Changes in the Travel Business World

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» Posted by on Aug 9, 2011 in History and Overview | 0 comments

The travel business is constantly changing which makes my job interesting and challenging.  When I first started working for my agency, the travel software was a simple program with limited capability.  The software we are currently using is much more complex with features enabling the traveler to access airline, hotel, and car rental reservations all within one program.  Specializing in one particular area is very helpful and having a team of people to work from every aspect makes a travel team complete.  As an analyst in the Accounting area of our office for five years, I acquired knowledge of the E Gov Travel system.  Even though the main objective was to reimburse the traveler in a timely manner, many factors entered into the equation.   A lot of background work is constantly in progress to ensure that travelers are reimbursed properly.  When the opportunity arose for me to explore another area of travel, I decided to move to the policy and compliance section.  This experience enabled me to see things from another view.  I wasn’t involved in the software or accounting system as much but was more involved in the post-payment process, scheduling, and reporting.  For the past couple of months, I have been working in the customer service section of the office which presents some new challenges.  This is where travel changes are the most visible because we must keep travelers informed of any changes or issues as they occur.  These situations range from system or policy updates to weather issues.  One of the changes we encountered this year was the ‘secure flight’ initiative set forth by the Transportation Security Administration.  When this initiative was first proposed, it was quite confusing for travelers.  Many questions arose in regards to the type of information that was required from the traveler in order to comply with this change.  In May of 2009, a document was distributed by TSA to answer traveler’s questions and to provide knowledge of the background of the initiative and its intent as well as the information that was required by travelers to comply.  The program timeline below was part of their presentation:

    • October 28, 2008: The Secure Flight Final Rule was published in the Federal Register, and went into effect on December 29, 2008
    • January 2009: Secure Flight began implementation with volunteer airlines
    • May 15, 2009: Domestic airlines are required to request and provide full name
    • August 15, 2009: Domestic airlines are required to request all Secure Flight Passenger Data
    • October 31, 2009: All airlines are required to request and provide full Secure Flight Passenger Data
    • Deployments for domestic airlines will occur through March 2010
    • Deployments for foreign airlines will begin at the end of 2009 and continue through 2010

Benefits of the Secure Flight initiative:

    • Enhances the security of commercial air travel
    • Raises the baseline standard in terms of the technology and automation used in watch list matching
    • Decreases the chance for compromised watch list data by limiting distribution
    • Expedites law enforcement notification by gaining earlier insight to potential matches
    • Provides fair, equitable, and consistent watch list matching across all airlines
    • Facilitates an expedited and integrated redress process for misidentification passengers
    • Supports the travel industry’s operational needs

The form of ID seemed to be one of the most confusing issues with this change.  In answer to that, TSA released the following outline to inform travelers of which forms of ID were acceptable documents.

  1. US federal or state government-issued photo ID
    1. Must contain a name, date of birth, gender, expiration date and some tamper-resistant feature
    2. State IDs must meet REAL ID benchmarks; Federal IDs meet equivalent standards
    3. Examples: US passport, US passport card, “Trusted Traveler” cards

i.    (such as NEXUS, SENTRI or FAST), US military ID, Border Crossing Card,

ii.    DHS-designated enhanced driver’s license, and any state-issued driver’s

iii.    License that has received a REAL ID extension

  1. U.S. and Foreign Government-issued passports
  2. Native American Tribal Photo ID
  3. Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) Card

After the E Gov travel system software was updated in order for the correct information to be entered in travelers’ profiles and traveler’s felt comfortable with the transition, all seemed to go smoothly.

Change will always be part of the travel industry and with each change there will be challenges for us to face but it’s an exciting business in which to belong.

By Cynthia Moore, CGTP

The contents of this message are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the Government or my agency.

 

 

 

 

 

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