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What To Expect When Traveling: Travel Tips

As you may be aware, the travel industry is currently experiencing increased volume and prices, limited flight options, and evolving COVID-19 regulations. A regular email series, What to Expect When Travelling, is intended to equip University travelers with the latest travel industry information and tips.

The following tips were emailed to Concur users and Travel Card cardholders on the dates listed:

January 19, 2023: Extended Real ID Deadline
The Real ID deadline has been extended to May 7, 2025. As a reminder, a Real ID will be classified as a state issued driver's license or identification card that complies with the federal government’s increased security requirements. This Travelers Weekly article discusses the extension, explaining how several factors, including continued COVID-19 obstacles affected the new start date.

 

To ensure you are in compliance with the Real ID requirements be sure to check your state regulations, PA residents can review theirs here. If you are not a PA resident, we recommend you select your state to review its requirements, as they may vary from state to state.

 

January 6, 2023: UK Rail Strike
Disputes between the unions and rail operators have led to rail strikes in the United Kingdom that are expected to continue through at least January 8, 2023. The strikes will cause limited or canceled routes and schedules during the strike days. A recent Business Travel News article discusses what is causing these strikes and what travelers can expect during these times.

If you are traveling to Europe over the next week:

  • Review the strike schedule here to remain fully informed on when there will be schedule disruptions.
  • Check the train schedule on the day of travel to ensure you are aware of the most up to date schedule modifications during strike times as the schedules are subject to change each day.
  • Alternate forms of transportation besides rail travel are recommended when possible.
December 8, 2022: New British Airways Flights

British Airways will be offering increased direct flights from Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) to London Heathrow! This is great news for any Pitt travelers heading to London – under the University’s American Airlines agreement, offered through Concur and Anthony Travel, it allows University travelers to receive discounts with American Airlines’ business partners, which includes British Airways. A recent Blue Sky News article discusses this exciting change which we can expect to see implemented starting in April 2023. 

If you are planning to travel to London in or after April 2023: 

  • Book through Concur or with an Anthony Travel representative to ensure to receive the discounted rates.
  • If you have a trip planned, review the new flight additions to ensure you are on the best flight for your schedule.
November 7, 2022: November & December 2022 Travel

Many Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) plans to deck the airport halls with an increase in flights for the holiday season. Coming off this summer with a very high volume of travel and notable increases in delays and cancellations, PIT plans to resume previously suspended flights and add new flights in the coming months. A recent Pittsburgh Magazine article discusses the new flight options that will be available for holiday travel. The article mentions that the airport carriers are expected to be operating at nearly 91% of pre-pandemic levels by December.

If you are planning to travel in November and December:

  • Book your flights early to ensure the best rates and options
  • Review the new route options to pick the best flight for your travel plans
October 10, 2022: New Car Rental Fees

Many travelers have, unfortunately, grown accustomed to additional “hidden” fees, particularly with airfare and hotels. However, a recent Wall Street Journal article discusses three new fees that some in the car rental industry are now tacking on. Travelers should be aware of the following new fees and how to avoid these charges by utilizing Pitt’s University-wide Contracted Suppliers (see below):

  • The Fuel Service Charge comes when a traveler does not select the ‘pre-paid’ fuel option but still receives a charge for fuel. The charge may vary depending on the reason given by the rental property. 
  • The Cancellation Fee is a new fee made possible because of the requirement to provide a credit card to reserve a vehicle, a relatively new practice. Companies can now charge the credit card on file a cancellation fee on any prepaid rentals even when cancelled prior to 24 hours. 
  • Toll Handling/Convenience Fees are additional fees on top of the actual toll road costs which are charged by the rental car companies for paying the original toll cost.


If you are planning on renting a car: 

  • Book your rental through University-Wide Contracted Suppliers Enterprise/National Car Rentals. Booking with Enterprise/National provides: no hidden fees, discounted car rental rates, and insurance coverage.
  • The easiest method to book with the University’s contracted benefits is to book your car rental through Concur or with an Anthony Travel agent.
  • If you have a personal EZ Pass, it can be used to avoid the handling/convenience fees for toll charges, by adding the license plate of the rental vehicle to your personal EZ Pass account. 
  • Review your receipt after travel is complete. If there is any overbilling, those charges may be able to be disputed.

