Archive for February, 2013


February 27th, 2013 by Mariah is pleased to announce the upcomimg launch of our redesigned website!

We are confident that the changes in place will make the overall experience of the site better for both members, and their potential guests.

Some exciting changes include:

  • Complete redesign of the site, with a bold, eye-catching, yet user-friendly new look.
  • New search functions, making it easier for guests to find the perfect property.
  • Members will have the ability to upload their own photos.
  • Interactive map features, and Google maps.
  • Links to TripAdvisor for property reviews.
  • Mobile version of the site compatible with all major devices.
  • Extended social media marketing.
  • Updated blog look and content.

In addition, your member log in information will not change, and your renewal rate will not increase. As we do not currently have a set launch date, each member will receive an email letting them know when they can expect these exciting changes to occur. It will be within the next month or so.

Thank you again for your membership and support, and we look forward to a great 2013!

Mariah Walters
CEO of

10 signs you are a bad traveler

February 27th, 2013 by Mariah

You know the guy who’s always holding up the plane by trying to cram five bags, a jacket, and a pillow into the overhead compartment? Don’t be that guy. Read on to discover 10 warning signs that you may be a terrible traveler.

You Have an Expired Passport and You Don’t Even Know It

Some countries require that your passport be valid for at least six months after the completion of your trip just in order to enter. You may think you’re in the clear if your passport expires in 2014, but if you’ve got a trip planned for November 2013, you’d better get it renewed before then. Always research entry requirements, including visas and vaccines, and be sure your passport is up-to-date. (If you find out the night before that your passport is expired, read this simple solution to a last-minute passport snafu to learn what you can do to save your trip.)

Your Bags are Overweight (and You’re Surprised)

If you’re at the counter frantically repacking your checked bags to get under your airline’s weight limit, you might be a terrible traveler. Invest in a luggage scale (or a bag with a built-in weighing system, like the Delsey Helium Ultimate 25-Inch Expandable Spinner Trolley suitcase) and never be socked with an overweight fee again. Always double-check your airline’s weight allowances and make sure the limits apply to connections, especially if you’re going from an international to a domestic flight.

You Haven’t Done Your Research

Will things be open this time of year? What currency does your destination use? What language is spoken there? If you don’t know (and you don’t care), you might not be the greatest traveler. There’s a difference between being spontaneous and adventurous and being foolishly unprepared—the former leads to exciting stories and fun possibilities, and the latter leaves you in tears and stranded without a hotel during a major festival.

You’re Cutting It Too Close

Years ago, maybe you could have rolled into the airport a half hour before takeoff, but not these days. Always leave a little bit earlier than you think you need to for the airport, train station, or bus stop—you never know if security or check-in lines will be long, or if you’ll need extra time due to getting lost, roadwork, etc. Better to kill a few extra minutes at the gate than to miss your transportation.

You Don’t Know the Carry-on Rules

The TSA may overlook knives and other weapons on a fairly regular basis, but they’ll always find that 4-oz. bottle of shampoo you’ve stashed in your carry-on. Moral of the story: Know your 3-1-1 rules. Triggering a search of your carry-on bag really clogs up the line behind you.

You Spend All Your Time on the Computer

“Joe Schmo has checked in at a deserted beach (with Wi-Fi!).” ” Joe Schmo is living the dream in paradise.” “Joe Schmo has Instagrammed 500 new pictures.”When you see hundreds of real-time social-media updates from the same person on your feeds, don’t you wonder if he’s really making the most out of his trip? Don’t view your vacation from behind a screen. Uploading pictures and editing your Facebook status can wait until you get back, so put down the smartphone and step away from the computer!

You Don’t Check In Online

Did your flight time change? If you didn’t check in online, you might not know. Waiting to check in at the airport also makes you more likely to be bumped if the flight’s full—or even worse, stuck in the dreaded middle seat of the last row. If you want to snag the best seats and get updates on your trip, check in online as soon as you’re allowed to. You don’t need to be near a printer, either. Many airlines let you check in and display your boarding pass on your smartphone, and most airports offer kiosks (usually with much shorter lines) so you can print your pass when you arrive at the airport.

You Didn’t Make a Packing List

Don’t be the traveler begging the front desk to borrow a power converter or the guy who doesn’t know how to reach an English-speaking doctor to prescribe the medicine he forgot. Consult this ultimate packing list, use an app, or simply make your own checklist. You’ll be able to pack everything you need (and nothing more) for your trip, even at a moment’s notice.

You Brought Too Many Carry-ons

If you’re trying to circumvent the rules by bringing on an oversized suitcase plus multiple personal items, please stop. When you’re blocking the aisle, trying to shove your laptop under the seat or filling your entire row’s overhead compartment with your giant puffy jacket, full-sized pillow, and yoga mat, just know that everyone else on the plane hates you, you terrible traveler.

You Yell at People

The ultimate sign that you’re a terrible traveler is yelling at or otherwise being rude to travel staff or fellow tourists. Don’t take out your anger about a canceled flight on a helpless gate agent who is just trying to do his or her job. Likewise, it’s not your fellow passenger’s fault that you’re stuck in a middle seat, so stop passive-aggressively sighing and trying to invade her personal space. By all means, stand up for yourself—but be polite. And if you’re not getting any results, try a different approach or contact a different provider to help. Just don’t stand at the hotel’s front desk screaming at someone and holding up the line behind you.

