The Hidden Secrets of Your Airline Ticket – Part 1

Discover the little known secrets of reading and understanding your boarding pass!

For many travelers the most stressful part of their trip is the airline portion between their home and destination or their destination back home.

For any person, having to work your way through an airport, all while having a clock ticking down on you, can be stressful.

At Travel N Relax we take our name seriously and truly want you to be able to relax while travelling.

To that end, we believe that by arming our guests with knowledge that most travelers do not possess, you will be able to enjoy a more relaxed vacation as you become capable of addressing any immediate issues that you may encounter en-route.

One key element that we have discovered that most travelers do not understand is how to read their own airline boarding pass.

Once most travelers make it through the security checkpoint, the first thing they do is look at their boarding pass again to double check their gate number and boarding time. At some point prior to boarding you will most likely also recheck your pass for your boarding zone and seat number.

These pieces of information are generally easily understood by most travelers.

However, aside from these key elements, there are several other numbers and letters scattered across the boarding pass that most people have no understanding of. This random gobbledygook is often ignored as it is seen by many as just a selection of secret unreadable codes that have no relevance to the traveler.

Yet far from being secret, nor random, each of these codes plays a key role in getting you to your destination and should be known by the traveler. Armed with this knowledge, you will be able to make sure that your ticket has been correctly booked and to also wisely address any airline booking issues that the airline might confront you with during your travels.

In this series we will break down your boarding pass to make you an educated traveler who is not only able to decipher the codes to make sure your booking is correct, but also to make you an airline ninja capable of addressing any airline booking issues that may arise.

Armed with your education which Travel N Relax will provide, you may even discover that you become a hero to a fellow traveler whom you rescue who does not possess this insider information!

We encourage you to return weekly to this space to learn this information that will truly allow you to Travel N Relax!

The Hidden Secrets of Your Airline Boarding Pass – Part 2

As we discussed last week, understanding the codes and numbers shown on your airline boarding pass is a key step in enjoying a smoother more hassle free journey.

Due to the volume of information on a boarding pass, we will break the information up between the “Left” side of the pass and the “Right” side of the pass. This week we will start with the information on the “Left.”

Starting at the top left is generally where your name will appear. In this same area the various status qualifications you may have will also be displayed. These may include such things as your airline loyalty level status (if any) and any TSA status programs you may be enrolled in such as TSA Pre Check or Global Entry.

If a flight is codeshared – meaning you bought the ticket with one airline but the flight is operated by another partner airline, a line reading – Operated by….Airlines – will display in this general area as well. This will show you the actual airline flying the route.

Continuing down the left side of the ticket will be two uppercase letters followed by the flight number. The uppercase letters are issued by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the trade association for international airlines, and indicate the airline.

The flight number is determined by the airline, using a complex algorithm that takes into account past and current airline flight numbers, as well as things like other airlines with similar sounding numbers scheduled to fly through the same airspace at the same time. This helps avoid potential confusion with pilots and air traffic control.

The flight numbers also reveal other information that will tell you more about your route. As an example lower numbers will generally show you how prestigious the route is. The longer more prestigious routes will generally have lower numbers.

Other things to be aware of with your flight number are:

  • An even number generally indicates you are flying East or North
  • An odd number generally indicates you are flying West or South
  • Generally a 4 digit flight number starting with a 3 or higher indicates you will be on a codeshare flight
  • A flight number may have hidden significance. As an example American 1776 flying between Philadelphia to Boston pays tribute to the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which happened in Philadelphia in 1776
  • Superstition often influences numbers. As examples, many airlines have incorporated the number 8 into their Asian routes because that number is considered lucky in many Asian cultures. Likewise “unlucky” numbers like 13, 666 or 911 are not used.
  • Flight numbers that are associated with flights that have been in a crash or tragedy of some sort are traditionally retired and the new flight flying that route will be renumbered.