 

September 15 2022: Price Increases Expected for 2022 and 2023

Travel is continuing to pick up as well as travel prices. The latest trends are predicting continued price increases into and throughout 2023. A recent Business Travel News article explains these anticipated rising costs. While these projected increases are not certain due to changing variables such as global affairs and COVID regulations, the article shares the prediction that airfares on average will rise by an estimated 48.5% in 2022, followed by an 8.5% increase next year. Hotel rates are predicted to jump 18.5% this year and then a further rise of 8.2% in 2023. The article does note a smaller expectancy for price increases with car rentals, predicting a 7.3% increase for the remainder of 2022 and a 6.8% increase into 2023. 

If you are planning travel for 2022 or into 2023: 

  • Note that travel budgets may be impacted by these cost increases.  
  • Book in advance to ensure the best prices and guaranteed accommodations.
  • Be aware of potential price changes over the next year and a half when planning travel.
  • Leverage the University’s negotiated rates for airfare, hotels, and car rental through the Concur online booking tool or by booking with Anthony Travel.
  • If organizing any conferences/events, consider hosting a hybrid or virtual conference to help participants control costs. Visit this page to learn more about hybrid or virtual conferences/events and the University-wide Contracted Suppliers that offer these services.
August 26, 2022: American Airlines Flight Cuts Impact on PIT

American Airlines (AA) has recently announced a reduced flight schedule that will directly impact Pittsburgh travelers flying in or out of the Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT). AA will be cutting 17% of its flights slated for this November, and PIT will be one of the most affected airports. A recent Pittsburgh Magazine article discusses all the details surrounding these upcoming changes with the airline and how Pittsburgh travelers should plan accordingly, especially for their holiday travel plans. 

If you are planning a flight with American Airlines in the upcoming months: 

  • Book early to secure AA non-stop flights
  • Explore flights with one connection
  • Explore other University airline partners (Southwest, United, and Delta) in Concur for non-stop flights 
  • Visit this link to see what other airlines offer direct flights to your destinations
  • Work with Anthony Travel to find a flight that best suits your travel needs
August 12, 2022: Global Travel

A recent Worldwide Caution Advisory was issued by the U.S. Department of State in the wake of a recent U.S. military action, to remind U.S citizens to be alert when traveling globally. Travelers who are planning international trips should consult their destination country’s conditions by viewing the latest Travel Advisories. As a reminder, the University’s COVID-19 Standards and Guidelines, requires international business trips to be registered with International SOS (ISOS).

If you are planning to travel outside of the United States:

  • Check the U.S. Department of State website for U.S. citizen country-specific regulations.
  • To ensure University community members' safety and to facilitate extraction, should that be necessary, every international business trip must be registered via the Pitt ISOS portal. Booking via Concur or Anthony Travel automatically registers with ISOS. If you book outside of Concur or Anthony Travel, follow these instructions to manually register via ISOS.
  • Registration with the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is also strongly encouraged.
  • In an emergency, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate or call the following numbers: 1 (888) 407-4747 (toll-free in the United States and Canada) or 1 (202) 501-4444 from other countries.
  • Additional information about coverage for international business travel is available on the Global Operations Support website.
July 28, 2022: Hotel Costs and Amenities
Due to increased prices for labor and supplies, hotel room rates are surging as summer travel continues to increase. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, the average daily hotel rate from June 5th – July 2nd was up about 17%, compared with the same period in 2019. However, the article also notes that while hotel costs are increasing, travelers should not expect better service during their stays. Amenities and traditional services such as daily house keeping may not be as available at certain hotel properties.  

 

If you are planning on staying in a hotel: 

  • Check with your hotel for their current available amenities at the time of your stay.  
  • Amenities are subject to change based on property location and staffing and are not brand specific. 

