Friday, December 18, 2009

10 things to know to keep your luggage from getting lost

From the Consumerist web site:

It's late night at the airport and you're the only one left standing at the baggage carousel, waiting for your luggage to arrive. The same blue duffel passes you like a broken record. Reality sinks in. Your baggage is lost. Tears form. Then, a rustling of rubber flaps. A form begins to emerge from the wall. Could it be, your lost bag? No, it is a man, a baggage handler man, covered in dust. He pats himself off and plants himself before you and begins a soliloquy. He is here to tell you you the 10 ten things you need to know to keep your bags from getting lost:

Click the above link to read more.

Monday, November 30, 2009

No surprises. Luggage limits helps you avoid expensive baggage fees.

From Life

Nobody wants to get hit with a massive over-limit luggage charge when they're already stressed and rushing to catch their flight. Hit up Luggage Limits before you travel to avoid any check-in counter surprises. We don't know if you've visited the web site of a major airline lately and attempted to decode their baggage policies but a significant number of the airlines have baggage policies that are not only buried deeply in their sites but written in a less than clear fashion.
Luggage Limits catalogs the baggage policies of over 90 airlines. Plug in what airline you are traveling with, your departure and arrival airports, and the class of your ticket—no surprise that first class has a higher luggage limit—and Luggage Limits spits out a comprehensive breakdown of cost of checking bags, the size limits for both standard and overweight/oversize baggage—and the associated fees—and the size and weight allowance for your carry-on and personal items. Reading the information on Luggage Limits for Northwest Airlines was much clearer than reading it on the Northwest web site, that's for sure.
Luggage Limits is a free service and requires no registration or personal information.

Click the above link for more information

Sunday, November 29, 2009

800 Passenger A380 Superjumbo debuts

From Time Magazine:

The A380 is the largest airliner to ever part with the pavement: it can hold as many as 800 passengers in full sardine-can configuration, although Air France has mercifully limited the crowd to 535 in first, business and coach classes. In preparation for its entry into service in 2007, airports widened runways and hardened taxiways. Its catering trucks rise two stories off the ground to reach the galleys. 

France's national carrier got the debut of the Europe-built jet off with considerable élan. The flight leaving John F. Kennedy Airport was packed with partying Francophiles, journalists and airline junkies. A band on board played "C'est Magnifique" before takeoff and during the flight; birthdays were celebrated; the champagne flowed.

Air France is trying to bring back the party to the skies. There are six bars on the plane, which encourages passengers to mingle (in their own class, of course). In the front of the upper deck, in the business section, there's even an art gallery of sorts: flat-screen TVs displaying digital previews of the New York and Paris cultural scenes, a somewhat lavish use of space.

Read more by clicking the above link.

$8.5 billion CityCenter opens next week

From the Las Vegas Review Journal:

In the 61 months between the announcement MGM Mirage was creating an urban metropolis on the Strip called Project CityCenter and Tuesday's planned opening of its first hotel, Vdara, the $8.5 billion development seemed to be on constant life support.
Almost as soon as MGM Mirage imploded the shuttered Boardwalk casino on May 9, 2006, to clear a major portion of the CityCenter site, the project seemed to be shrouded in bad news.

The recession, which led to the collapse of the credit markets, and other outside financial factors nearly derailed CityCenter, which saw its budget more than double beyond the initially announced $3 billion to $4 billion.

The project came within hours of filing bankruptcy at the end of March, which would have halted construction and shelved the jobs of 8,500 construction workers. With little time to spare, MGM Mirage was given permission to make a $200 million equity payment to keep the project funded.

The demise of the high-rise condominium market forced MGM Mirage to cut prices for CityCenter's 2,400 residential units by 30 percent in order to spur sales.

Read more by clicking the above link

Monday, November 23, 2009

Finding Loose Slot Machines

From the myths and facts about finding a loose slot machine.

