HIGHLIGHTS OF AMERICAN AIRLINES TESTIMONY On Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act of 2009

“In the past decade, we see a stronger workforce in every sense.  We are instilling a more enduring sense of loyalty and commitment, and helping to motivate our LGBT employees to be all they can be and to bring their whole identity to work.  We never saw this as a special case or privilege, but simply doing the right thing in a business setting that underscores fairness, equity and inclusion.”

— Carolyn E. Wright, American Airlines

WHO: Carolyn E. Wright, Vice President, Corporate Human Resources, American Airlines, Fort Worth , Texas

WHAT: Legislative Hearing held by the House Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, Postal Service, and the District of Columbia of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

Key witnesses include Representative Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry, former Ambassador Michael Guest, and others.

WHY:  A majority of Fortune 500 corporations today extend employment benefits equally to same-sex partners that are available to married couples.  American Airlines  was invited to testify at today’s hearing because of its private sector expertise on diversity, inclusion and benefits policies that include LGBT households.

[The complete testimony is available at www.witeckcombs.com/aarainbow/testimony-07-08-09.pdf]

Highlights of American Airlines testimony:

“American recognizes that being a global airline means we are in the business of connecting people and cultures from around the world.  Our company will only be successful if the experience we deliver, and the environment we create, is safe, welcoming and respectful of everyone.  American also recognizes the relationships among its customers, employees, business partners and suppliers, and the communities that we serve.  We must embrace the diversity that exists within each of our key constituencies, and operate in an inclusive manner, for all of these groups to thrive.

“As a company that bears the name “American,” we also know that much is expected of us, and we hold ourselves to a high standard.  From hiring the industry’s first African-American flight attendant in 1963, to the first female pilot in 1973, to the creation of our supplier diversity program in the 1980s and our multicultural sales teams in the 1990s, American has a long history of leadership.  We also know that promoting diversity is a journey, and American is committed to making further progress as we weave it into the very fabric of our company.

“Philosophically, we have always tried to recognize employees as individuals with their own families’ needs, talents and ambitions.  All deserve equal respect and acceptance for the true worth and unique experiences and skills they bring to their jobs.  We determined that treating employees in committed relationships with same-sex partners as a family, rather than as single people, was consistent with that philosophy.  So, in 2000, we became the first major airline to offer benefits to the same-sex partners of our employees as we had long done for married spouses.

“What are the upsides?  In the past decade, we see a stronger workforce in every sense.  We are instilling a more enduring sense of loyalty and commitment, and helping to motivate our LGBT employees to be all they can be and to bring their whole identity to work.  We never saw this as a special case or privilege, but simply doing the right thing in a business setting that underscores fairness, equity and inclusion.

“In our diverse segment marketing strategies, we now can tell a more complete story to all customers about our welcome that is authentic and meaningful.  There is no question that it helps us to be a much stronger contender as a world-class marketing organization during this very difficult economy.  We know all of our customers consider service, value, convenience and comfort.  However, in a very competitive market, we have learned that many appreciate inclusion and equal respect, too.

“… we can report that America ’s top corporations are showing the way on best practices.  According to research from the Human Rights Campaign, roughly 80% of the Fortune 100 now offers equal, same-sex partner benefits, and the same can be said of 57% of the Fortune 500.

About American Airlines

American Airlines, American Eagle and AmericanConnection® serve 250 cities in 40 countries with, on average, more than 3,400 daily flights. The combined network fleet numbers more than 900 aircraft. American’s award-winning Web site, AA.com®, provides users with easy access to check and book fares, plus personalized news, information and travel offers. American Airlines is a founding member of the Oneworld® Alliance, which brings together some of the best and biggest names in the airline business, enabling them to offer their customers more services and benefits than any airline can provide on its own. Together, its members serve nearly 700 destinations in more than 130 countries and territories. American Airlines, Inc. and American Eagle Airlines, Inc. are subsidiaries of AMR Corporation. AmericanAirlines, American Eagle, AmericanConnection, AA.com, We know why you fly and AAdvantage are registered trademarks of American Airlines, Inc. (NYSE: AMR)

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Today’s Travel Mantra: Using Dollars Wisely And Top Reasons To Use A Travel Agent

“Good going.” Two words that acknowledge significant achievement as well as tasks well done. For those of us in the travel industry where daily pursuits are aimed at getting you and others from “Point A” to “Point B,” the words have yet another connotation — one especially meaningful in light of today’s global economy. As you budget for well-deserved vacation time or business reasons in 2009, it becomes more imperative than ever that those who are your travel counselors find every possible way to help shave costs…ways that reflect “good going” and exceptional value Though global economic conditions may not have impacted on the travel intentions of Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte (a Quebec billionaire who could spend an estimated $35-million to rocket into space aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft in September), there’s the rest of us. My challenge at R.W.T. which I accept gladly, is to make absolutely certain that whatever your travel intentions, in trips long and short, the returns not only leave you with a sense of gratification but a back-at-home realization that they were dollars well spent with expenditures that mirror great savings. I’ve been providing that service for over 25 years. Give me a call, and also check out my links and previous posts of cruise specials.  And don’t forget about my online booking tool for Travel Impressions.