 

July 21: Luggage When Flying
As air travel continues to soar and staffing at airports remains low, airports are now struggling to successfully transport checked baggage to travelers. As discussed in this recent NBC news coverage, travelers are experiencing significant increases in delayed, lost, and damaged luggage when checking a bag. In the US, baggage issue claims are up 135% over last year. In Europe, London Heathrow has accumulated an unprecedented amount of baggage due to delayed baggage transportation and stated they can only handle 100,000 outgoing travelers per day.

If you are planning a flight, below are the recommendations for your luggage:

  • Avoid checking luggage when possible.
  • If checking luggage, use the airline apps to track your baggage and flight information.
  • If you check a bag, be sure to include any valuables and essentials, such as medications and a change of clothes, in your carry-on.
July 13, 2022: Reduced Flight Schedules

As the airline industry continues to experience staffing shortages and the demand for travel continues to grow, travelers are experiencing increased delays and flight cancellations. To reduce these flight disruptions airlines are cutting their schedules back

According to a recent Simply Flying article, the first half of 2022 already has more cancelled flights than the whole of 2021. If these cancellation trends continue on the current path, travelers will see more canceled flights in 2022 than pre-pandemic 2019. Below are Pitt’s four preferred airlines statistics from January 1 - June 30, 2022:

Airlines Total flights scheduled Total cancellations % Flights canceled
American Airlines 515,801 17,138 3.3%

Southwest Airlines

629,627 15,664 2.5%

Delta Airlines

489,738 9,064 1.9%
United Airlines 372,406 8,642 2.3%

To help avoid flight disruptions if you are booking a flight:

  • Book your flight as far in advance as possible.
  • Select direct versus connecting flights if available, to avoid canceled connecting flights.
  • Review virtual collaboration options, when available, as opposed to flying for in person meetings.
  • When flying internationally, avoid Heathrow Airport (LHR) connections when possible.
  • Book flights with departure times early in the day.
    • Early flights are less likely to be impacted by staff being timed out and unavailable, leading to canceled flights.
    • If your flight gets canceled and there are multiple flights to the same destination scheduled for that day, you may have the option to be placed on one of the later flights that same day.
July 1, 2022: Hotels

Due to the impact of COVID-19 on the hotel industry, staffing shortages combined with increased travel may lead to adjusted accommodations and rates for travelers. A recent Business Travel News article discusses current hotel data including both global and domestic rates, occupancy, and booking trends expected in the upcoming months.

If you are planning a stay in a hotel:

  • Be aware that not all of the usual services or amenities may be available during your stay.
  • Call in advance to confirm any amenities you may need while visiting.
  • Anticipate flexibility with services such as general housekeeping. As this recent CBS News article discusses, due to profit losses, inflated supply costs, and the staffing shortage, traditional housekeeping such as daily room cleaning, fresh towels, beds being made, and other services travelers are used to when staying in hotels may not be provided. Travelers may have to request housekeeping services depending on the length of their stay.
  • Self-service kiosks may be available (or possibly the only option) at certain properties to provide contactless check-in and check-outs. A recent article discusses this new technology in the hotel industry.
June 24, 2022: Car Rentals
Car rental prices are currently inflated due to vehicle shortages and high volume of travel as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve.

A recent Bloomberg article (a subscription may be needed to view full article) addresses the current rental car industry trends. Bloomberg explains that in 2020 car rental companies greatly reduced their fleets when COVID-19 emerged. As travel rebounds, these companies are experiencing surges in business, but the smaller fleets are resulting in limited options and higher costs for travelers. According to the article dated June 6, 2022, “The companies hope to retain higher pricing even once supply and demand rebalance, which now probably won’t happen before next year.”

