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Chapter 6 Air travel and tours.

Chapter Objectives

After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

* Explain how tour operators negotiate with airlines.

* Discuss what a tour manager must do before a group arrives at an airline terminal.

* Explain a tour member's preboarding activities.

* List a tour conductor's in-flight responsibilities.

* Describe the procedures that face a group and a tour director upon arrival at a destination.


Air travel has vastly expanded the range and scope of touring. It permits tour groups to access virtually any corner of the globe within a day. It reduces the necessity of long bus rides; only a few decades ago it was common for travelers from, say, New England, to take a ten-day Florida tour in which six days were spent on the road getting to and from Florida, leaving only four for the destination itself. Air travel has also altered how tour planners and tour directors do their jobs.

Negotiating with Airlines

As you've seen, tour managers are sometimes asked to negotiate with hotels. This is not the case with airlines. Since contracts for air space are so complex and the sums of money involved so large, it's almost always the planning and/or operations department of a tour company that handles airline choice and negotiations.

Some airlines (also called carriers) are quite supportive of the tour operator-airline alliance. Others, unfortunately, seem to perceive group bookings as an annoyance. Airlines that have their own tour operations are reluctant to cooperate with tour companies who, in effect, are their competitors. Furthermore, the bureaucracy at many mega-carriers makes smooth, swift agreements a near impossibility: they may be supremely slow in quoting or confirming anything to the tour planner, yet they will then set strict deposit and final payment deadlines (typically thirty to sixty days in advance of the flight).

If you're a tour planner, you'll do well to remember the following:

* A few airlines (often those that are new or that are having financial problems) cooperate more enthusiastically with tour operators than others do. Their service level, however, may leave something to be desired.

* The rates airlines quote may be noncommissionable or net (no percentage of the ticket price will come back to you), or they may be commissionable (a percentage of the ticket cost, not including taxes, will be paid back to you. Most airlines have severely "capped" the amount of commission they pay per ticket.)

* Airlines may offer overrides (commissions over and above the typical cap) if your business is especially desired or if you have a sales track record.

* Airlines usually offer one free ticket per fifteen passengers. The first one would be used for the tour leader. A second or third free ticket might be used for a client or for a later trip. (A price may still show on the ticket.) This one-per-fifteen standard, however, is no longer predictable. Some airlines will offset very low rates or overrides by giving no free tickets.

* Assume that some airlines' sales reps will be slow in getting back to you. Keep calling them. Make sure you get a confirmation in writing of all that has been agreed upon. Be aware that once the agreement has been reached, your account will be handed over to a group desk, which is a part of the reservations operation at the airline.

* Never call just one airline for a bid, wait for its response, and then, if unsatisfied, contact a second carrier. Always contact at least three or four airlines on the same day so you can compare several bids at once. You don't want to waste time.

* There's nothing wrong with playing one airline's bid against another's in order to get more favorable treatment, although certain airline reps hate this. The best strategy is to decide which carrier you really want. If that carrier gives you a good bid, go with it. If it doesn't, use the other bids as leverage with the preferred airline.

* If you're setting up air travel to and from a cruise, you may not need to negotiate with the airlines at all. Cruise lines book large blocks of air space with the airlines, often at a discount. They may then resell this air space to your tour company at a price lower than (or pay a commission higher than) what you could negotiate yourself.

Tour Managers and Air Travel

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of any tour manager's trip is its air portion. First, the tour conductor is at the mercy of each airline's procedures. At no point on a tour does a tour conductor feel more powerless than on a plane or at an airport. Second, airport departures and arrivals are often frantic. A tour manager feels as if a staff of ten wouldn't be enough to handle the avalanche of boarding rituals, baggage counts, and passport checks that must take place in an hour or two. Third, the overburdened nature of the air travel system itself often keeps both clients and airline employees tense and cranky. Good planning and efficient strategies, therefore, go far to minimize the stress on a tour director during a tour's air-related activities.


Airline Industry Terminology

It might be useful to review some of the general terms used in the airline industry. Flights may be nonstop, direct, or connecting. A nonstop flight is exactly that: the plane flies to the passenger's final destination with no stops. A direct flight would stop at one or more intermediate airports, but the passenger usually doesn't change planes at the intermediate airport. A connecting flight always requires the passenger to change planes.