Top Reasons For Using A Travel Agent

1. You’ve Googled “Mexico vacation“, and come up with 17.8 million responses. Need a little help editing those choices?

2. Remember when you used that obscure website to book your hotel, and when you got there you spent your beach vacation overlooking a parking lot?

3. How many hours were you on hold with the airline when your flight was canceled because of a snowstorm?

4. Did you really mean to spend your honeymoon at that resort whose one tiny pool was filled all day with 12 screaming children?

5. Who knew that when you booked that “villa” in Tuscany, it would be a small room with a kitchenette and no air conditioning? Funny, it looked much better on your computer screen.

6. No one explained to you that in July, it’s winter time in Rio, and so you showed up there with nothing but five Hawaiian shirts and three pairs of swimming trunks.

7. How about the time you really needed a restful vacation, and you ended up in New Orleans during  and someone threw up on your shoes?

8. Yes, I guess that hotel must have used a telephoto lens when they took a picture of those guest rooms that you saw on their website.

9. I suppose contacting the Attorney General to resolve the fact that that Internet site has billed your credit card three times instead of once is the only route to take at this point.

10. It was definitely odd that there were no cab drivers at the airport at 3 o’clock in the morning when you finally landed in Costa Rica, but booking a transfer to your very remote hotel would have been a good thing to remember when you purchased your airline ticket and hotel online.

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Will there be an impact regarding the Anti-Gay California Supreme Court Ruling on the State Economy?

As soon as I heard of the California Supreme Court ruling, so many of my favorite California songs, singers, and song writers flashed in my mind, and then they sunk deep into my gut or certainly put a cold dagger in my heart. This final court ruling regarding the issue of Same Sex Marriage is just as my grandmother would say: “Re-gusting”. My partner and I had our first “non-legal ceremony” in her backyard, in Connecticut.

I noticed in one of the many news articles in the comment area, that a reader “certainly would not spend his Gay Dollar in that State”. Also recently in other posted articles within various news outlets along with http://www.365gay.com/ with the headline “Study: Gay marriage cash cow for Mass”: the link to the story http://www.365gay.com/news/study-gay-marriage-cash-cow-for-mass/

As a Travel Agent, and a person that has traveled for most of my life, the idea of denying myself to travel to a destination because of the areas politics, or concerns of my sexual orientation has never stopped me. In several countries, which are not tolerant, certainly in my experience, I have returned with found memories and wonderful experiences. I guess I am one of those travelers that follow the code “When in Rome do as the Romans do”

Yet, in this California situation, I would have to side with the gentleman that mentioned he would not spend his “Gay Dollar” in that State. For the moment, the Northeast Coast of this country, along with Iowa, have placed into their State Laws the Right of Same Sex Marriage.  There is so much to do and explore is this region of the country.  I would only for the time being “delay that trip to California” and explore those States that are welcoming to the community.

Earlier, I posted a series of articles about traveling the New England States. The area is full of wonderful sites, culture, natural beauty, history I would weigh my choices.

A full boycott from our community from vacationing or doing business in the State of California, I believe would be foolish. I believe we would only be hurting our friends and supporters who live in the state. But a noticeable decrease in Tourism or Convention dollars might change the minds of the voters in the State.  If you happen to be in a position of control or influence for an upcoming social or corporate event that COULD be held on California, try to change the location to a state that has recognized Same Sex as an Equal Right. Now would be a good time to start exploring other locations and re-arranging your plans. After the event you might consider sending copy of the invoice and a letter expressing your displeasure on the results of the vote and Court decision on Prop 8.
DEBRA BOWEN
California’s 30th Secretary of State
California Secretary of State
1500 11th Street
Sacramento, California 95814

If we are in a period of history when history is repeating itself, then instead of “Going to the Golden West” return to the Eastern Sunrise areas.

“The history of any public character involves not only the facts about him but what the public has taken to be facts.”

