Newsletter

September School Holiday offers & more

 

 

Hong Kong Airport Reschedules Flights

Hong Kong International Airport will implement flight rescheduling on August 14, following two consecutive days of protests that resulted in the cancellation of all flights at the airport.
Passengers are reminded to pay attention to the latest flight information through the airport’s website and confirm their flights before heading to the airport, according to the statement.

Meanwhile, the airport authority has obtained an interim injunction to restrain protesters from gathering in the airport, except in designated areas.
SAA has said in a statement that it will resume flights between Johannesburg and Hong Kong from August 14.

 

US visas – more slots online

THE US Embassy has opened additional appointments for visa applications in centres around the country in response to criticism from agents struggling to get timely slots for their clients.

Until very recently, agents could not secure an appointment for this year in Johannesburg. Available times in Cape Town were from October and Durban from November. Now Johannesburg and Durban have availability from October, and Cape Town from September.

 

HEATHROW STRIKES - SUSPENDED


Strikes at Heathrow proposed for August 23 and 24 have been suspended. The airport advises passengers to check with their airline, in a statement released on its website.

 

 

HOTELS CHARGING 'HIDDEN' RESORT FEES

Hotels are charging resort fees without any need to disclose the amount upfront. This is a mandatory fee on top of the rate of a room. Yet, if trying to book a room online, for instance, a customer won’t see the resort fee until after clicking on the “book now” button. Basically, the hotel is telling the customer, “trust us,” all the while knowing what you saw is not what you are going to get.

So until then, you’re basically booking in the blind, because that resort fee could be anywhere from US$9 to $100 or really any dollar amount the hotel chooses to set the fee at. But you won’t know that upfront.

In the string of lawsuits that is forming, Hilton is the current hotel being sued over resort fees. (Hilton is not the only Hotel group charging “hidden” resort fees). The Nebraska Attorney General alleges that Hilton’s deceptive and misleading pricing practices and failure to disclose fees harmed consumers and violated Nebraska’s consumer protection laws. The Attorney General’s lawsuit seeks to force Hilton to advertise the true prices of its hotel rooms up front, provide monetary relief to harmed Nebraska consumers, and pay civil penalties.

Nebraska’s research found that “At least 78 Hilton properties in the United States currently charge these hidden fees, which range from $15 to as much as $45 per room per night, and consumers only find out about these fees after they begin to book a room” and that “resort fee disclosures are often hidden in obscure areas, confusingly worded, or presented in smaller print than the advertised rates.”

Charging for these fees is one thing. Disclosing them is another. Not all hotels abide by transparency in citing fees. Or to be more precise, the information is there, but will you be able to easily find it before booking a room and calculating the total cost? Most hotel chains advertise prices that do not include resort fees, so comparison shopping becomes impossible.

District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine previously filed a lawsuit against Marriott for hiding the true price of hotel rooms from consumers and for charging hidden resort fees to increase profits. He argued that this practice has harmed consumers, and he wants to force Marriott to advertise the true price for their hotels up-front, as well as provide monetary relief to DC consumers who have been harmed by this policy.

A resort fee is not something that is optional. It should be part of the room rate. There is no valid reason to separate it out, except for a couple of very important reasons.

While hotels are required to pay tax on resort fees, the cost charged to them by booking sites such as expedia only factors in the advertised room rate which does not include the resort fee. Same for travel agents – they earn commission based on the advertise room rate, which again, does not include the resort fee.

That’s a very tidy lot of savings for the hotels.

Resort fees can include such obscure costs for things like parking – even if you park your car yourself, room safe – even if you don’t use it, the swimming pool – even if you don’t stick a toe in the water, and online booking – yep, it’s gonna cost you often times $25 a night for using that convenience.

On the Internet, where seemingly anyone can find any bit of information about anything, the last disclosed information on what hotels took in only in the name of resort fees goes back to 2017. Back then, they raked in a cool US$2.47 billion.

It is about time the government stepped in to take on hotel resort fees. The issue is not about charging a resort fee. The issue is about readily disclosing the fee when advertising room prices. And not after clicking the booking button, but from the very get go.