Below this information may be a code…. STPC…. which means you have a stopover of generally longer than a few hours and the airline will pay for necessary needs caused by this stop such as perhaps a hotel stay. A second type of stopover is normally displayed on the right side of the boarding pass which we will discuss next week.

This information will be followed by your showing your flight cities that you are flying to / from and your date of flight.

Open Jaw ticket information – which is where you depart from one city but return to a different city, will normally display under your flight information. Open Jaw itineraries are usually utilized on extended trips.

Finally on the left side will generally be your confirmation number and ticket number. While both of these generally convey the same information to the airline the Confirmation number should be given to the airline representative to most quickly locate your airline record. Your ticket number, sometimes also called the e-ticket number, can also be presented to attain your record information.

Next week we will continue our breakdown of the pass by looking at the information that generally appears on the right side of the boarding pass. We invite you to come back then to discover those hidden secrets on your journey to becoming an airline ninja!

The Hidden Secrets of Your Airline Boarding Pass – Part 3

Last week we explored the information that displays on the “Left” side of ones boarding pass. This week we will conclude our study of the boarding pass by looking at the information which displays on the “Right” side of the boarding pass.

The most prominent piece of information on this side is usually your Bar Code, or as it is officially called your BCBP – Bar Coded Boarding Pass.

The code is 2D and must meet the standards of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), an airline trade group that sets criteria for consistency across the airlines and countries. Contained in this code is all of your passenger and flight information, which is why it is critical that you never just throw the unused boarding pass out after your flight. The barcode is used by the airline to speed up the boarding process, and allow the gate agents and the crew on the plane to easily tell how many people have boarded, what seats are taken, and how many bags have been checked.

Also on this “Right” side will be an odd six-digit alphanumeric code which is your PNR, or Passenger Name Reference. The PNR, like the confirmation and ticket number on the “Left” side, is yet another record locator that can be used to retrieve your information. Like the barcode, as everything about you can be discovered by a thief who knows how to access into this number, this is another reason that your boarding pass should never just be thrown out.

Also on this side will be stand alone floating letter. A lonely looking “K” or some other letter as an example. This letter may appear next to your seat assignment, flight number, or even just adjacent to the date and time of your flight.

This letter, while looking insignificant, is actually the most important part of your ticket (aside from your seat assignment) as it display’s your airline class of service status for the flight aka, your likelihood of getting an upgrade based on your loyalty status and what seat you booked.

As a general rule class of service normally falls into four categories with the following code plan:

  • F and A: first class
  • J, R, D and I: business class
  • W and P: Premium Economy
  • Y, B, H, K, L, G, V, S, N, Q, E and O: Economy

This side of the boarding pass may also display the word …”Longhaul”… or “Intl.” Both of these as the name implies, indicate longer flights that may be overseas flights lasting six to 12 hours.

The final piece of information that might be found on this half of the boarding pass is the code…. S/O…. which is another form of stopover. Unlike the stopover code we looked at in last weeks blog post this stopover may be between 4 to 24 hours and everything during this time would be at your own expense.

As you have discovered in this series of blog posts, there is much more to a boarding pass than just your flight information and seat number. Armed with the information we have provided, your travel experiences can be elevated as you will can now utilize your new educated consumer status.

For other travel tips and tricks we hope you might consider letting Travel N Relax help you with your next trip planning where we take care of all the details so you can truly Travel N Relax. Give us a call and let us help you elevate your trip planning to next level!

5 Airline Ticket Secrets You Need to Know

We have all heard the story of the confident traveler who ends up booking themselves to the wrong city and only discovers this when it is too late.

Recently we did an airline rescue of a passenger who in their elation to go to Sydney Australia had self booked themselves to Sydney Nova Scotia in Canada instead.

They were disappointed in the lowest $1,400 roundtrip fare we could offer them at that time and came to us in real triumph when they found a “much cheaper $850 flight” instead.