Fact or Myth
Over the years there has been much speculation and conjecture amongst slot players as to where the loose slot machines are located. There are many myths that have been circulating associated with the placement these loose slot machines on the casino floor. Here are a few to consider and some reasoning behind the myth.

Click the above link to read more 

The CityCenter of its time.

From the Las Vegas Journal Register:

Twenty years ago, The Mirage was the CityCenter of its time. Built by Steve Wynn's Golden Nugget Corp. for a then unheard of cost of $620 million, The Mirage was the first new resort added to the Strip's skyline in more than 15 years.

But with the city still recovering from the economic doldrums of the early 1980s, many financial experts didn't think The Mirage would succeed. About $565 million of the construction costs were financed with junk bonds. Analysts said The Mirage would need to make more than $1 million a day in revenues just to cover its costs.

Some wondered if The Mirage would really grow the market. Most expected it would just steal customers from neighboring hotel-casinos.

Sound familiar?

Click the above link to read more.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

More about the problems in Las Vegas caused by the recession...luck runs out

The Los Angeles Times chronicles Vegas economy problems

Meanwhile, relentless price-cutting remains the watchword on the Strip. Wynn Resorts recorded revenue in Las Vegas of $291.3 million in the first quarter of this year, only a hair ahead of the $287.2 million in the same period of 2008, despite having doubled its room inventory by opening the 2,034-room Encore in December.

Wynn reported that discounts lowered its average revenue per room to $194 for the first half of this year, from $289 a year earlier -- although its aggressive promotional rates didn't help overall occupancy, which fell to 88% from 96.2%.

Some casino industry experts fear that continued heavy discounting will dim the Vegas aura for the longer term.

"You've got to drop your rates, but you don't want to create a sense that this is a discount experience or that the experience itself has been diminished," says Billy Vassiliadis, chief executive of R&R Partners, the Las Vegas public relations firm that created the renowned "What happens here, stays here" marketing campaign. "It's been a real dilemma."

Another concern is that bargain hunters lured to the Strip by cut-rate rooms may not belong to the market segment that its business model -- a symbiosis of expensive accommodations, gourmet dining and entertainment -- relies on. Rather than dining at a hotel's high-margin Wolfgang Puck restaurant, for example, they may hop across the street for a fast-food meal.

The business model was a losing proposition from day one.  It was wrong for the mega casinos to shift their focus from gambling to catering to a smaller more wealthy customer base combined with business expense account convention attendees.  Extremely short sighted. And frankly Harrah's has cut its maintenance budget so much that their properties are dirty and they lack the staff to adequately serve their guests causing their appeal to guests to greatly diminish.  Not to mention the lack of any new slot machines on the floors. Las Vegas is not the same.

Click this link to read the entire article.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Once a joke among serious gamblers, it is now the hottest form of betting during this recession.

From the USA Today:

"Bigger casinos used to frown on penny slots," says Bob Sobczyk, vice president of casino operations at penny-slot innovator Ameristar, which owns casinos in six states. "A consultant told us it was a joke to put all those penny machines in. Then we showed him our revenue," Sobczyk says.
He says penny slots are a hit because they're video terminals — full of visual glitz and betting variety — that a mechanical slot machine can't match by lining up three cherries.
Read the entire article by clicking the above link.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Compare parking rates for various city airports

From travel on the dollar:

If you are shopping for best rates to park your car and you’re crunched for time, then BestParking has already crunched the numbers for you and can help you find the best rate.

Great information including the ability to use their mobile site to see where you can save money on airport parking by getting a last minute rate check.

Click here for a link to their mobile site.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Hard times hitting Las Vegas

From Time Magazine:

But I'm here because Las Vegas is on sale. The hotels, led by Wynn Resorts boss Steve Wynn, slashed room prices to increase occupancy rates to 82% from a low of 72%. On the right day in July, you could book the type of 750-sq.-ft. room that was $500 a year ago at the Wynn for $109 and get a $50 gift certificate. The high-end restaurants at the MGM have gotten rid of most of their $400 bottles of wine and replaced them with $100 ones. This is either a model for the rest of the country or, if the reset fails, the beginning of a long, long slide.