 

 

FLY MANGO Launches GO Rewards - A Game Changer

 

FLY MANGO LAUNCHES NEW GO Rewards

Mango has launched a loyalty rewards programme that it describes as a game-changer in the airline industry as it allows passengers to access rewards within 24 hours of ticket payment.

“For every flight booked, customers are entitled to three rewards up to the value of R2 000. If they book a return flight, they get double rewards. A family of four flying return can enjoy rewards of up to R16 000,” The rewards are based on experiences and are divided into six categories: entertainment, days out, dining, fashion, pamper options and accommodation vouchers.

FlyMango - GO Rewards
Now rewarding you for flying with FlyMango …..

“For every flight booked, customers are entitled to three rewards up to the value of R2 000.
If you book a return flight, you get double rewards. A family of four flying return can enjoy rewards of up to R16 000,”
The rewards are based on experiences and are divided into six categories: entertainment, days out, dining, fashion, pamper options and accommodation vouchers.

They are valid for one month after the flight date.

Rewards can be accessed within 24 hours of making payment for flights when an SMS or email is sent to the provided contact details with a unique code.
This can then be used to redeem vouchers on www.gorewards-flymango.com.

Get started now ! or contact XL Oceanair Travel for further information.

 

 

Travel Lite to Tel Aviv - special fares and more "XL Oceanair Newsletter Jul19

 

 

Travel agent vs travel tech

Article by ASATA CEO Otto de Vries.(as appeared in Business Travellers 12Jul19)

Read below for real time reasons for using your Travel Mangement Company (TMC)

Although you’re probably interacting with a lot of travel technology – from apps and booking tools to online payment solutions – the real reason your trip is as seamless and hassle-free as it is, has more to do with your travel management company (TMC) than your travel tech.

Here’s why:

Your travel agent is a travel obstacle course pro

Although booking a return flight between Johannesburg and Cape Town is something you could do on your online booking tool (OBT), corporate travel is much trickier than nabbing a good deal on a domestic flight. Your TMC is an expert on all the aspects of business travel, including visas, early check-ins, car rentals and duty of care. They know more about the business of business travel than most, so even if you could arrange your business travel using a tech tool, your TMC would be able to do it much faster than you could.
Your TMC is more connected than you think

As much as your travel tech can be updated with flight delays and weather changes, your TMC has a host of travel industry relationships with insider information that your tech doesn’t. A business trip to that little town in the back-of-beyond? Your travel agent has the low-down on that little B&B; the internet does not.
Customised customer service

True personalisation comes with understanding the human factor of customer service. While you could fill out a traveller profile in your OBT, are you doing it in a way that will benefit your travel? Tech can only help you as far as you tell it to, but an expert TMC can identify the blind spots. They’d know exactly what you’d need as a first-time traveller or what bleisure to recommend for that off-day between meetings.
The real 911

Unlike your travel tech, a TMC can handle travel emergencies, especially when you’re trapped in a board meeting in Hong Kong. Your TMC can locate your lost luggage or make arrangements around a lost passport your travel tech can’t.

 

EGYPT 'DISMAYED' AS BA SUSPENDS FLIGHTS

Egypt has expressed its 'dismay' at British Airways' decision to suspend flights to Cairo over concerns of security risks.
BA announced daily flight between Heathrow and the Egyptian capital would be cancelled for seven days from Saturday July 20 as a precaution to allow for 'further assessment'.
Lufthansa also cancelled its Cairo flights on Saturday, citing an 'unclear security situation', adding safety is its 'number one priority'. On Sunday it announced on Twitter that it had resumed the service.
Egypt's aviation minister Younis al Masry met British ambassador Geoffrey Adams on Sunday and 'expressed his displeasure at British Airways taking a decision unilaterally concerning the security of Egyptian airports without referring to the competent Egyptian authorities,' according to a statement.

El Masry told the ambassador he was 'dismayed by the unilateral decision to suspend flights'.

