the new Partner in Pakistan. Established in 1993 and with over 300 staff and 23 offices throughout the country, the organization is considered the fastest growing TMC in Pakistan.

In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, GlobalStar has added the company Al Maha United Travel to its network. Al Maha United is a subsidiary of the ANTA group which is the GlobalStar Partner in the United Arab Emirates. Al Maha United operates in Jeddah and will soon open in Riyadh.

Commenting on behalf of GlobalStar, Mark van Iersel, Director Marketing and Partner Recruitment, says “We are delighted to have these four new partners on board. In addition, our further expansion in Africa is progressing well and our goal is to have all major African markets covered in the coming six months.”

These four new Partners will add considerable strength to our network ensuring a global solution delivered locally.

About GlobalStar Travel Management:

GlobalStar is a worldwide travel management company owned and managed by local entrepreneurs. Over 85 market leading enterprises, representing over US$13 billion in sales, combine their local expertise, strength and commitment to deliver cohesive, multinational travel management solutions through an innovative technology platform.

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Holiday Travel Stress Reduced With New Recommendation Site

holiday travel
Holiday travel takes us to familiar places for celebration with friends and family but often that trip goes through airports that we could use some help navigating. NerdWallet is a personal finance website with financial product recommendations and advice like “The Best Credit Cards for Holiday Shopping.” Founders Tim and Jake believe in creating resources that consumers can trust. Launched today, they have a new recommendation site that promises to help travelers better handle variables that add up to the stress associated with holiday travel.

Available online or via smartphone app, TravelNerd has recommendations for parking, transportation, amenities, navigating through airport terminals and more.

“TravelNerd was created in response to an overwhelming need for a guide that helps travelers navigate the hectic nature of airports. As frequent travelers ourselves, we understand that air travel is more than just the flight,” said Alicia Jao VP of Travel Media at NerdWallet in a statement.

Using the TravelNerd system, holiday travelers can weigh transportation options by time and cost, compare airport parking prices on and off site and get discount coupons, view terminal maps with details that include restrooms, restaurants and more.

“Getting to and from the airport and navigating the terminal can be time-consuming and expensive. With these challenges in mind, we created an easily-accessible resource to help consumers make informed travel decisions,” added Jao.

Unlike other online options, TravelNerd is unique in that they offer social features like taxi sharing, directions to the parking lot and click-to-call transportation options.

[Photo credit - Flickr user hnix]

Filed under: North America, United States, Airlines, Airports, Budget Travel, Internet Tools

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