We were a bit baffled on why they were uncomfortable in letting us check to see what they had found so that we could assure they had gotten the best fare. As that $850 price had seemed low to us we had wanted to make sure nothing was amiss. However, only when the plane continued on a prolonged trip headed northeast instead of southwest did they realize that perhaps something was indeed wrong and came back to us for help.

Secret # 1 Double Check.

Always double check that you have the correct destination country before hitting the complete booking button of your online purchase.

With airline ticket prices known to fluctuate wildly from minute to minute knowing when to book is critical.

Secret # 2 Timing.

Just as you can wait too long to book air tickets so too can you book too early.

Many think if they book their air far in advance this will save them money. As such we have heard of some who book their air a year out. However, because flight inventories are rarely released that far ahead, you’re likely to pay a premium cost for higher fare classes. Instead the sweet spot to purchase your tickets tends to be in the three to six month in advance time frame.

In search of that ever elusive “cheapest fare” many also just pull up the inventory see the “cheapest” price and immediately hit… Book Now! Like the first two mistakes this also can be an expensive error.

Secret # 3 Read the fine print.

When you see a super cheap fare or a “great deal,” listen to your gut and realize there must be a reason for that.

Most online sites will bring you a great fare by flying you into a large city and then connecting to another flight with either an extended multi hour layover. Or worse have you fly into one airport only to connect to an outbound flight from another airport (in the same city) that is an hour or more away! By not looking at the fine print, you may have a very large additional cost which wipes out any savings and perhaps costs you above and beyond what you may have paid otherwise.

Secret # 4 Seasonality.

Air ticket prices will vary widely depending on the time of year you are flying to a destination. Peak times will always be much higher than off season times. Therefore, consider traveling if you can when the weather will still be enjoyable but you are far enough away from peak season to get a lower price.

Likewise related to this is to always avoid holiday seasons when pricing will always be higher. A good rule of thumb to remember is if kids are out of school than family travel will usually be at its peak and thus travel prices are also likely to be high. It is best to avoid travel at these times if you can.

Secret # 5 Open Jaw Tickets.

An open jaw tickets is when you fly into one city and fly home from a different city. Sometimes this can offer you great pricing as it can allow you to avoid high taxes.

Particularly when you are flying on the same airline, and will be visiting multiple destinations this secret can work. However, if this leads you to fly one airline in one direction and a second airline home this practice may not work as well. Whether this will find you a great price break will vary but it may be worth a look to see what the comparison is.

A bonus secret is to always book your seats in advance when you can…even if it means paying extra to do so.

Why?

Because, airlines often over-book expecting no-shows to occur. If more people show for the flight than the airline had expected in their no show models, then those without assigned seats become the losers. Therefore, it is always best to assure yourself an assigned seat.

For more secrets on how to truly Travel N Relax give us a call to let us help you with your travel bookings. At Travel N Relax our mission is to truly make your travel smooth and hassle free. Let us take care of all the details so you can truly Travel N Relax!

The Marriott Bonvoy Bracelet – What Is It and Is It Worth Having

Recently a business trip to Washington D.C. took us to the Gaylord National Resort – a Marriott brand hotel. While the resort in itself was exceptional, and probably worth a future blog of it’s own, what really stood out to me was the new Marriott Bonvoy Bracelet.

If you are not aware of, or have not heard of this bracelet, not to fear. Marriott’s own Vice President of Global Sales (who spoke to us at the convention) confessed that she had been unaware of this bracelet as well until she checked into the resort!

As it turns out the Gaylord National is the test site for this new bracelet and elite Marriott guests were picked to be the sample group to test out this new technology. Upon check in, I discovered that my wife and I had been selected to test out the bracelet.

So what is this bracelet and was it worth having?

I have to admit that at check in I was more than a bit skeptical.

You see I am old school person and remember back to the day when you simply had an old fashioned room key to access your room. If you took the key with you, you would simply drop it in any mailbox and the hard plastic hotel attachment (listing the hotel, its address and your room number) would guarantee the keys delivery back to the hotel at no cost to you.