A statement added: "The British Ambassador apologised to the Minister of Aviation for not informing Egyptian authorities before te decision was issued, stressing that the decision is not related to security measures at Egyptian airports."
BA said the suspension of services was its own decision and its flights will remain grounded until at least Friday, July 26. "The safety and security of our customers and crew is always our priority, and we would never operate an aircraft unless it was safe to do so."

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FREE e-VISA FOR FOREIGNERS TO ST PETERSBURG TERROTRIES AND LENINGRAD REGION

Russia’s President Putin signed a decree extending the electronic visa regime to the territory of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region. The relevant document was posted on the legal information website.

“To establish that from October 1, 2019 entrance to the Russian Federation and departure from the Russian Federation for foreign citizens via the checkpoints of the state border of the Russian Federation located in the territories of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region can be made on the basis of regular single-entry business, tourist and humanitarian visas in the form of electronic documents,” the decree reads.

“No consular fee is collected for the issuance of electronic visas,” the document states. “Foreign citizens arriving in the Russian Federation via checkpoints on the basis of electronic visas have the right to freedom of movement within the territories of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region,” the decree states. The period of authorized stay in Russia for e-visa holders will be up to eight days.

The President tasked the government “to determine particularities of electronic visas’ issuance for foreign citizens and their entry into the Russian Federation via checkpoints on the basis of electronic visas; approve the list of foreign countries, whose nationals can enter the Russian Federation and depart from the Russian Federation via checkpoints on the basis of electronic visas by October 1, 2019.”

 

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Drop unnecessary frills and give corporates what they want

Fewer and fewer business travellers can travel without due consideration for budget, which means that accommodation establishments hoping to retain this market need to concentrate on the essentials of corporate travel.
According to Lee Hendrikse, sales and marketing manager of Lagoon Beach Hotel & Spa, companies are reducing travel spend considerably, with many travellers opting for Skype calls instead of face-to-face meetings.
Garnet Basson, chief operating officer of The Capital Hotels and Apartments, believes while cost controls are a vital business imperative, investing in the services corporate travellers really want will contribute to reduced traveller friction.
There’s no need for unnecessary frills such as Tibetan wake-up calls, chocolates on pillows or porters, he believes. Instead, it’s complimentary high-speed uncapped WiFi that enables travellers to do business or relax with Netflix from anywhere in the hotel or pool deck. Or grab-and-go coffee and breakfast. 

“The Capital Hotels and Apartments gives business travellers what they want and need – and doesn’t add unnecessary expenses to clients’ bills.”
Corporates prefer a one-stop shop, he believes, which is why they are booking shorter stays and trying to do more within those stays.

The Capital on the Park – Sandton’s first purpose-built business resort – is situated alongside Sandton’s Mushroom Park, offering a beautiful 5km morning running opportunity. Other health and wellness facilities include virtual indoor golf, fitness centre, spa and a lap pool.

So while the various gym groups may offer national memberships and rewards incentives, he says there’s nothing quite as convenient as a well-equipped gym at the location where you’re staying that is accessible at any time.
Most hotels in the group have at least one restaurant, but all apartments include a fully equipped kitchen so guests can order up from the restaurant or cook their own food.

While around 80% of The Capital Hotels and Apartments’ customer base is corporate, its coastal properties do, however, have a larger leisure component during the peak holiday seasons.
“We’ve also noticed a trend where corporates are willing to pay slightly more when staying at our coastal properties, possibly because they’re happy to pay for sea views when they’re staying longer and because they travel less frequently than before.” 

Basson says each hotel gm is empowered to manage the property as if it were his or her own business, which means each hotel tailors solutions to meet clients’ budgets. Properties are also able to customise conferencing packages that include accommodation options.

Hendrikse says the Lagoon Beach Hotel & Spa team is always trying to meet client budgets and tailor-make accommodation options so as not to lose a potential booking.

Apartment-style hotel accommodation has many advantages for corporate travellers, especially when they need to get simple tasks done, such as laundry. The Capital Hotels and Apartments enables executives to benefit from a spacious two-bedroom apartment without having to share any private spaces such as a bedroom or bathroom. The lounge area makes it easy for collaborative meetings and guests can also prepare their own meals to stretch budgets further.