The terminal is the building where travelers report for their flights. Larger airports may have many terminals, each serving one or more carriers. The check-in counter is that part of the terminal (usually near where passengers arrive) where individual travelers and groups check luggage, reconfirm seating, have their tickets checked, and receive a boarding pass (a card indicating that a passenger has completed check-in and has a seat assignment).

Most airlines have gone to a "ticketless" electronic (e-ticket) system: no actual hard-copy ticket is issued. Instead, the passenger's flight is tracked by a reservation number and perhaps a confirmation document. The passenger (or tour conductor) presents the number at check-in and the airline representative issues a boarding pass. It's not unlike checking into a hotel. Sometimes a tour company can issue boarding cards in advance. This doesn't mean that the passenger can just walk onto the plane, however. Usually the airline still wants the holder of these pre-issued boarding passes to check in somewhere, either at the check-in counter or gate. A few carriers (usually the low-cost ones) don't even issue boarding passes. They conduct first come, first served seating.

The security gate is that area where carry-on luggage is x-rayed and passengers must pass through metal detectors (a precautionary measure to screen for weapons). The gate area is that portion of the terminal from which all flights depart. Each gate has a podium where airline representatives reconfirm tickets or reservation numbers and handle latecomers and standby passengers. Seat assignments and boarding passes may be given out here, too, to those who by-pass the check-in counter. The up-to-date departure time for a particular flight is posted at its gate; departure and arrival times for all flights are posted throughout the terminal.

Skycaps, also known as porters or baggage handlers, are available to take care of luggage at curbside and again when a client arrives from a flight. Check-in attendants staff the check-in desk and are coordinated by a supervisor. Gate attendants work at the podium at each gate. Flight attendants (once called stewards and stewardesses) are those responsible for looking after passengers once aboard the plane. The pilots, flight engineer, and flight attendants, as a group, are called the flight crew.

In some cases, you may deal with tour flight situations that are extremely simple in nature. For example, a tour may include a one-day trip, via a small aircraft, from Los Angeles to the Grand Canyon and back. Tauck World Discovery offers its Western Canada Tour participants the option of visiting mountaintops via helicopter. In each case, the terminology you'll need to know and the procedures you'll need to follow will be very uncomplicated.

Before Your Clients Arrive

On the first day of a conventional tour, a tour manager must arrive at the airport terminal at least a half hour before the time clients have been asked to report for check-in. For a domestic flight (a flight completely within one country), a tour conductor should be at the airline check-in desk about 2 hours before scheduled departure. For the more complex demands of international itineraries, more time is needed: 2 1/2 to 3 hours in advance is ideal. In some cases, your tour company may assign a helper to assist you in the pre-boarding activities.

You should first ask for the airline's check-in desk supervisor. Among the questions you should ask are:

Does the Supervisor's Copy of the Airline Manifest Identify Members of Your Group? The manifest is the official list of all passengers on a flight. Sometimes an airline prepares a separate manifest of group clients; more often the general manifest flags the names of group participants through a coding procedure. You may wish to check the manifest against your own passenger list or at least determine that the number of seats reserved for your group matches the number of persons (including you) on the tour. If the supervisor has no special group information on the manifest, it might be wise to hand over a copy of your own list of tour members for airline reference purposes.

How Are Your Clients to Be Seated? Airlines follow one of two procedures: they preassign a seat to each of your clients, or they block off seats for the entire group. The latter approach-though rare today--will require you to assign seats to your tour members via boarding passes, which the supervisor or agent in charge will give you.


To make your job easier, ask the supervisor if a blank seating chart specific to the aircraft is available so you can write in the clients' seat assignments in advance. (See Figures 6-1 and 6-2.) If none is handy, draw one of your own, based on the seating configuration of that particular aircraft. (Either verbally or through an up-to-date seating assignment chart, the supervisor can tell you which seats are assigned to the group.) Make sure that your clients' smoking/nonsmoking (only an issue on some international flights) and special meal requests have been noted. (If you have to work out the seating yourself, deal with these special requests first.)


Which Seat Has Been Assigned to You, the Tour Manager? A tour conductor should request an aisle seat to permit easy movement to and from clients. If you've been assigned block seating, simply give yourself an aisle seat. Some tour directors, in order to remain visible to the group, prefer a seat toward the front of the cabin. You'll have much paperwork to do, however, so it might be advisable to avoid sitting next to a tour member. Clients often feel obliged to converse with the tour conductor throughout the flight.