Therefore, as you can see, moving to the standard key card of today was quite the technological and security advancement!

So enter now the all new Marriott Bonvoy Bracelet!

Now before you close your mind and develop preconceived and inaccurate ideas as to what this bracelet might be, let me assure you that this bracelet is not the same as the cheap plastic bracelets you might be familiar with from all-inclusive resorts.

Rather this bracelet is a high tech wonder that you can easily slip on and off whenever you wish and provides you with a wealth of hotel benefits.

Instead of pulling out your card key in the elevator to put up against the security pad to access your room floor, with this little wonder you just step into the elevator, wave your arm, and poof… your set to go!

Upon arrival outside your room again, put away the old fashioned key card, and just wave your arm and poof the door is unlocked for you!

Want a drink at the bar, food at the cafe or another hotel amenity?

With a wave of your arm as long as you have this wristband on any wish is yours to command! Truly with this little band on I felt like I had a magic genie by my side at all times as the resort opened up to me in ways I have never experienced in a hotel before!

Be assured though this band is highly secure as your room number is not listed on it, nor can it locate your room for you. The flexible band material makes it easy to put on and take off whenever you wish. Yet at the same time, it is tight enough so it cannot just easily slide off your arm with you unaware.

So is this wristband worth having?

After five days of testing this I would have to state a resounding …Yes!

The benefits it provided, along with doing away with the awkwardness of having to fumble to get a key card every time you need it, made this band a highly valuable amenity.

Indeed, upon checkout my skepticism had completely disappeared and this little band had truly become a…Must Have… travel item!

Hopefully the test run of this product at the Gaylord will continue to go well and the rest of the Marriott properties will roll out this new band as a standard amenity. If the functionality we tested remain, you will truly love this item and always look back at the current key card as the truly antiquated item that it now is.

We give two thumbs up for the Marriott Bonvoy Bracelet!

Is Traveling to the Dominican Republic Safe?

For weeks now, all of us have been reading the nightmare headlines of tourists dying in the Dominican Republic (DR). Reading these reports, it would seem that all one has to do is step off your plane and …poof…. some sort of death curse will be placed on you and you will quickly become ill and die. Clearly from the headlines alone, it would appear wise to avoid traveling to the Dominican Republic.

Yet are the newsmaking headlines telling the full story?

The other day we read a different perspective on this story that we wanted to share to provide a full 360 view of the situation going on. Please note that the opinions below are the author’s, as published by the content provider, and do not necessarily represent the views of Travel N Relax or our employees.

In the article in SLATE – which you can read the full content of here – https://bit.ly/2G2I18b – the author makes the argument that statistically speaking the number of incidents that have occurred are but a speck and not even noteworthy from a true news perspective.

Indeed, the author notes, when you consider the news stories are lumping incidents from 2016, 2017 and 2018 to broaden the story and on average 12 American visitors to the DR die every year in road accidents, the story becomes much less dramatic.

Based on studies which the author illustrates in the article (link above) he notes that if 2.7 million Americans now visit the DR every year we should expect that roughly 400 American tourists will die while visiting the country in any given year. To be more specific, about 295 American tourists will die of natural causes during their trips, with 207 of those deaths being the result of a cardiovascular event.

The author states when you compare these numbers to the recent deaths we’ve heard so much about that only consists of 12 reported cases in 2019 (or maybe 17 in the past three years, depending how you count). Most of these have been attributed to heart attacks. Taken all together, these represent at most 3 percent of the total number of American tourists that would be expected to die while visiting the Dominican Republic in any given year and at most 6 percent of the total number of American tourists that would be expected to die from circulatory problems in particular.

Further the author debates State Department records indicate that since 2003, an average of 20 U.S. citizens have died from non-natural causes every year in the DR. Given this, he argues, if there is truly news in this story it’s because the numbers are so few!