 

Be Careful  - as Tourists!

Two tourists have been fined and asked to leave Venice after brewing a coffee in front of the Rialto Bridge. The German backpacker's actions was reported to police by a local resident and the 32- and 35-year-olds were fined €950 (£850) under new rules introduced in May to preserve the city centre's 'decorum'.

 

Mega Emirates Sale

OR Tambo International Airport is to extend its irregular baggage rules over June and July.

 

Since March, round bags, bags with long hanging straps and those without flat surfaces have had a restriction placed on them. Betty Maloka, senior manager: corporate affairs at OR Tambo, says: “No passenger will be turned back due an irregular bag, rather our agents will educate the passenger on the correct bag and/or refer them to the baggage wrapping service.”

 

 

The State Department is now requiring nearly all applicants for US visas to submit their social media usernames, previous email addresses and phone numbers.

In a move that's just taken effect after approval of the revised application forms, the department says it has updated its immigrant and non-immigrant visa forms.
Social media, email and phone number histories had only been sought in the past from applicants who were identified for extra scrutiny, such as people who had travelled to areas controlled by terrorist organisations.

The new rules apply to all applicants for immigrant and non-immigrant visas. The new visa application forms list a number of social media platforms and require the applicant to provide any account names they may have had on them over the previous five years. They also give applicants the option to volunteer information about social media accounts on platforms not listed on the form.

In addition to their social media histories, visa applicants are now asked for five years of previously used telephone numbers, email addresses, international travel and deportation status, as well as whether any family members have been involved in terrorist activities. Only applicants for certain diplomatic and official visa types are exempted from the requirements.

 

 

MASSIVE WINTER WARMER SALE

Don’t miss out on Emirate's fantastic winter Mega Sale, offering massive savings on Economy, Business and First Class fares from Johannesburg/Cape Town and Durban to destinations below.
Fares include airport taxes but all subject to availability and Terms and Conditions apply.

 

 

Upgrading existing bookings using Gold Upgrade vouchers.

British Airways are pleased to announce that from 17 June 2019 you will now be able to upgrade existing bookings for Executive Club members when using their Gold Upgrade Vouchers, as well as new bookings.

 

LANDING CARDS - UK

The UK Government has announced from 20 May 2019 customers from all countries will no longer require landing cards on arrival into the UK, as well as the expansion of eGates for millions more passengers on arrival into the UK at most major airports. This will mean eligible passengers travelling with biometric passports from one of the following countries: Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the United States of America will join customers from the UK, EU, EEA countries (Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein) and Switzerland to use the eGates, a faster automated way through UK border control.

Passengers must also be aged 12 or older and in possession of a biometric passport. A small number of customers coming to the UK for a specific reason such as short term study, certain types of work or those travelling with children will need to see an officer on arrival. More information can be found here: www.gov.uk/border-force/fastertravel

Important visitor information regarding Citizens of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the USA are granted entry into the UK as a visitor for up to six months. As a condition of this entry into the UK these visitors cannot work, study and have no recourse to public funds.

 

France to propose new tax on flights in Europe

France has proposed a new tax on flights in Europe to encourage travellers to switch to less polluting forms of transport, a source in the transport ministry.

The airline sector is coming under increasing pressure from so-called "flight shamers" and climate change activists who point to the industry's large carbon footprint.

The French government will propose that the European Union adopt a new tax on air travel, which could be in the form of an extra levy on fuel or tickets, or changes to the European carbon emissions trading system.

"Different charges could be considered to reinforce the principle of 'polluter pays' and France believes that they should be weighed up in order to find the best way of doing it," the source said on Wednesday.

"Given the scale of the climate challenge, France believes that we need to go further and more quickly," the source added

 

HEATHROW CONNECTIONS TO GET EASIER

Star Alliance has added Heathrow to the list of airports that offer its Connection Service initiative.