Some tour managers ask supervisors if it might be possible for them to be seated apart from the group, in the business or first-class section. The reasoning here is that since tour conductors must be in tip-top shape upon arrival at the tour's destination, a little peace, quiet, and pampering couldn't hurt. It does make sense. On the other hand, tour members may become annoyed when they find out that their tour leader has abandoned them for the luxuries of first class. The problem, though, may be academic. Increasingly, airlines resist upgrading tour conductors to better seats and assign them to coach class with regular tour passengers.

From Which Gate Will the Flight Leave, and Is the Departure Time Unchanged? Your clients are sure to want this information. Other details you should ask about include: Where is the airport dining area located? How far is it to the gate? Where are the duty-free shops (the stores in international terminals where travelers can buy goods on which import taxes have not been levied)? Are there transport services to the gate for elderly or physically challenged clients? Where are the restrooms? If you have time, you should reconnoiter the airport area well in advance or study an airport layout map, usually found in an industry reference work called the OAG Business Travel Planner. (See Figures 6-3 and 6-4.)

What System Will Be Used to Check In Passengers? Airlines usually deal with groups in one of three ways. The first is to check in each tour client separately in the regular lines open to the general public. (The tour manager may choose to greet clients when they check in or later, aboard the aircraft.) The second is to have a special, separate group counter or check-in position that handles each tour member separately, usually with the tour conductor's assistance. Both of these systems require that each client present his or her reservation number or ticket, passport, visa, and luggage to the agent, who then returns the documents, with a baggage-claim stub and boarding pass, to each individual. These first two systems are almost always required for international flights, since the agent must verify a client-passport-ticket match. They may be used for domestic check-ins, as well.

The third way (on some domestic flights) is for you, the tour director, to gather the group and its luggage together in one spot and inform the agent or supervisor when everybody has arrived. You collect the clients' tickets or reservation documents as the clients show up (assuming you didn't have the tickets or e-ticket reservation numbers in the first place, which is sometimes the case). You then present all of this material together, loading the pieces of luggage one after another onto the reception counter scale. As you do this, the agent will tag the baggage and give you all the stubs together. The agent will then give all the group's tickets, boarding passes, and other documents to you. You'll then redistribute them to your clients so they can board the aircraft.


Depending on the time, you may then wish to tell your clients that they can visit the coffee shop, bar, or stores, as long as they don't forget to arrive at the gate with time to spare. This is especially critical on an international flight, when various checks may delay the walk from terminal to gate.

Among the three check-in systems described above, the second, in which each individual checks in with the agent at a special group counter, is the best. It provides personalized group service yet doesn't require you to assemble a complete group before you can begin. The first system, putting tour members in the regular check-in line, requires much waiting time. The disadvantage of the third system is that it forces the tour manager to deal with the documents en masse, including baggage stubs that haven't been cross-referenced to individual passengers. If luggage is lost later, you must go through a lengthy process of elimination to find the claim check for the missing piece. To avoid this dilemma, ask the agent to come out from behind the counter and help you ticket the suitcases. On the back of each claim stub, write the corresponding client name or number for future reference. On an international flight, you may want to insist that they check in each of your tour members one at a time.

One other hint: when a ticket has actually been issued, each individual flight in the client's tour itinerary is represented by a separate piece of paper or card called a coupon (see Figure 6-5). These coupons are gathered in one ticket folder or packet, which in turn is placed in an envelope-like jacket. When the passenger checks in, the agent pulls from the packet the coupon that matches the upcoming flight. However, coupons sometimes stick together, and an agent may pull several coupons at once, leaving the passenger with no coupon for the next flight. The tour leader or client should check each ticket before leaving the check-in counter to ensure that this costly mistake has not occurred. This potential problem may soon be eliminated, as airlines move toward ticketless bookings.


A few final comments are in order. Though three general check-in systems exist, all sorts of hybrids and variations are possible. You can occasionally talk a supervisor into following your favorite procedure. More often, though, the airline will tell you what it wants. What it usually wants is to handle the group in one check-in, with all documents handed over together by the tour manager, since this system makes most efficient use of airline counter personnel.