Las Vegas is the city hit hardest by the recession. Click the above link to read more from Time Magazine's article that details Las Vegas' bet for a come back.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Worst Part of a Trip May Be Booking It on the Web

From the New York Times

A new report, to be released Tuesday by Forrester Research, found that far from embracing the do-it-yourself era, many consumers were fed up with the complicated process of planning and booking travel.

“What we’ve seen is growing frustration,” said Henry H. Harteveldt, a Forrester travel analyst. “Consumers see other Web sites becoming easier to use — retail Web sites, banking Web sites, media Web sites. But travel is treading water as a category. There are very few travel companies that are really looking to improve the planning and booking process.”

Instead, customers are forced to figure out extra fees, wade through fine print and understand industry terms like the difference between a deluxe and a standard room, in addition to educating themselves about destinations, flights and hotels, Mr. Harteveldt said.

“Travel companies expect the consumer to behave like a travel agent,” he explained. “The question I always ask these guys is, ‘Could your mother-in-law use your Web site without having to call you for help?’ The answer is always no.”

In fact, Mr. Harteveldt said a growing number of consumers appeared to be interested in using an offline travel agency, if they could find one.

“The fact that there are more people now who would consider using a good offline travel agent is telling me people are saying, ‘Enough already,’ ” he said.

Enough already!!!!

Click the above link to read the entire story.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Your bad luck is the airlines good fortune

From the Wall Street Journal

"Unforgiving ticket penalties are unique to the airline industry; other industries typically either allow changes or cancellations, or allow buyers to swap or resell tickets they can’t use. Theaters and sports teams sell non-refundable tickets, but buyers can give them to friends or sell them. Hotels, restaurants and other service providers may charge fees for no-shows, but typically give customers time to cancel, imposing penalties only within 24 hours, or perhaps after 4 p.m. on the day of arrival."

Not all airlines rely on cancellation fees. How can that be? Isn't the lure of more fee revenue too irresistible for the airlines to ignore? Aren't fees so important that they have lured more travelers to the airlines?

But wait why is Southwest Airlines the most successful air carrier in operation today?

"Steve Landes, who runs a Florida organization of travelers who commute by air between home and business, says many frequent travelers are switching to Southwest Airlines Co., which allows ticket changes without a penalty. “That $150 charge is a killer, and people avoid it. Airlines may think they are making money on it, but they must be losing money. They are sending their customers away,” Mr. Landes says.

A Southwest spokeswoman says the carrier hasn’t had to rely on penalties to manage overbooking because it takes historical patterns of customer cancellations and changes into account. She says the airlines believes it draws more customers by making it easier to change travel plans if necessary."

Recently we booked four airline tickets from Chicago to Cleveland over the Labor Day weekend. When searching fares four airlines, United, US, American and Southwest all priced their fares within $1.00 of each other. However, when you factored in the checked baggage fees charged by United, American and US it really meant that their fares were actually higher over all than Southwest.

Southwest, who has stubbornly not gone the baggage fee business model side, won our business yet again.

Why is Southwest the most successful air carrier flying today?

Read more from the Wall Street Journal article about airline cancellation fees by clicking the above link.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Web sites don't always have the best deals

From the Chicago Tribune:

Web sites don't always have the best deals. and Expedia are great, but airlines don't necessarily offer all their discounts to the sites directly; instead, they offer net fares and consolidator tickets to large corporate travel agencies to ensure they fill empty seats without devaluing their inventory. So it can pay to talk to a travel agent; they have access to net and consolidator fares that the discount sites do not, especially for international business and first-class seats.

Click the above link for more of the Ten Secrets Airlines Don't Want You To Know.