Again, Travel N Relax is not in any way making light of this story. We, like you are following the headlines very closely and intrigued by what the various autoposys and studies being done will show.

That said, we also fully believe in providing a full 360 view of any story so that a truly educated decision can always be made. Whether you feel that the DR is safe, or not, is not our place to try to influence you either way. Nor is that the intent of this blog.

However you feel, Travel N Relax is ready to provide you with an exceptional and safe vacation whether to the DR, or to a destination thousands of miles away! Give us a call and let us take care of all the details while you truly Travel N Relax!

Wise Habits for Families Who Fly

Traveling as a family can be fantastic, it may also become exceedingly stressful, particularly in regards to flying. It does not need to be. When planning your excursions if you make time to note these points to reduce anxiety, and educate your children with this travel behaviour that is smart, your trips can become more pleasurable and stress free.

Be Mindful of H.A.L.T, an acronym for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired

More or less, every single collapse we witness at the air terminal and on airplanes includes a direct connection to these components. Watch for the HALT components before traveling and tackle them if desired.

When traveling, time administration is essential

Some take pride in just making their flights, which leads to more stress. Discover the worth of providing yourself lots of time for arriving at and navigating around the terminal before your takeoff. Frequently you will find unexpected delays (parking, long lines, etc) but when adequate time is permitted the entire experience could be peaceful and even enjoyable!

Packing wisely saves confusion and time in airports and on airplanes

Invite kids to have designated places in their backpacks for their reading, electronic equipment or artwork materials, their beloved toys along with their preferred snack.Things should be organized for simple access at the same pockets of their backpacks.

Be kind to everybody you encounter

I’ve got a friend that is pleasant to just about everybody he experiences from the airline representatives who check his bag and gate check him into the flight and flight crew and staff. The favorable power he creates generates a pleasant experience for everybody. Bear in mind that a simple grin and recognition of those folks that you encounter during your excursion may go a very long way to enhancing your trip experience.

It Is never too early to understand how to maneuver through an airport

As opposed to simply guiding the way through the airport, explain to your children what you are doing, and why, each step along the way. Or consider getting your oldest child to direct you (giving him/her advice when needed naturally). Too often parents take control, managing all facets of finding the way and getting through safely to the gate. While it may be expedient, it will not help the child learn the airport environment or how to maneuver it.

For other tips on how to improve your travel experiences Travel N Relax is ready to assist you! Contact us with your travel needs and allow us to take care of all the details so you can truly…Travel N Relax!

Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Properly Using a Plane’s Facilities

Air travel is often a means of transportation that can cause stress and discomfort. Let’s face it, sitting in a cramped seat at 30,000 feet for prolonged periods with limited options to stretch may get you to your destination in a speedy manner but the trip itself may be challenging.

No worse challenge exists then needing to use the lavatory at 30,000 feet up. As if the pleasure of going to a tight, compact room without windows is not a joyful enough thought, figuring out when to go can make it even more complicated.

In accordance with airline research, your best chance to use the restroom is before the beverage cart is rolled out and following the captain’s switching off the safety-belt signal.

The reason for this timeframe is straightforward. Odds are slim that passengers will need to utilize the airplane’s toilet since the flight has just lifted off. This grants you some solitude, without the stress of an individual standing externally also needing to use the potty. Ensure that you don’t linger inside beyond 20 minutes or a crew member may tap the door to ensure your welfare.

Need to take a poop? If you’re concerned over the odor, you need to be. With confined spaces, bad vents, and ineffective plumbing, the smell can leak out into the airplane fast.

To conquer this, simply take some coffee with you. The odor of the coffee is so powerful that it pushes all other odors, even icky toilet ones, away.

Finally, if you are in a center or window seat, the best plan is to discuss with the aisle seat passenger prior to takeoff if they are open to being awakened should you need to go enroute.

If they do mind, don’t hesitate to slip by trying not to disturb them. As you pass, continuously look forward and keep body touch minimal.