As Your Clients Arrive

You'll be able to identify your tour members by your company's luggage tags or name tags. (Now you know why these items are often so brightly colored.) Your clients will also be looking for you. (Now you know why a majority of tour operators insist on uniforms, or at least name tags, for their tour leaders.)

Be sure to greet your clients warmly--remember, the first impression is critical. Then you must immediately find out if your clients have their tickets (if your company mailed them out in advance, rather than giving them all to you for distribution) and if they have their passports, visas (for international trips), or other necessary identification. If any client has forgotten to bring the necessary items, you'll have to decide quickly whether there's time for the client to rush home, telephone home and ask someone to bring the documents, or find a notary public at the airport to validate the client's place of birth. (Before you look for a notary public, however, ask the airline personnel if the destination country will accept a notarized statement.) If these options aren't available, the passenger may have to miss the trip or catch up later. The later flight should be arranged through both the airline and the tour company. Heightened airport security requires passengers to have photo identification to ensure that the traveler's name matches that on the ticket. Indeed, a question-laden screening process will take place before passengers can check in luggage and embark on their journey.


After checking in passengers and luggage (and making sure carry-on pieces satisfy regulations), inform your clients of the boarding time and gate number. A few airlines have a separate group lounge where your clients can wait. If not, they'll probably be on their own until boarding, so show them the direction to the gate. Pass out whatever materials should be distributed--for instance, flight bags, updated itineraries, tickets, or boarding passes needed to get on the plane. Answer questions about airport facilities. Reiterate the importance of starting out for the gate early. Warn them to keep a careful eye on their carry-on bags and tickets. Although you'll probably be at the gate, tell them to board at the gate when ready, not to wait for you.

Now rest. You'll need to gather your energies after so much hectic activity. If you have the time, spend a few moments in the coffee shop or get an okay from the supervisor to wait in the airline's executive lounge. Then head out to the gate, ask the gate attendant if he or she can preboard your group (usually they won't, but it doesn't hurt to ask), make small talk with your passengers in the waiting area, and board the aircraft at the "last call."

Suppose after checking off luggage in the terminal area, you find that someone on the tour is still missing. Perhaps your clients checked their luggage with a skycap at curbside, contrary to the instructions mailed in advance to them, then went straight to the gate. This is why many companies give all the tickets for the first flight to the tour manager--it prevents clients from checking in on their own. Ask the gate agent to see if your missing clients checked in. If they're genuine no-shows, call your company to advise them of that fact. (For a visual summary of preboarding activities, see Figure 6-6.)

Aboard the Aircraft

As mentioned in Chapter 4, once you step aboard an aircraft, the flight crew is in charge. It's useful to introduce yourself to the head flight attendant and those attendants serving your cabin. You might even ask the lead attendant to announce a special welcome to your group over the P.A. system--write it out in advance on an index card. No matter how many times you've heard it, pay attention to the attendant's safety explanation. You'll set an example for the group, and the information will prove useful in the unlikely event of an emergency. Circulate among your clients only if the aisles are free. This is a good time to discuss what procedures await them when they arrive at their first destination. Otherwise, sit back and take care of whatever paperwork needs to be done.


Your on-board tasks may include collecting airline tickets from your clients. Since travelers occasionally lose their tickets, some tour companies require tour directors to hold all group passenger tickets between all flights, not just for the first one. This is an enormous responsibility. You should scrupulously guard the tickets and place them in the hotel safe immediately upon arrival.

An efficient way to handle this process is to circulate in the plane with an envelope for tickets (take them out of their ticket jackets). Cross-check the tickets against a passenger list to make sure all are accounted for. The tour director returns the tickets to the clients just before the next air portion of their journey. Be sure to get a receipt for bundled tickets handed over to airline personnel for checking purposes. The receipt should indicate the number of tickets.

What if a client loses a ticket? Sometimes the airline will issue a duplicate ticket at no cost (perhaps taking a credit card imprint) and make a financial issue of it only if the original ticket is used at a later date. More typically, the airline will charge the client for a replacement ticket and give him or her a Lost Ticket Refund application to complete. If the original ticket is never used, the airline will refund the cost of the lost ticket several months later.