And yes of course we do have access to net and consolidator fares at Planet Travel. Just call us.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Higher Car Rental Prices From Artificial Shortage

Click above to read more information from the Consumerist:

Car rental firms have cut their fleets by almost 15% in the last year, creating an artificial shortage that has helped to raise prices. Inside, a few tips that can help lower the cost of your next car rental...

We noticed the increase when we rented a car in Las Vegas last month. Traditionally Las Vegas had the most competitive rental car rates in the nation. Not any more. And despite the tip to check out Priceline or Hotwire, we found both sites prices to be the same as renting from any major car rental site. The lesson learned is to shop and shop earlier rather than later.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Las Vegas Downton Hotel Room Rates Under $20.00

Doing a little search on room rates for the week of July 5th we found hotel room rates at several downtown properties for as little as $20.00 a night.

The El Cortez is posting $17 a night rates that week.

Binons $18.00 a night.

The Golden Gate is $20.00.

Even the Golden Nugget, a four star property is getting in the low room rate action with $49.00 a night. That is really a deal.

All rates are available from Orbitz . Click on the package links at our site.

Think flight times are being padded? They are

From the USA Today:

The Earth hasn't expanded significantly. The seismic plates under North America haven't shifted dramatically. And quite a few commercial aircraft are faster than ever. But it's still taking longer to fly on many domestic routes — and flight times are growing longer, not shorter.

Don't believe it? Check out the chart below and see just how much scheduled flight times have been stretched since 1995. For airline executives facing chronic delays on certain routes, the answer has been to pad those flights' "block times" by lengthening the total number of minutes the aircraft is expected to operate, all the way from the gate at Airport A to the gate at Airport B.

As one airline operations manager said to me a few years ago: "The airlines are no more on-time than they used to be, but they're better at covering it up."

Click above link to read the entire article

Thursday, June 18, 2009

When Blogs Fall In an Empty Forrest

Yes we did disappear for a while. We have been traveling a bit and bit busy. Not paying attention to our blog knitting. This New York Times piece did catch our attention. We have not been posting regularly and we are not alone.

According to a 2008 survey by Technorati, which runs a search engine for blogs, only 7.4 million out of the 133 million blogs the company tracks had been updated in the past 120 days. That translates to 95 percent of blogs being essentially abandoned, left to lie fallow on the Web, where they become public remnants of a dream — or at least an ambition — unfulfilled.

We just hit the magic 120 days and promise to do better. Watch this space.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009 I get my free cruise now?

From the Consumerist:

"Meet the "Royal Caribbean Champions," a group of fifty prolific posters to popular online communities that Royal Caribbean rewards with special access and free cruises in exchange for their frequent and positive commentary.... Members of the popular reviewing site Cruise Critic, one of the main targets of the program, are understandably pissed."

Royal Caribbean has a reputation among the travel agency community as being the toughest to do business with. As the Consumerist points out their arrogance knows no bounds. Failing to mention their affiliation with these cruise review "shills" without disclosing their bias, appears to be nothing more than standard operating procedure for this cruise line. Or perhaps a concern that their product is not up to the standards of their competitors. It certainly points in the direction that the very popular travel review sites are certainly not what they appear to be and are no substitute for the professional travel agent.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Air Travel Is Getting Cheaper Because No One Is Flying

From the Consumerist, "Prices are coming down as demand weakens, so if you were thinking of taking a flight — now might be a good time to start shopping for tickets."

Friday, February 13, 2009

Confessions of a casino pit boss

From the February 2008 Budget Travel magazine an anonymous pit boss shares his/her observations including why there are dozens of places to buy chips and so few to redeem them.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Ginger Creek Valor is its own reward cruise update

Just updated our Ginger Creek Valor is its own reward blog to include the latest news release. Just a few weeks left to book this cruise. We still have cabins.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Can you really win playing the slot machines?