– By Caroline Morse

Why The American Airlines-US Airways Merger Won’t Be All That Awful

February 27th, 2013 by Mariah

I’ve been reading some rather dire predictions about the fate of the U.S. airline industry as a result of the American/US Airways merger. Here are nine reasons why the merger actually might be good for consumers. Call it “silver lining” reasoning, but consider:

1. There will be real savings, which can be passed along to consumers (or at least put a brake on fare rises). Better use of fuel-efficient jets between the two fleets (AA can get rid of those gas guzzling MD-90s); back office savings (accounting, marketing, IT, management, sales, PR, etc).

2. Fares won’t increase all that much, if at all. If airlines have learned one thing, it’s that people stay home, drive or video-conference if fares go too high. Most air travel is discretionary, not “must do.”

3. If fares on certain routes do go higher, that will make it more profitable for competitors to step in and lower fares once again. Yes, fares on “duopoly” nonstop routes (those where only US and AA fly nonstop, such as Dallas DFW-Charlotte, Philadelphia-Miami) may go higher at first, but that will open the door for VirginAmerica, JetBlue or another carrier to step in profitably. In fact, once the airline industry becomes consistently profitable, we may see another JetBlue enter the fray.

4. Service should improve. Bankrupted airlines lead to grouchy employees, dirty planes, and generally a bad experience. Maybe they’ll bring back coloring books for the kiddies.

5. You’ve been paying for these bankruptcies through the backdoor anyway, all these years. Every time an airline files Chapter 11, it reneges on its pension plans, and the U.S. government takes over–that comes out of your taxes. And investors (banks, pension funds, etc.) who lose money on airline investments pass the losses on to you one way or another.

6. You’ll still have at least four options to get from A to B on many routes, or as many as 9 on some routes (New York to LA for instance).

7. Foreign-based airlines are expanding service from the U.S.–Emirates, Turkish, Air Berlin, Qatar. That may help keep international fares moderate.

8. You’ll have more ways to get where you’re going if there’s a delay or cancellation. Pre-merger, American wouldn’t put you on a connecting flight through US Air’s Charlotte hub if your flight via Dallas is canceled; but a combined AA/US will do just that. More flight combinations will be possible.

9. You’ll have more miles to play with. If you have 10,000 in US and 15,000 in AA (not enough for a free trip), now you will have enough.

This may seem contrary to logic, and a bit Pollyanna-ish, but airline consolidation is a reality and it’s not going to be as bad as some consumerists predict. In fact, it may be a win-win.

Budget cuts would hit private air traffic in effort to spare airlines

February 27th, 2013 by Mariah

Washington (CNN) — Federal aviation officials are telling airline and airport executives that they are working to minimize any disruption from imminent government budget cuts to passenger airline service, but warn the mandatory belt-tightening will impact air traffic overall.

At a meeting in Washington on Tuesday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it would give priority to 77 “core” facilities — large airports and their related air traffic control centers, which it did not identify.

But the agency would reduce staffing system wide and would likely close 238 control towers at less busy airports. Those towers handle 5.8 percent of all commercial air traffic, the FAA said.

“It was clear at the meeting that the brunt of the cuts were at the cost of general aviation (private and business aircraft), and the agency even recognized that,” said Melissa Rudinger of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, a group representing private pilots in Washington.

The Transportation Department faces about $1 billion in budget cuts through the end of the fiscal year unless Congress acts by Friday to avert them. The cuts are part of a political impasse affecting spending across the government.

Much of the agency’s austerity will hit the FAA, which employs about 15,000 controllers and oversees traffic at more than 400 airports used by commercial airlines, business jets and private pilots.

Large airports will also be impacted.

All FAA employees have been told they may be furloughed at least one day every two weeks, inevitably meaning that aviation facilities will have fewer controllers.

While the cuts would inevitably reduce the number of operations — take-offs and landings — the FAA said it would maintain the highest level of safety.

The impact would be greatest at the nation’s small- and mid-sized airfields, the FAA acknowledged.

The 238 control towers facing possible closure met a criteria established by the FAA: They have fewer than 150,000 operations a year and fewer than 10,000 commercial airline operations.

Opinion: Cuts will turn off voters GOP is courting

Of those towers, 189 are “contact towers,” operated under FAA supervision by independent contractors. The remaining 49 are staffed by FAA controllers.

FAA officials said it would consider removing a tower on a case-by-case basis if advocates could justify a change. But any towers spared from closure would have to be off-set by cuts elsewhere, they said.

Most of the changes would occur at the start of April, and would ratchet up over a period of months. The first furloughs would begin April 8, according to a meeting participant.

If a tower is closed, operations at those airports would continue. But controller operations would be shifted to other facilities, or to the pilots themselves, who would radio their intentions to take off, land, and maneuver on the ground.

Ground operations could present the biggest danger to pilots, since it would remove from service controllers who are trained to look for conflicting movements on the runways and taxiways.

Critics say the FAA failed to consider important factors when compiling its list of towers, including whether the towers were also used for military operations and for search and rescue missions.

FAA officials also said Tuesday it would suspend development of its NextGen navigation system so it could reassign employees to control towers. And it would suspend its redesign of airspace — an ongoing program to make the area around airports more efficient.

The FAA also said budget cuts would force it to cut back on maintenance and repairs at “non-core” facilities. Only power, voice and navigational systems would be fixed at those facilities, the FAA told the industry executives.

Rudinger said while the FAA disclosed a few new details about its plans to deal with forced spending cuts — known in Washington as sequestration — it was “certainly not as much detail as we were looking for going into the meeting.”

Participants in the meeting questioned whether the FAA is making the smartest cuts.

”Clearly they have to make the cuts,” Rudinger said. “What’s unclear is how they came up with them. There hasn’t been any transparency in the process.”