A client may inform you or the tour company that he or she has special dietary requirements--kosher, Hindu, Moslem, vegetarian, diabetic, low sodium, or low cholesterol. The company should have told the airline of this at least twenty-four hours in advance of flight. If it failed to do so, contact the airline for your client so that on the next flight the client can have the meal he or she requested.
Some airports are models of efficiency;
they make a tour manager's job easy. Others
are quite the opposite. Conde Nast Traveler
magazine rates the following airports as the
best worldwide:

1. Singapore
2. Amsterdam
3. Pittsburgh
4. Zurich
5. Orlando
6. Hong Kong
7. Tampa
8. Reykjavik
9. Vancouver
10. Sydney

On the other hand, in an Excedrin poll,
the following were once rated as the most
"headache-provoking" airports in North

1. Chicago O'Hare
2. Atlanta Hartsfield
3. New York Kennedy
4. Los Angeles International
5. New York LaGuardia
6. Dallas/Fort Worth
7. Denver Stapleton (now closed)
8. San Francisco International
9. Washington National
10. Miami International

Arrival at Your Destination

Before arriving, you should have a sense of the airport's layout. An OAG Business Travel Planner map will be helpful, as well as the maps sometimes found in the back pages of the airline's in-flight magazine.

If you're on an international flight, you and your group will have to deal with immigration and customs. Travelers often confuse the two. Basically, immigration deals with people, and customs with things. More specifically, immigration is the process by which a government official verifies a person's passport, visa, or birth certificate. Since the airline check-in person examined these documents before departure, there shouldn't be a problem for your tour participants. Most countries move travelers through this process quite quickly.

Once through immigration, it's time to deal with the luggage. This can be an awkward process. If you're arriving in a country that permits a representative of the ground operator to enter the baggage claim area, that person, perhaps with the help of porters, will help you and your clients locate the tour's luggage and will place it on large carts. Once again, you should check off luggage or at least take a count.

The carts will then be moved through customs. Customs is the procedure by which government agents inspect goods and baggage entering a country to check for illegal items and to assess whether a duty, or tax, is due on anything. If a ground operator is allowed in the claims area, a group will probably clear customs en masse, with only a spot inspection.

If reception personnel aren't allowed into the baggage area, you, as the tour manager, will have to choreograph the whole thing. Try to find small carts for each client or traveling couple. Passengers will then claim their luggage from the carousel (the circular baggage claim device) in the same way they would if they were individual travelers. Then they'll pass through customs one at a time. Tell them to wait for you on the other side. You should be the last person through, in case a suitcase has been lost.

If a suitcase is missing, you'll need to help the client fill out the lost-baggage form at a luggage claims counter in the baggage claim area. Make sure to ask the airline representative if your client is eligible for a cash allowance and/or overnight supplies kit. Before you get to the other side of customs yourself, the ground operator probably will have already identified your tour members. The immigration/customs procedure may be easier than you think--some countries operate on an "honor" system where people with nothing to declare can pass through customs unchecked.

Things will now start calming down. A driver and a representative from the ground operator (sometimes the same person) will help you shepherd the group to the waiting transfer bus and load luggage onto the coach. Discrepancies sometimes exist between what your tour company expects and what the reception tour operator has planned; therefore, you should briefly review the itinerary for the next few days with the ground operator. Before leaving for the hotel, take a head count to make sure everyone is on board. Once under way, use the motorcoach P.A. system to explain upcoming activities to your group participants. (For a visual summary of deplaning activities, see Figure 6-7.)

Midtour Flights

Often a tour has multiple destinations, each with a different flight. For example, a tour could leave from Washington, D.C., for London, stay three days in London, then fly from London to Paris, stay four days there, and then fly back to Washington, D.C. The group would have to make three airport departures: one from Washington, D.C., one from London, and one from Paris. Departure procedures at foreign airports will generally be the same as those previously described, with three significant exceptions. Upon leaving one country for the next, clients may have to pay a departure tax; they may be obliged to deal with a special security check or with customs; and, where applicable, they may be able to obtain refunds of taxes on goods bought.

In the Washington, D.C.-London-Paris tour described above, the formalities would be minimal. Tour members would probably declare what they had acquired in England and in France before reentering the United States; clients might also obtain refunds of taxes on items bought as they left each country. Unlike England or France, some host countries (for example, China) take extra steps to determine whether you're taking out something you shouldn't or (in Israel, for instance) whether you're a threat to the plane you're boarding.



