September 01, 2003
Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio September 2003 Current Issue
September 2003 On TravelPLANNER'S PORTFOLIO:

On Travel

By Lisa Grimaldi


Access America’s policies include pregnancy& More meal cuts at Continental

Innovative coverage. Access America, a Richmond, Va.-based travel insurance firm, has expanded its basic cancellation policies to include “family friendly” circumstances such as pregnancy and the use of health aides.

Under the new terms, moms- and dads-to-be could cancel a trip after learning of the pregnancy, as long as they purchased the policy before the pregnancy was discovered. “So, if a pregnant mom decides she’s no longer interested in taking that Amazon River rafting trip, our product offers the protection and peace of mind she needs,” said Beth Godlin, senior vice president of marketing for Access America.

The new parameters include grandparents and other immediate family members who want the option to cancel a trip to stay home to witness the birth of a child, with the stipulation that they purchase their policy before learning of the pregnancy and the due date. In addition, Access America has redefined its definition of family to include a domestic partner (any person with whom the policyholder has lived for 12 months prior to the effective date of coverage) and a live-in caregiver, such as a nanny or health aide. The firm’s policies also have been updated to include possible airport shutdowns mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration. These enhancements apply only to leisure travel policies, although Access America does offer several types of travel insurance for groups and business travel.

The cost of the policies, typically 5 to 7 percent of the total cost of the trip and available through travel agencies, include the new enhancements, according to Godlin.

Asked why the company has revised its policies, Godlin said, “We take a look at our coverage every year, and this comes in response to the changing needs that we see in the marketplace.”

Pack those rice cakes. Effective this month, Continental Airlines will stop serving special meals (i.e., salt-free, Kosher, etc.) in all classes of service on flights to Canada and Latin America/Caribbean beach markets, including popular destinations such as Cancun. The meals also will be discontinued on most domestic and all Continental Express flights.

When they will be served: on transcontinental domestic flights (coast-to-coast); transatlantic and transpacific routes; and flights to South America and Latin America/Caribbean business destinations such as Guadalajara, Mexico.

Pick a kiosk, any kiosk. Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport is installing SpeedCheck self-serve kiosks that allow passengers for eight carriers (AirTran, America West, Continental, Delta, Northwest, Southwest, United and US Airways) to check in and print their boarding passes, all on one system.

The first phase of the project will see 38 SpeedCheck kiosks put into service in strategic areas of the airport, such as the entry area from the parking garage, in the center of the ticketing lobby and at various places on the way to security checkpoints. McCarran also will install four universal kiosks at the Las Vegas Convention Center to assist attendees in checking in and obtaining boarding passes before proceeding to the airport.

Though SpeedCheck will initially target only passengers traveling with carry-on items and no checked luggage, plans are under way for a second phase, which will place kiosks at airline ticket counters, enabling baggage-tag printing for checked luggage.

Headset update. US Airways now allows coach-class passengers to bring their personal headsets on board to access the aircraft’s entertainment systems, similar to what Continental allows. For those who forget to pack one or who simply do not own a set, they are available during the flight for US$5. Passengers will get to keep the headsets for use on future trips.

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