If you are planning on renting a car:

  • Enterprise/National are University-wide Contracted Suppliers and provide discounted rates that include auto insurance coverage. 
  • Enterprise and National Car Rental fall under the same umbrella. This means travelers can rent vehicles through either company.
  • Joining Enterprise’s Emerald Club provides perks and offers contactless key pickup using their app when booking rentals with National.
June 16, 2022: International Travel

Over the weekend the US Department of State released an announcement that all COVID-19 testing regulations have been lifted for US inbound flights as of June 12, 2022. Business Travel News also released this article discussing the recent change.

If you are planning any international travel: 

  • Be aware of your destination country’s COVID-19 regulations. Check the US Department of State travel page and the CDC’s website to stay informed of the most recent travel restrictions.
  • If you are traveling to a destination that requires testing, be sure to have a plan in place for a potential positive testing result prior to departure.
June 10, 2022: Pilot Shortages & Air Travel

There is currently a shortage of airline pilots, resulting in fewer flight options along with increased flight disruptions such as cancellations and delays. According to a recent AviationPros article, American Airlines has parked 100+ jets due to a lack of pilots. Additionally, a CBS article indicates that the industry is expecting a shortage of 12,000+ pilots by 2023, and United Airlines aims to address this by launching an in-house pilot academy.  

As a result, the following are some recommendations related to air travel:  

  • When possible, build in an extra day of travel on your trips to account for any possible flight disruptions and to ensure you do not miss important plans. 
  • If you experience a flight cancellation or delay and need to be rebooked on a new flight: Anthony Travel, the University’s preferred travel management company, has the advantage of being able to book flights across all airlines. Whereas agents with individual airlines are only able to present options within their airline.
  • Utilize flight itinerary apps: TripIt Pro and the airline app for the airline you are traveling will provide updated information on your flights. 
  • Patience during this difficult transition time for the travel industry is important and can help ensure your experience goes smoothly.
June 2, 2022: General Travel Tips

As you may be aware, the travel industry is currently experiencing increased volume and prices, limited flight options, and evolving COVID-19 regulations. This Wall Street Journal article, featuring travel industry experts, dives into why we are seeing these travel trends and what we can expect from the airlines in the future.

Considering the current state of the travel industry, it is important to anticipate challenges in booking and during travel as well as to understand the resources available to assist. The following are intended to help travelers in preparing for and during travel:

Travel Tips

  • Afterhours assistance: calling Anthony Travel after-hours assistance is the quickest way to receive help when experiencing a travel disruption versus calling an airline directly. Peak after hours wait times are as follows: Anthony Travel: 40-50 minutes; airline representatives: 4-5 hours
  • If you experience a flight disruption and need to be rebooked, it is important to know that once a traveler has checked in, the airport/airline controls that record. The airlines will only be able to look at flight options within their own airlines. To have access to all flight options and obtain the fastest service find an airline ticketing agent in the airport, while also calling Anthony Travel.
  • Using mobile apps to stay informed: to ensure you receive the latest updates from the airlines regarding flight information, be sure to download the airline apps as well as TripIt on your mobile device. Visit this page for more information about TripIt.
  • A travel waiver must be issued by airlines if there is any cost incurred from a flight disruption. If any airline does not offer to cover all costs, ask to speak to a manager or contact Anthony Travel.
  • If you experience a flight disruption, such as a cancellation, and need to be booked on a new flight but no flights are readily available, a car rental may be an option or a hotel room can be promptly booked to allow you to get out of a congested airport and be booked on the next available flight.
  • Travelling abroad: review the Travel Restrictions on joinsherpa.com. It is important to know that a positive COVID-19 test will deem a traveler unable to fly however it does not result in a refundable ticket or waiver. A new flight will need to be booked, please note change fees will be associated with the new booking. If traveling with students, it is important to have a chaperone plan in place to account for a chaperone to stay with any students who test positive and need to remain behind while the remaining students have a chaperone for the trip home. Stay tuned for additional tips to assist with travel as the industry continues to evolve.

For assistance while traveling or with booking questions, contact Anthony Travel.

For additional assistance, visit the Purchase, Pay & Travel website or contact Purchase, Pay & Travel Customer Service.