What happens when your group lands in a country solely to continue on to a final destination? Let's say your group is going from Vancouver to Bangkok, Thailand, but your plane lands in Tokyo along the way. If the same plane continues on to Bangkok, you probably won't have to deal with Japanese immigration and customs. You'll be kept on the jet or in a secured waiting lounge. If you change to another plane on the same airline, you'll probably still avoid the hassles of immigration and customs, since the entire international terminal gate area of an airline is a sort of "free" secured zone (sometimes called the "sterile zone") where international passengers can transit from one gate to another. If you must change to an airline in a different terminal, though, you may have to go through immigration, baggage pickup, and customs inspection before boarding the next flight.

Another example of a mid-tour flight is a "flight-see." Passengers board a small aircraft or helicopter for a short trip to a scenic wonder. Two examples are an air journey over the Grand Canyon or a helicopter excursion over an erupting volcano in Hawaii.

Returning Home

Travel is a wonderful yet arduous experience. Returning from a successful tour is both a sad and a comforting experience. On international journeys, though, it's made complicated by customs. (Immigration will also enter the picture.) Be sure to inform your clients before the tour's end about requirements for reentering the country. Warn them, too, not to joke with customs officers. The customs formalities upon return can be the most serious that your tour members will face over the course of their trip.


One final point: although group flight-related activities sound terribly complex, they tend to sort themselves out, no matter how many small things go wrong or are forgotten. If you've ever been on an international trip, you've probably moved through the complexities described above without giving them a second thought. Air and government personnel are used to dealing with unimaginably complex transit problems. View them as an important source of support in carrying out your escort duties and ensuring your tour's success. (For the tour manager's air-related checklist, see Figure 6-8.)


Negotiations and bookings with airlines are a complex process, usually carried out by a tour planner. The air travel portion of a tour is the most challenging. Airport activity is usually hectic, the air transportation system is overburdened, and the tour director has little control over what goes on in an airport or on an airplane. Reconnoitering an airport's facilities well before the clients arrive is a good way for a tour manager to prepare. An escort should be thoroughly familiar with preboarding procedures. Aboard the aircraft, the tour conductor's responsibilities are minimal. On arrival, the tour director should facilitate the passage of a group through immigration, baggage claim, customs, and the airport-hotel transfer.
Figure 6-8
Sample air tour checklist


Before your clients arrive, have you:

[] Checked with the supervisor about check-in procedures?
[] Checked with the supervisor about client seat assignments?
[] Confirmed all special seating and meal requests?
[] Made sure you, the escort, have a seat?
[] Determined from which gate your flight will leave?
[] Figured out where restaurants, restrooms, and shops are?

As your clients arrive, have you:

[] Asked clients if they brought passports, visas, etc.?
[] Asked clients if they have airline tickets (or distributed them)?
[] Checked off their luggage for future tracking purposes?
[] Passed out necessary documents?
[] Informed them of the departure time and gate?
[] Warned them to protect their valuables?
[] Made sure everyone has arrived?

Aboard the aircraft, have you:

[] Introduced yourself to the flight crew?
[] Collected airline tickets from clients (if company policy)?
[] Organized baggage-claim stubs?

Upon arrival at your destination, have you:

[] Sought out the ground operator?
[] Helped organize clients' luggage claims?
[] Found a porter to help you?
[] Made sure all luggage has arrived?
[] Taken a baggage count before loading the transfer coach?
[] Taken a head count before leaving on the transfer coach?


1. List at least five things you must keep in mind when negotiating for group air space.

2. Give three reasons why dealing with air travel can be a challenging experience for a tour conductor.

3. What are the two approaches airline personnel take toward group seating in an aircraft cabin?

4. Explain the three ways airline personnel might check in groups.

5. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of a tour manager's sitting in business or first class, apart from the group.

6. Which two questions must a tour director ask of each arriving passenger?

7. Describe an efficient way of handling a tour group's airline tickets and baggage-claim stubs once you and the group are on the plane.

8. What happens if a client forgets or loses an airline ticket?

9. What is the difference between immigration and customs?

10. In what three ways do midtour flight check-ins at foreign airports differ from the first check-in at the beginning of the tour?


