10 Unique Airport Lounges in the United States

While world travelers would argue that airport lounges in the United States have a long way to catch up with world standards, there are some United States airport lounges in the United States that are worth checking out. While these often come as perks for flying first class, others are accessible depending on the credit card you have in your pocket. Additionally, you can get in almost all of them by paying a fee at the door.

Best Airport Lounges East of the Mississippi River

The Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at John F. Kennedy Airport allows you to get complimentary treatments at the spa which can include facials, hair styling or manicures. Guests can use upscale bath products to take a shower. A large selection of tapas and top-flight champagne makes this a great place to relax.

Another great lounge at John F. Kennedy Airport is Lufthansa First Class Wining and Dining Lounge which is accessible only to those flying first-class on this airline as it takes a special code to operate the elevator. Enjoy the complimentary single-malt scotch or other drinks before embarking on a delicious five-course meal or choose from the a la carte menu.

The Club at Atlanta’s Airport is consistently packed. This is one of the few airport lounges to offer complimentary cocktails. The Bloody Mary’s here are superb. This lounge offers outstanding workstations, and they have telephones if your cell phone is not working.

While Delta operates many Sky Clubs around the world, their flagship lounge is the one in John F. Kennedy airport. The outside patio-like area facing the tarmac makes this a great place to unwind while snacking and drinking.

While there are over 600 United Clubs around the world, the one at Washington D.C’s Dulles Airport is unique because it is located in the original cafeteria to this airport. The art deco architecture has been lovingly restored to its original grandeur.

Best Airport Lounges West of the Mississippi River

The five American Express Centurion Lounges west of the Mississippi River each offer unique twists on local culture. When feasible, local wines are featured along with food created by local chefs to take advantage of iconic foods in the area. Many have flat-screen televisions and those west of the Mississippi River feature showers.

Most of the Star Alliance Lounge at Los Angeles International is located outside making it a great place to relax if you are tired of being stuck indoors. The lovely patio features a waterfall, which can help to calm frayed nerves in a natural way. You can also check out a book from their library or watch a movie from their large collection. Dine on a variety of complimentary snacks while enjoying an alcoholic beverage.

The Cathay Pacific Lounge at San Francisco International Airport is worth checking out. After leaving the elevator, make sure to check out the aviation art in the hallway on the way to this 9,000-square-foot lounge. A variety of seating makes it easy to relax in this lounge. This lounge has very nice shower rooms hidden in the back of it. While the hours for food are limited, the Hong Kong noodles are fantastic here.

One of the most beautiful airport lounges in the United States is Air Canada’s Maple Leaf Lounge at Los Angeles International Airport. This lounge in Terminal 6 was designed by Brent Comber using birchwood. As with most lounges, this intimate lounge features free food and drink.

Alaska Airlines’ Board Room in Concourse D is a beautiful space to work. This lounge is spread across two floors with patrons having the option to use the elevator or the stairs to access the upper level. The bottom level contains plenty of workspace along with Seattle’s famous coffee.

While airport lounges in the United States still need to move forward to catch up with many parts of the world, these 10 lounges are the best lounges available. Many of them have been redesigned to allow ample room for work and relaxing. Check them out the next time you are in their respective airports.

 

Hacks to Find the Cheapest North America Plane Tickets

If you are ready to hop on a plane to see your Aunt Jane in Des Plaines, Illinois or jump aboard a flight to see Dwight Yoakam in concert in Birmingham, Alabama, then you need to learn how to find the cheapest plane tickets in North America.

When to Buy Your Airplane Tickets for North America Travel

After doing number crunching on over 5 million tickets, the cheapest day to book your flight is 54 days ahead of when you intend to fly. As a general rule, airlines price tickets 11 months out and they tend to leave the prices alone until they are six months away. Many travelers pay about a $50 premium during this time, but they get the best time slots and plane seats. Starting at about 177 days before a flight, airlines tend to cut prices by about $33. The best prices are usually found from 21 to 105 days before the flight with many airlines cutting prices another $50 off their already reduced fare. If you miss this booking window, then prices start to climb again. Do not wait until you have only a few hours because you will pay the highest price for your ticket with many airlines adding up to $250 to the ticket price.