For other tips on how to improve your travel experiences Travel N Relax is ready to assist you! Contact us with your travel needs and allow us to take care of all the details so you can truly…Travel N Relax!

Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

What is a Luxury Travel Agency

As a luxury travel agency, we are often asked what distinguishes a luxury travel agent from a regular travel agent. In short, what is luxury travel and what makes a luxury travel agency unique?

While it true that this market certainly expects a higher level of service, expectation and yes price point, luxury travel goes well beyond that.

As a qualified luxury travel agent, one must understand that the wealthy no longer focus on material things as they used to. Now, they have come to value experiences over goods and authenticity over opulence. Today’s luxury traveler is a collector of memories and adventures.

To allow the guest to collect these adventures and experiences requires a luxury travel agency to understand that there are a few common factors that most upscale clients are looking for.

Luxury Travelers are often seeking:

  1. A desire for access, service and advocacy so that they may gain access to the best experiences.
  2. A desire for a deeper level of personalization and one of a kind experiences.
  3. A desire for experience-based travel and to achieve deeper connection by truly immersing themselves in the destination.
  4. To experience cultural connections and truly experience local life.

With these points in mind a luxury travel agent will then go to work to tailor make travel that is specific to what the client wants to accomplish.

As these clients can afford the best options, a luxury travel agency such as Travel N Relax wants to make sure that’s what we are presenting to them. The best options that will genuinely please them.

Truly as a luxury travel agency it becomes our goal to cater to the client and take care of their every detail so that they can truly Travel N Relax!

Popular Trends in Luxury Travel

When looking at upscale travel, it is important for a luxury travel agency to do constant analysis on the trends occurring in the luxury travel market. Such analysis allows a luxury travel agent to better service these luxury travel clients. This also allows the luxury travel agent to offer an experience that will truly exceed the client’s expectations.

In addition to the experiential travel these clients seek, there are some unique areas that are currently growing in popularity among wealthy travelers. Among these, wellness travel is one area which this market is willing to spend more time and financial resources on. When a luxury travel agent meets their client’s needs in the area of wellness travel, the client will have one of their luxury needs met in a special way.

The astute luxury travel agent will recognize that wellness travel varies tremendously and has many definitions. Among these are various forms of dietary and nutritional adventures; active trips; religious connections or indulgent spa vacations.

Adventure travel is another area that luxury travel agencies may wish to tap into. In this niche, a luxury travel agent can help inspirational clients experience active trips filled with daredevil activities and unique un-explored destinations.

The luxury travel agent realizes that today’s upscale traveler often does not just want a private guided tour. Instead, they desire that the luxury travel agency arrange for them exciting experiences whether that be on foot, on bicycles, in ocean kayaks or in a private plane. Adventure for upscale clients can range from glamping to excursions to far off lands, with the expectation that the luxury travel agent will be able to provide it.

One way that a luxury travel agency can help these guests experience this type of luxury travel is on an expedition cruise. On these types of ships, travelers can be more active and get to areas bigger ships can’t due to their size. Whether seeing unique bird-life in the Galapagos, bears in Alaska or whales in the Gulf of California, an expedition cruise can offer up close off the boat experiences by kayak, hiking or by other active methods. The booking of an expedition cruise saves the valuable time of the luxury travel agent and client for looking for expeditions.

Other niche areas of luxury travel are popular as well in this market, and in all cases a luxury travel agent must keep in mind the growing desire by these guests of becoming more sustainable and eco-friendly in their travels. When a luxury travel agent listens and exceeds the needs of their clients, it creates a special trip of luxury for their client as well as priceless memories.

A luxury travel agency such as Travel N Relax must always be watching the changing trends and recognizing how to best meet the needs of these clients. In this way the luxury travel agent can truly provide an out of this world travel experience that really “Wows” the client. When a client is wowed, that leads to a satisfied client. We invite you to let us take care of all the travel details so that you can truly Travel N Relax! Give us a call today!

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