These days even seasoned travellers groan at the idea of another trip. High ticket prices, long waiting lines, and surcharges have stolen the pleasure out of pleasure travel. Not so, says Dane Steele Green of Steele Luxury Travel, a travell service for those in the know and on the go. Dane organizes luxury trips as well as private travel. He knows how to make any voyage — long or short – pain-free and delightful. Dane shares his tips and favourite picks for traveling in style.
DD: Are there any great bargains in luxury travel to be had these days –besides discounted hotels?
DSG: Of course! You can find bargains everywhere. I have found cruises for $45 per day — all inclusive. Airlines have all lowered their business class pricing. Organizations and regular consumers are no longer spending $5,000 per ticket to fly to Europe in Business Class. The airlines recognize this and have lowered prices to about $2,200 round trip. OpenSkies, an airline offering discount premium service flights to London, offers a low-cost business-class ticket to Paris.
In order for the other airlines to remain competitive, they have to match or even beat these prices. So, it skews the entire pricing schedule across the board. Rental cars are also cheaper. Travel is a luxury product when speaking beyond the terms of business travel. Naturally, the industry is down recently. How do you get customers back? Give them deals where they can only say "let’s do it!"
DD:You hear horror stories about airport, the waits, the lines and other issues, even if you are travelling business or first. What are your tips for surviving them, no matter what type of ticket you are travelling on? Sometimes an hour-long shuttle can be killing. Is there any way to minimize the pain?
DSG: I love airports. I have never had a "horror" story at an airport. I suggest when travelling though New York‘s JFKAirport, avoid the older Delta terminal — number 3. Check in at Terminal 2 – it’s a lot more refined. However, I have a few tips to make it less of a chore.
Do not check in too early for your flight. I have mastered the timing to checking into my flight. I check in, breeze through security, and walk right onto the plane. No need to be there two hours before your flight. One hour is plenty for domestic and even international, in my opinion.
ALWAYS check in online before your departure. This way, you have extra time to get to the airport. If you do not check in online, the cut-off time to be at the airport is much longer. If you are checked in, you only need to be there about 30 minutes before departure. Also, try not to check bags — that is where nightmares begin. Carry it all on — even if you have to schlep a bit
Airports are now destinations. There are shops, restaurants, and lounges. Buy a lounge pass if you have a long layover. Also, your American Express Platinum card will get you into many lounges on any paid ticket across the U.S.
DD: What are you favourite airlines and why?
DSG: I LOVE United Airlines. They have fantastic transcontinental service from JFKAirport to either SFO or LAX. It is called P.S. (premium service). They offer planes with First, Business, and Premium Economy. I prefer the business class as you get fantastic meal service and delicious lazy-boy-like recliners to relax and lounge. Austrian Airlines wins for European carrier. Their catering by Do & Co is delicious to say the least — comparable to a fine dining experience in New York — for real! Most Asian carriers are just simply luxurious; they pay great attention to detail. I love Delta and how they treat their elite members. My domestic upgrades clear five days before departure! It’s such a treat!!!
DD: So many people are using online travel sites; what are the advantages of using an agency?
DSG: Online travel sites are a game — you compare, click, purchase, and get different prices and such. However, a travel agent has insider ideas and perks that online cannot offer. Only agents can get you upgraded, hidden fares, and negotiate airline pricing. You will always be able to reach a good agency, even after hours. Online is not personal; you are just a number.
DD: Is it really a disaster to check your luggage? Planes today are hazardous, with people dragging so much junk onto them? What is the best packing or luggage strategy?
DSG: Yes, if you check your luggage, you wait, wait, and wait — and sometimes you don’t get your bags. Pack light and pack into the largest-allowed carry-on bag. Bring a carry-on rolly bag, a book-bag, and sneak on one more item — there you have your items for up to two weeks in Greece!