Go Incognito

When you start looking at a particular route, the airline puts a cookie on your computer. The next time that you look at that flight, the price will normally have gone up just a little. Keep looking and the price may continue to rise slightly each time because the airline sees this as a sign that you are really interested in that ticket. Smart computer users, however, know that going incognito allows them to look without the airline knowing. If you are using Chrome, then you can open an incognito window on your computer by simply pressing Ctrl+ Shift + N at the same time. Otherwise, you can do it under the settings tab on your computer. If you are not computer savvy, then consider heading to the public library and purchasing your ticket using their computer system or use the one at work. Otherwise, you can clear your cookies which allows you to appear as a new customer to the airlines.

Consider Discount Carriers

You can often find better deals with discount carriers. Even though the airlines have to meet the same safety regulations as the full-price airlines, discount carriers offer many tickets at a lower price.

The largest discount carriers in North America include:

  • WestJet Airlines
  • Volaris Airlines
  • Viva Aerobus Airlines
  • Virgin America
  • Vision Holidays
  • Sun Country Airlines
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Spirit Airlines
  • Porter Airlines
  • JetBlue
  • Interjet Airlines
  • go!
  • Frontier Airlines
  • Air Transat
  • Allegiant Air

While most ads that you see on Facebook giving away free ads are scams, airlines often announce their best prices on their Facebook pages. Therefore, find out which airlines serve the route you are interested in from these discount airlines and watch their pages. Someone may even make a mistake and post the wrong price, but if you catch it fast enough you can already have your ticket bought.

If you want to get the best price on your airline ticket for travel in North America, then try to purchase your ticket 54 days ahead of time. Make sure to shop for tickets using an incognito window or a different computer than you use to make the purchase. Finally, make sure to consider discount airlines.

Why Business Travel Policies Are Important

If you run a business that demands travel, then you more than likely to have some sort of travel policy in place. Your travel policy also should have procedures in place that cover most contingencies that employees might face on the road. But when was the last time your policy was reviewed? It is a good idea to do this at least once a year to make sure that it’s not limiting your business growth and frustrating your employees. The other reason to do this review is that change is pretty constant in all things and reviewing your company’s policies and procedures in travel and expenses related to travel and business may be exactly what you need to drive up your business results and decrease your travel expenses.

Here are five things you may want to consider when creating or updating your company travel policy. First of all, base your policy on the employees that will be traveling the most and on what they feel and on what would be beneficial for them. As an example, they may not care what hotel they stay at, but they may prefer to eat better than the fair available at a low-cost hotel. In that case, the money you saved on accommodations could be reallocated on better dining options. Avoid a standardized travel policy, instead, you could even adapt it to the traveling employee’s lifestyle.

Your travel policy is a tool for communication. If properly laid out it will provide clarity and boundaries for those employees that travel. It is a company guideline policy. It should detail everything from booking flights to reserving rental cars. It should also put whatever limits are expected by the company for payment of these services. As an example, do you expect the lowest air fares available to be purchased by your employees or is first class acceptable? All of these things need to be communicated in you travel policy manual.

Don’t forget that travel, especially long-term traveling, will take your employee away from their friends and family. This can take a physical and even a mental toll on people. You can soften some of that burden by allowing your traveling employees to use their personal travel reward memberships for flights and even hotel stays. This way they not only are making a paycheck but they are also accumulating points toward their next family vacation.

Because the price of travel is constantly changing, travel policy and procedures manual should be reviewed at the very least on an annual basis. This will allow you to balance your travel budget by being aware of any additional costs that crop up. Here are a few of the items that you might want to know about.

