United Changes Boarding Process

United Airlines has changed the boarding process to improve the customer’s experience. In the video below the spokesman explains that United tried and reviewed the new process in various airports around the world “until we got it just right.” In time we’ll see if they got it just right or not. I’m not sure that certain things (like the boarding process) can made just right, particularly when so many different people (i.e., personalities) are involved.

Here’s United’s 2min22sec video that explains the process.

Plastic Airport Security Trays Full of Viruses

The following article was provided by Incentive Connection Travel.

The highest levels of respiratory viruses at airports are on the plastic trays used at security checkpoints, a new study finds.

Researchers took samples from a variety of of surfaces at Helsinki-Vantaa airport in Finland and found evidence of respiratory viruses on 10 percent of the surfaces.

The highest virus levels were found on plastic trays used at the hand luggage X-ray checkpoint, but viruses were also detected on shop payment terminals, staircase rails, passport checking counters, children’s play areas and in the air.

No respiratory viruses were found on toilet surfaces, according to the study published in the journal BMC Infectious Diseases.

“This study supports the case for improved public awareness of how viral infections spread. People can help to minimize contagion by hygienic hand washing and coughing into a handkerchief, tissue or sleeve at all times, but especially in public places. These simple precautions can help prevent pandemics and are most important in crowded areas like airports that have a high volume of people travelling to and from many different parts of the world,” said study author Jonathan Van Tam, a professor of health protection at the University of Nottingham, in the U.K.

“The presence of microbes in the environment of an airport has not been investigated previously. The new findings support preparedness planning for controlling the spread of serious infectious diseases in airports. The results also provide new ideas for technical improvements in airport design and refurbishment,” study author Niina Ikonen, a virology expert at the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare, said in a Nottingham news release.

Discipleship Travel LLC comments:

We have found Purell Sanitizing Wipes (see box below) to be a helpful airport travel item. We use them to clean the seat area, including armrests, seat belt buckle, tray table, etc., before getting settled into our seats. With the recent study results, it might not be a bad idea to wipe the plastic trays in security.

 

Rosh HaShana 2018

The following video is from the Western Wall, sometimes identified as the Wailing Wall. The Western Wall is considered by many Jews to be the among the holiest places in the world because of it’s proximity to the last temple. The Western Wall itself was not part of the Temple, rather it is a retaining wall that supports the platform upon which the Temple stood.

It is tradition for Jews to gather at the Western Wall to celebrate Rosh HaShana, or the Jewish New Year.

Common International Travel Mistakes

When traveling internationally, the following are common, but easily avoidable mistakes.

1. Packing essentials in checked luggage. This means medicine, cash, laptop chargers (and laptops), valuable jewelry, anything you really can’t afford to lose or be without.

Locking your luggage isn’t a solution, since in the short run, just having a bag misplaced can cause as many problems as having things stolen.

2. Not having ANY currency for the country into which you are flying. Yes, most airport money changers charge high fees, along with other U.S. currency exchangers. But while airport shops may accept any currency, and some countries accept U.S. dollars, many do not. Especially at smaller shops or restaurants.

If you don’t know for a fact that your dollars will be accepted, get a small amount of foreign currency. At least this will mean you can get a snack, cab ride, or make a small purchase at, say, a drugstore, if an ATM is not readily available. A few dollars worth of local currency can be a lifesaver until you arrive at your hotel.

3. Not making a copy of your passport. This takes only a minute, and usually isn’t an issue. But it only takes misplacing or losing it once to change all that. While you’re making a copy, check the expiration date. (This last potential mistake happens more often than you might think.)

4. If you’re in a country that doesn’t use a Western alphabet, not having your hotel name written on a card or a piece of paper. English may be one of the most common languages in the world, but that won’t help if you find a taxi driver who doesn’t speak it, or if you just get lost and need directions back to your hotel.