Airport staff will use software to monitor passengers’ transfer windows and will take steps to ensure the customer reaches their connecting flight.

According to Star Alliance, the software will help staff see when passengers and their checked bags are in danger of missing their onward flight and allows them to consider the options available to help the customers make their connection, including personally escorting them to their next departure gate.

Agents can also take the decision to book delayed customers on to alternative travel options before the inbound flight lands.

The new service adds to Star Alliance’s enhanced transfer experience at its Heathrow Terminal 2 hub, and allows passengers whose flights arrive and depart from the terminal to pass through security within the same concourse to save time transferring between services.

The Star Alliance Connection Service launched at Chicago O’Hare in 2017, and has subsequently rolled out to airports including Frankfurt, Houston, Munich, Newark and Toronto.

 

 

KENYA GREAT MIGRATION STARTS EARLIER THAN USUAL

Kenya’s Great Migration, which usually starts in the Masai Mara in July and August, has started early this year, with Wildebeest already being spotted in the Mara River area.

“Herds have already been spotted along the Western Corridor/Grumeti Reserves,” says Chalo Africa, a company that provides eco-friendly experiences for Africa-bound tourists, and provides Migration forecasts and monthly updates. “We predict an earlier migration to the Mara as well this year, with herds most likely entering the Mara by the first week of July.”

The 1 510-square-kilometer Maasai Mara National Reserve usually sees the Great Wildebeest Migration taking place between July and October each year, offering tourists the opportunity to witness one of the most magnificent natural phenomena while on safari.

Over two-million animals migrate from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to the Maasai Mara National Reserve, including Thompson’s Gazelle, Zebra, Eland, and Wildebeest.

The early migration is due to the extended dry season, which sees water dry up in the Serengeti – leaving the only other source of water for the animals, the Mara River. While this may be a boon for travellers who have come to Africa in the hopes of witnessing this National Wonder of Africa, should climate change and human intervention continue as they stand, it could potentially change migration patterns in the future.

By the end of summer, which is usually the rainy season in September, the wildlife starts its journey back to the Serengeti, and visitors travelling to see the Great Migration would usually plan their travel around these times. This pattern change could impact bookings made around the Migration.

 

 

Mega Emirates Sale

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OR Tambo International Airport is to extend its irregular baggage rules over June and July.


Since March, round bags, bags with long hanging straps and those without flat surfaces have had a restriction placed on them. Betty Maloka, senior manager: corporate affairs at OR Tambo, says: “No passenger will be turned back due an irregular bag, rather our agents will educate the passenger on the correct bag and/or refer them to the baggage wrapping service.”

.................................................................................................................................................................................................................

 

The State Department is now requiring nearly all applicants for US visas to submit their social media usernames, previous email addresses and phone numbers.

In a move that's just taken effect after approval of the revised application forms, the department says it has updated its immigrant and non-immigrant visa forms.
Social media, email and phone number histories had only been sought in the past from applicants who were identified for extra scrutiny, such as people who had travelled to areas controlled by terrorist organisations.
 
The new rules apply to all applicants for immigrant and non-immigrant visas. The new visa application forms list a number of social media platforms and require the applicant to provide any account names they may have had on them over the previous five years. They also give applicants the option to volunteer information about social media accounts on platforms not listed on the form.

In addition to their social media histories, visa applicants are now asked for five years of previously used telephone numbers, email addresses, international travel and deportation status, as well as whether any family members have been involved in terrorist activities. Only applicants for certain diplomatic and official visa types are exempted from the requirements.

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MASSIVE WINTER WARMER SALE

Don’t miss out on Emirate's fantastic winter Mega Sale, offering massive savings on Economy, Business and First Class fares from Johannesburg/Cape Town and Durban to destinations below.
Fares include airport taxes but all subject to availability and Terms and Conditions apply.

 

.................................................................................................................................................................................................................

 

Upgrading existing bookings using Gold Upgrade vouchers.

British Airways are pleased to announce that from 17 June 2019 you will now be able to upgrade existing bookings for Executive Club members when using their Gold Upgrade Vouchers, as well as new bookings.

