To all my followers (all three of you), I apologize for not posting a lot lately. I am working with the airlines to get a list of military benefits, but the airlines are so slow to respond. They obviously do not realize who I am!

In the meantime, I thought I would solicit whatever questions you may have in connection with military-related travel or frankly, anything else you want my opinion on. So fire away…

Posted by glenn | 11 Comments

11 responses to “Ask the Colonel”

  1. Major Andy says:

    Sir,

    I’ve got a question about hotels. I’ve been staying at Hiltons for the most part during my military travel, but am more interested in Starwood Hotels. I have the AMEX Starwood card, and based on the new elite benefits they’ve announced recently, I would prefer to stay at their properties.

    Being restricted to hotels with military rates during official travel, what means do you utilize to locate the best properties for your trips? I’ve used the hotel locator on DTS, but have found that it can be tempermental and doesn’t always show every hotel offering military rates.

    Thanks for any insight and safe travels,

    Major Andy

  2. Mike says:

    What’s the best way to convince my organization to issue my tickets in dts earlier than the standard three day window in order to get my upgrades 5 days out?

    Thanks!

  3. ari says:

    JFTR lodging non-availability “one night rule”…invoke it even if military lodging is available?

    The last time I flew through Hickam (a few years back), I read an MFR from the base CC to the effect that any aircrew refusing on-base accommodation under this clause would be summoned to explain themselves directly to him. Naturally, I conceded defeat out of intimidation and fear.

    Who reigns supreme, the JFTR or the commander of a non-homestation base?

  4. Digitaldruck says:

    It’s laborious to find knowledgeable folks on this topic, however you sound like you already know what you’re talking about! Thanks

  5. Aarash Fakhori says:

    The Wife and I will be PCS’ing to Tripler in June and we’ll be getting a YCA ticket from PHX->HNL. She will be 6 months pregnant and I’d like to get her to a better seat. Any tips on upgrading a YCA ticket?

  6. glenn says:

    OK, let’s tackle these one at a time:

    @Major Andy – Unlike airlines and thie contracte GSA rates, you can stay at any hotel as long as it is under the Per Diem ammount. In the accounting line of your orders, they will always put the full Per Diem for that location, so really there is no excuse for making you stay at a Motel 6 when you could stay better than that. DTS is tricky on drawing a radius around the location you input. For example, if I am staying in Seoul and put down “seoul” for the destination, it will not show me all the hotels that I want. However, if I put down “ICN” and look at the listings 40km away, I usually can find the Marriott (my preferred brand). There is no set rule to how DTS searches so try a few reference points such as city, airport, suburb, etc. and often your choice should appear. They do not make this easy! And always do a search on the hotel’s site to ensure they have a rate under the per diem first so you don’t waste your time hunting for something that isn’t there.

  7. glenn says:

    @Mike – Yes, this is always a problem. Here is my solution. They avoid ticketing your flight until the last minute because they are afraid you will have a last minute change and to be fair this does happen a lot in the military. I will call Carlson and tell the agent to please go ahead and ticket the itin due to one of several reasons:

    1. I will be on leave immediately prior to the trip and want to make sure everything is OK before I take off.
    2. My spouse is traveling with me at my expense and I need to have the flight ticketed so we can sit together. (gals like to hear this one!)
    3. I have an upgrade instrument (say coupon)for this airline and I really want to use it because I am 6’4″ and really need the extra room, but the airline says that I can only do that if the flight is already ticketed. I find agents are OK with this one, but not if you say you are hoping for UDU/ EUA, battlefield upgrade,etc.

    Don’t try it everytime and mix up your excuses because if you travel a lot, the agents will actually get to know you. Use your best judgement here, but the above has worked for me.

  8. glenn says:

    @ari – I have always been hassled on my travel voucher if I cannot provide a Statement of Non-Availability from the local billeting office. And trying to get one after the fact is a real pain. You obviously made the right call in following the Base CC edict otherwise you could have been out that reimbursement.
    On the other hand, that commander will never see your TV. Ultimately, it is up to your chain of command and what they will approve. There may be some special rules for air crews, but I am not familiar with those. IMHO, I wouldn’t take a risk for a one night stay.

  9. glenn says:

    @Aarash – Can you tell me what airline you are flying? You have a really good chance on any airline since more and more they are upgrading their high paying passengers first, but give me more to work on and I may be able to help you more.
    If you don’t know which airline, you or your wife, can go to http://apps.fss.gsa.gov/citypairs/search/ and that will tell you the contracted airline between those two cities. For PHX-HNL it is (not surprisingly) USAIR.
    I wish the answer was UA or CO and I would give your poor wife one of my domestic upgrades.
    If you do end up on USAIR, the upgrade to HNL will cost you 17,500 miles per person if you have them. Let me know when you get more details and welcome to Hawaii!

  10. Aarash says:

    Thanks for the help Glenn! We get our orders in about a month, but I called Carlson-Wagonlit and they said there are spots on both US and UA (But the UA flight is a codeshare flying on US metal). Unfortunately, I dont have any US miles, but would GLADLY do any thing I can to get enough to get her upgraded. Because we have to get our car to a port, there is a slight possibility that we can fly out of LAX and fly a UA flight from there. I’l have to call transportation when we get our orders. What are your thoughts?

    BTW, it’s very kind of you to offer your SWU 🙂

  11. glenn says:

    @Aarash – Flying out of LAX would obviously give you a lot more choices than PHX. The GSA City Pair for LAX-PHX is UA and there are multiple flights per day. See what you can do and let me know. Believe me, I have been in your shoes, and am here to help.

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