5. Make sure itinerary dates match. On an itinerary where you have done air and hotels separately, spend a couple minutes making sure the dates match. Especially where overnight flights are involved. It’s bad enough to arrive at a hotel a day earlier than your reservation, it’s much worse to arrive a day late.

If you miss or may miss your flight …

If you miss your flight, don’t stress out. There’s more than one way to save your vacation or business trip.

What to do if you miss your flight

If you think you’re going to miss a flight, call your airline immediately, experts say. The sooner your airline knows that you’ll be late, the more options it has to fix it.

Although airlines often charge you for a new ticket if you miss a flight, there are important exceptions. But to find out if you qualify, you need to act fast. Calling the airline before your departure can significantly increase your chances of getting rebooked on the next flight at no additional charge.

How to fix a missed flight

It helps to understand what’s happening behind the scenes. When you miss a flight, it also puts your airline in a difficult position. Chances are, your seat has flown empty. Rebooking you on the next flight means giving you a free ticket. That’s why letting the airline know you’ll be late is so important; it allows the carrier to release the seat and maybe resell it, offsetting the lost revenue.

Your reasons for missing a flight matter

If you are at the counter, be polite, explain why you are late. Was the airport exit congested? Did it take too long to get to the counter? Make the case that you were late as a function of trying to get to the airport or counter or running to the gate. Most airlines have an informal “flat tire” rule that allows them to book you on the next available flight if you have a good reason for getting to the airport late, like, say, a flat tire. Those may include a medical emergency, an accident on the way to the airport or some documentable event beyond your control.

Typically, sleeping through your alarm doesn’t count, but agents have some flexibility in how they can apply the flat tire rule.

Airlines tend to throw the book in your face if you don’t have a good reason for being late and you tell them after the flight leaves. That’s when you normally have to buy a new ticket. But a little politeness can overcome this obstacle, too. Time and again, travelers say that being nice instead of demanding has gotten them on the next flight at no additional charge.

What are your rights when you miss a flight?

If you missed a flight because you were late to the airport, you don’t have any real rights. Most airlines will classify you as a “no-show” and keep your money. Note that your return flight will also be canceled automatically. If you contact the carrier before the flight departs, you may be able to get a partial ticket credit depending on the kind of ticket you have.

But if you miss a connecting flight, you’re not out of luck. Under most domestic airline policies — which are outlined in the contract of carriage on the airline website — if you miss a connection, it will rebook you on the next flight at no charge. If that means staying at the airport overnight, the airline will cover a hotel stay. For example, American Airlines will pay for a hotel if the delay is “within our control or you were diverted to another city, and we don’t board to your final destination before 11:59 p.m. local time,” according to its contract.

EU Regulation 261/2004

If you miss a connection on a flight to Europe, you might be entitled to even more. For certain missed connections European consumer regulations provide up to 600 euros, plus rerouting or a flight back to your point of departure at no extra cost.

When you’re on an international flight going to Europe and miss your connection because of the delay or cancellation of the first flight, you have rights,” says Thomas Busson, a spokesman for ClaimCompass, a service that helps passengers obtain compensation under EU Regulation 261/2004, the European consumer rule.

But here’s the best advice of all: Don’t be late. Set an alarm and don’t forget to turn up the volume on your phone. Set a calendar reminder with your flight itinerary. And give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport. Airlines such as United even publish check-in processing times to allow for better planning.

Tips for handling a missed flight

• Know the rules. Keep a copy of your airline’s contract of carriage (available from its website) or EU Regulation 261 on your smartphone for quick access. You can find a full copy of EU Regulation 261 on the EU website: eur-lex.europa.eu.

• Use a travel agent. A trusted travel adviser can help you schedule your ground transportation to ensure you get to the terminal on time. In-the-know agents can also quickly find the next available flight and use their connections to rebook you with a minimum of fuss.

• Think outside the box. There’s more than one way to get to your final destination. You can rent a car and get to your destination, within a reasonable distance. Problem solved. Lesson learned? “Consider other travel options if there is going to be a long delay to get to your final destination.