Yes and no. We ran across this article in the Kansas City Stars gaming blog from author John Grochowski, that points out that winning at slots is nothing more than an accident. "The combinations you hit are a pure accident of timing. If you played a split second faster, or slower, you'd see different combinations on the reels -- not necessarily winning combinations, but different ones." It doesn't matter if when, if or how you play. It is pure luck. No skill. No system. Just a chance that you found the machine that when you play hits upon the right winning combination. In our gambling guide, free to all Planet Travel clients that book a Las Vegas vacation, we talk about the importance of not being a zombie. Locking up a win on that slot machine and then moving on to the next machine is the winningest strategy for any slot player looking to evening the odds at the casino.

Book your next Las Vegas vacation at our website:

Europe asks where are the American tourists?

From the Chicago Tribune this article discusses the lack of American tourists and its affect on European retailers. The emphasis on the closing of American Express offices does not reflect reality. It is our understanding that the change (increase) in American Express' discount rate it charges retailers and the subsequent reaction of retailers to not take the card had more to do with the closing of the offices than the lack of tourists. The Paris Opera American Express office has been closed for several years. If you are traveling to Europe don't leave home without your Visa card. It is universally accepted. And the wide spread availability of ATM machines for currency exchanges at decent rates sealed American Express' European fate.

Click here to plan your next perfect European trip at our web site

Monday, January 19, 2009

A few words about craps

Sunday night we played craps for a little more than an hour at the St. Charles Ameristar Casino. It was a busy holiday evening. The table was full of players. Chips flying. The dealers were trying their best to keep track of everything. "Same bet." "Hard four." "Place the six and eight." "Press." Just the atmosphere that makes craps so exciting. Quick seven outs. And even a few monster rolls.

Lately I have been playing craps following author Richard Orlyn's distinctive craps betting and money management advice. As I played Sunday, it became very obvious, very quickly, that my fellow players were losing money. Even smart players (those that avoid the center table bets aka "sucker bets") playing basic pass with odds and come bets with odds were losing money. In some cases hundreds of dollars. Let's not even talk about the guy who was betting big six and eight. One of the absolutely worst bets on the craps table. He was betting it though, and good craps table etiquette says don't say anything to anybody even if they are just pissing their money away.

The table was what I considered to be very choppy. That monster roll win can be easily wiped out by the next two quick seven outs after the point is made. It is tough to win when the point is four and your come bet is on the ten and you've got $20.00 in odds to back up each of your bets even if you are playing basic strategy or Orlyn's for that matter.

The good news was that despite the choppy table, I was consistently winning. Not a lot mind you. But I wasn't losing like everybody else. Lot's of cursing at one point. I think I walked away with $14 to the good for the hour I played. And I owe it to following Orlyn's system, for a lack of a better name because he is very adamant that no craps system will actually work. Dice have no memory. Orlyn gives you a reasonable chance of winning at the table. He focuses on making you bet on the numbers that give the highest probability of winning, six and eight. He throws in a few twists and turns. Even some controversial advice about removing your odds bet after your come point wins.

As I said before I have been playing Orlyn's system the last few times I have played craps. Following his system has allowed me to leave the craps table a winner more times than a loser lately. Sunday night I finally became an Orlyn believer. If you are a craps player, or better yet want to be a craps player, I encourage you to read No-Nonsense Craps: The Consummate Guide to Winning at the Crap Table.

For more information please click on the link below:

No-Nonsense Craps: The Consummate Guide to Winning at the Crap Table

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Las Vegas, a Best Bet for Bargain Seekers

What a difference a year makes. From the New York Time's travel section news about the jaw dropping bargains that are the norm in Vegas. Now if we can only do something about the airfare.

Please be sure to check out our sister site l las vegas

Sunday, January 04, 2009

A Free Cruise

We wanted you to be the first to know that free cruise is on the horizon. Details soon. Courtesy of the Ginger Creek Foundation and Planet Travel. For details about the cruise be sure to check our web site by clicking above.