* On the following drawing of the departure area of a small domestic airline terminal, label the following: check-in counter, security check, restrooms, dining facility, and gate departure area.


* On the following drawing of a typical arrival area of an international airport, label the following: arrival gate, immigration, customs, baggage claim, and reception area.



Creating an efficient and cost-effective air itinerary is a subtle skill. The ideal itinerary (1) uses only one airline for the entire trip; (2) uses only nonstop flights or direct ones (in which the aircraft stops at an intermediary city, but continues on to your group's final destination); (3) avoids huge airports that get heavily congested; (4) avoids airports at certain seasons where snow or thunderstorms can disrupt air travel.

It's often impossible to satisfy all these considerations, and unpredictable events can always occur. This activity, however, challenges you to at least try to fashion a hassle-free tour itinerary. Using any research resources at your disposal (including the Internet), work out an itinerary, starting and ending in your home city, that is efficient and based on actual current airline routings.

1. A "Mayan Adventure" tour for archaeology buffs, with arrival and departure from Cancun, Mexico.

a. Airline(s) and flight(s) to get there:

b. Airline(s) and flight(s) to get home:

2. A "Fall Foliage" tour that begins in one New England air gateway and ends in another, with motorcoach travel in between. (If you live in New England, design a tour of the Pacific Northwest.)

a. Arrival airport/city for destination:

b. Airline(s) and flight(s) to get there:

c. Departure airport/city to get home:

d. Airline(s) and flight(s) to get home:

3. A "Classic Europe" tour in which the group visits three capital cities, flying between each:

a. Arrival airport/city and flight(s) to get there:

b. Second airport/city and flight(s) to get there:

c. Third airport/city and flight(s) to get there:

d. Departure flight(s) to get home:


* You've arrived at the airport ahead of your group. The airline desk supervisor tells you that the airline has blocked off group seating for your group, but hasn't assigned specific seats to your individual clients. You'll have to do that yourself. The supervisor has neither a manifest nor a blank aircraft seating chart at her disposal. She does give you an up-to-date seat assignment chart for your flight, which will go from Lima, Peru, to Miami.

Examine the following two documents. The first is your passenger list (18 PAX). The second is the aircraft seat assignment chart that the supervisor has given to you (seats reserved for your tour are labeled T). Work out the seating solutions on a separate piece of paper. Then indicate on the next page which clients you have assigned to which seats. Note that you can request open seats (O) to offset any logistical problems you may encounter or to correct any oversights or mistakes the airline may have made. Good luck!

Tour Passenger List

101. Mr. Ted Striker and Mrs. Elaine Striker

102. Harve and Irma Blakely

103. J. Kerouac (requests smoking and aisle seat)

104. Dr. and Mrs. Pangloss (Mrs. Pangloss requests window seat)

105. M. Polo

106. Rose Sayer and Charles Allnut (request smoking)

107. Mr. L. Gulliver (requests aisle seat)

108. Mr. and Mrs. D. O. Guerrero

109. Clark and Ellen Griswold

Audrey Griswold

Rusty Griswold

110. S. Bertrille (requests seat next to exit)

Marc Mancini, Ph.D.


Department of Travel

West Los Angeles College
Airline Seat Assignment Chart

TransAmerica Flight #209
Code: T = tour; R = reserved; S = smoking; O = open

Row   Seats

        A     B    C    D    E    F    G    H

22      R     O    R    R    R    R    T    T

23      R     R    R    R    T    T    T    T (exit)

24      O     O    T    T    T    T    R    R

25      R     R    R    R    T    T    T    T

26      R     R    R    R    R    O    R    R

27      O     O    O    O    O    O    O    O

28      SR    SR   SR   ST   ST   ST   SR   SR

Assignments you have made (to be transferred to boarding passes):

22 G   22 F
22 H   25 E
23 E   25 F
23 F   25 G
23 G   25 H
23 H   28 D
24 C   28 E
24 D   28 F
24 E   Other:

Do you have any changes to request of the supervisor?
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Article Details
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Author:Mancini, Marc
Publication:Conducting Tours, A Practical Guide, 3rd ed.
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2001
Previous Article:Chapter 5 Working with hotels.
Next Article:Chapter 7 Suppliers and attractions.

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