  1. What is the cost of travel now? Does the company’s budget allow for the necessary expenses? What are the average gains for the company based on travel days and prospects seen?
  2. Are company employees getting what they need when they travel? Are there things that would make their travel more comfortable? Are they making any unnecessary purchases?
  3. Have there been any issues or employee complaints that might change your policy or procedures?
    • Answering these questions can help you refine your company travel policy and could even possibly help control the costs involved. You should also evaluate industry trends and regularly assess your travel budget needs. This will help you discover if your travel budget is accurate along with your projected travel expenses. Also keeping track of new business contacts and new customer acquisitions versus money spent to acquire them. This number will give you what the cost benefit analysis of your business travel actually is. Be especially aware of even small costs that could possibly be considered minor. These seemingly insignificant expenses can add up to a surprisingly large amount if not kept under control.
  4. Be Aware of Scams

When you create a travel policy, always be sure to put in checks and safeguards to prevent employees from taking advantage of the company. Turning in receipts in this digital world we all live in today is just not enough as technology advances. As it advances, so do the chances for successfully manipulating travel expenses by employees. There are, as an example, websites that actually allow the users who log in generate fake receipts. Here is an example of what I’m talking about, just click or paste the hyperlink http://goo.gl/XT6WNb into your browser. Because of sites like this and the fact that it’s illegal to request an employee’s personal credit card statements, there is little chance of proving that this sort of activity goes on with the employees you have that do travel.

However, there is a way around all of this without calling an employee’s character into question, just get your company to issue the traveling employee a corporate credit card. Another way to attack this problem is with a company expense card. Expense cards can be managed easily and all expenses can be tracked and accounted for as they are paid for. You have the ability to approve card funds and even set limits on spending if you wish. Which one is best for you is personal preference.

One of the biggest expenses a company has, is with airline travel. However, what many people are unaware of is that you may be able to actually negotiate airline rates. You can, if you have an attractive travel schedule, even be able to get into a cooperative traveling schedule with an airline. These kinds of arrangement do occur depending on the amount of travel you intend on doing and some other factors. While this is becoming harder to accomplish, it’s still possible if you can demonstrate a significant travel volume, and your ability to control and shift your travel volume to a preferred airline.

Negotiating rates with airlines is, however, becoming an increasingly difficult proposition as airlines consolidate, trim routes and limit discounts to protect their always-fragile bottom lines. It can still be done, but in order to even get an airline to pick up the phone and engage in negotiations, you have to demonstrate a significant travel volume, and the ability to control and shift that volume to a preferred airline. Once you have that foundation, set realistic goals for negotiations based on the scope of your travel program. If you are inexperienced with these negotiations, you might need to use a knowledgeable consultant for their expertise.

Another way to handle these costs is by using a Travel Management Company. What they can provide you, can be all inclusive if that is what you need. They can decide on the class of service employees are allowed to fly on, they are able to negotiate corporate fares with airlines and hotels, and can even how corporate credit cards are used by your employees. For many, if not most companies, travel and expense costs are generally the second highest controllable annual expense facing a company.

The Travel Management Company’s job then is to offer a set of comprehensive services to its clients. They may have the ability to provide you with the best airfares and give you all the tools that you need to manage, to adapt and to advise your travel requirements. Whether their customers are large or small, they can enhance the travel experience and make certain that the business travelers itineraries are successfully met.

Another thing that is important to the companies that provide this service is the customers’ travel management needs. To remain competitive, the best of these companies offer solutions that are reliable, cost-effective, and compliant with local ordinances. However, what generally sets a business apart from its competitors is its customer service. The difference in travel management companies is, of course, their customer service and their scale. Are they local, regional or global and are they innovation driven or technology driven?

There are, as you may have noticed here, many variations of services available in different Travel Management Companies. The only way to really determine which one is best suited to your needs is to do a Google search and either go onto their website or give them a call and talk to them about your needs. Once you find one, you are comfortable with, always get several referrals you can speak with to double check their references. In fact, talk to the company CEO, the owner of the company or their Chief Operating Officer to get to the truth of how effective the travel management company actually is in providing the services that you need.