.................................................................................................................................................................................................................

 

LANDING CARDS - UK

The UK Government has announced from 20 May 2019 customers from all countries will no longer require landing cards on arrival into the UK, as well as the expansion of eGates for millions more passengers on arrival into the UK at most major airports. This will mean eligible passengers travelling with biometric passports from one of the following countries: Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the United States of America will join customers from the UK, EU, EEA countries (Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein) and Switzerland to use the eGates, a faster automated way through UK border control.
 Passengers must also be aged 12 or older and in possession of a biometric passport. A small number of customers coming to the UK for a specific reason such as short term study, certain types of work or those travelling with children will need to see an officer on arrival. More information can be found here: www.gov.uk/border-force/fastertravel
 Important visitor information regarding Citizens of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the USA are granted entry into the UK as a visitor for up to six months. As a condition of this entry into the UK these visitors cannot work, study and have no recourse to public funds.

 

.................................................................................................................................................................................................................

 

France to propose new tax on flights in Europe

France has proposed a new tax on flights in Europe to encourage travellers to switch to less polluting forms of transport, a source in the transport ministry.
The airline sector is coming under increasing pressure from so-called "flight shamers" and climate change activists who point to the industry's large carbon footprint.
The French government will propose that the European Union adopt a new tax on air travel, which could be in the form of an extra levy on fuel or tickets, or changes to the European carbon emissions trading system.

"Different charges could be considered to reinforce the principle of 'polluter pays' and France believes that they should be weighed up in order to find the best way of doing it," the source said on Wednesday.

"Given the scale of the climate challenge, France believes that we need to go further and more quickly," the source added.

 

.................................................................................................................................................................................................................

 

HEATHROW CONNECTIONS TO GET EASIER

 

Star Alliance has added Heathrow to the list of airports that offer its Connection Service initiative.

Airport staff will use software to monitor passengers’ transfer windows and will take steps to ensure the customer reaches their connecting flight.

According to Star Alliance, the software will help staff see when passengers and their checked bags are in danger of missing their onward flight and allows them to consider the options available to help the customers make their connection, including personally escorting them to their next departure gate.

Agents can also take the decision to book delayed customers on to alternative travel options before the inbound flight lands.

The new service adds to Star Alliance’s enhanced transfer experience at its Heathrow Terminal 2 hub, and allows passengers whose flights arrive and depart from the terminal to pass through security within the same concourse to save time transferring between services.

The Star Alliance Connection Service launched at Chicago O’Hare in 2017, and has subsequently rolled out to airports including Frankfurt, Houston, Munich, Newark and Toronto.

 

.................................................................................................................................................................................................................

 

KENYA GREAT MIGRATION STARTS EARLIER THAN USUAL

Kenya’s Great Migration, which usually starts in the Masai Mara in July and August, has started early this year, with Wildebeest already being spotted in the Mara River area.

“Herds have already been spotted along the Western Corridor/Grumeti Reserves,” says Chalo Africa, a company that provides eco-friendly experiences for Africa-bound tourists, and provides Migration forecasts and monthly updates. “We predict an earlier migration to the Mara as well this year, with herds most likely entering the Mara by the first week of July.”

The 1 510-square-kilometer Maasai Mara National Reserve usually sees the Great Wildebeest Migration taking place between July and October each year, offering tourists the opportunity to witness one of the most magnificent natural phenomena while on safari.

Over two-million animals migrate from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to the Maasai Mara National Reserve, including Thompson’s Gazelle, Zebra, Eland, and Wildebeest.

The early migration is due to the extended dry season, which sees water dry up in the Serengeti – leaving the only other source of water for the animals, the Mara River. While this may be a boon for travellers who have come to Africa in the hopes of witnessing this National Wonder of Africa, should climate change and human intervention continue as they stand, it could potentially change migration patterns in the future.

By the end of summer, which is usually the rainy season in September, the wildlife starts its journey back to the Serengeti, and visitors travelling to see the Great Migration would usually plan their travel around these times. This pattern change could impact bookings made around the Migration.