– J. Frank Dobie

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IGLTA Announces Partnership with the Cruise Lines International Association

IGLTA and CLIA Organizations join forces to increase visibility, cross-promotion and joint membership.

Fort Lauderdale, Fla., March 10, 2009 — The International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) and the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) are proud to announce a new cooperative agreement that will bring the two organizations together on a variety of educational, marketing and member recruitment opportunities.

Under the new agreement, IGLTA and CLIA will not only exchange memberships, but also work together to identify prospective members and joint visibility opportunities in domestic and international markets. Both organizations will support and recognize each other as industry partners at their respective events and annual conventions, including registrations and trade show exposition space.

“With a growing and diversifying membership, IGLTA and its leaders have been focused on increasing the organization’s strategic ties within the travel industry, and this new partnership with CLIA is a major component of that continued outreach,” said IGLTA Executive Director John Tanzella. “I have no doubt that our working together is going to mean many great things for both our membership rosters and the industry at large.”

Created in 1975 by approval of the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission, CLIA is the world’s largest cruise industry trade organization. Today, over 16,000 North American travel agents are registered members. The organization’s 23 member cruise lines sail the world and source guests globally, and these cruise lines represent over 97% of the cruise capacity marketed within North America . Programmatically, CLIA is engaged in travel agent training, research and marketing communications to promote the value and desirability of cursing. The organization also participates in the regulatory and policy development processes for the cruise industry while supporting measures that foster safe, secure and healthy cruise ship environments.

“The gay and lesbian community is very important to the cruise industry, and we look forward to working with IGLTA to promote cruises for all who love to travel,” said Robert Sharak, CLIA executive vice president, marketing and distribution. “The cruise industry has shown tremendous growth over the last twenty years or more in part because the variety of cruise vacations has exceptional appeal for a diverse audience. There is a cruise for every taste, interest and budget, and all travelers are made to feel welcome.”

In January 2009, CLIA reported an optimistic outlook for its industry for the remainder of what is already an economically challenging year around the globe, citing (among many other positive indicators) a still-solid popularity among consumers for cruising, $4.8 billion USD in new ship construction, a diversification in global and “close to home” ports and destinations, and strong growth statistics that have followed the cruise industry through a number of economic downturns since the 1980s.

“There is no doubt that 2009 represents an uncertain environment, not only for CLIA members but for all industries and consumers,” said Terry L. Dale, CLIA’s president and CEO. “However, CLIA members are confident that they will weather the challenges and emerge stronger than ever, as they have before. This is an industry that plans ahead and invests in the future, as evidenced by the impressive number of new ships on order through 2012. The remarkable diversity and variety of cruises give consumers a unique opportunity to find a vacation that fits their budget even during these economic downturns, and we expect that North Americans, Europeans and travelers from all over the world will respond positively.”

Earlier this month, IGLTA released similarly optimistic findings demonstrating the steady strength of the gay and lesbian travel market despite economic conditions that are causing many consumers to alter their spending habits. According to the organization’s press release, which quotes data collected online by Harris Interactive and Witeck-Combs Communications, gay and lesbian travelers continue to vacation in greater numbers than many of their counterparts in the marketplace today. Of particular note is the finding that this niche — which is characteristically brand loyal to gay and lesbian “friendly” companies — is currently buoyed by a growing market power and a higher than average amount of discretionary income.

“When considered side by side, the current findings and projections about the cruise industry and the gay and lesbian travel market suggest a natural partnership between IGLTA and CLIA,” Tanzella said. “Though no industry, organization or single consumer is exempt from the economic downturn, opportunities for growth still exist, and I’m convinced that our two organizations working more closely will demonstrate that.”

IGLTA is the world’s leading authority, resource and representative of gay and lesbian travel. Its membership is located in 55 countries around the world and consists of accommodations, airlines, tour operators, travel agents, tourism office, media and other key players in the tourism industry. IGLTA works to help the tourism industry attract gay and lesbian consumers and learn more about the gay and lesbian market. Since its founding in 1983, IGLTA has expanded its international influence from just 25 members to over 2,000.

My personal note in regards to this wonderful news announcement and joint partnership. There are currently many great cost values and promotions on many of the various cruise lines. When selecting a particular Cruise and the ports of destinations, please be aware that not all ports of call are GLBT friendly and  in some counties our life style is not accepted. The port and and or the country maybe on your “list of places” to visit and experience. Just be aware of this issue. Make the most of the experience enjoy the sites and experience but be aware.

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Travel Impressions Hot Land & Air Promotions

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