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March 2016 - ATX Fun - Austin-San Antonio Fun, Travel & Educational Opportunities

How to Avoid Long Lines at the Airport – PreCheck and Global Entry

In the United States we have great options for skipping long security and passport lines.

The shortcut for security lines is called PreCheck. If your printed boarding pass has “PRE” or something similar, you qualify for the short and fast PreCheck line. You can leave your shoes on and your laptop in the bag, but you will need to “de-magnetize” yourself by removing metal so you can pass through the metal detector.

The best shortcut for passport lines when returning to the United States from overseas is Global Entry, although the government is slowly rolling out a smartphone app that may work as well.

How can you get PreCheck or Global Entry? Some airlines can bestow PreCheck to their premium passengers. If you don’t fall into that category, your best options are either buy PreCheck ($85 for 5 years) or buy Global Entry ($100 for 5 years, includes PreCheck). Unless you are certain that you will not be traveling internationally in the next 5 years, Global Entry is the better option.

Google “Global Entry” to find the U.S. government website that explains how to get started and to schedule an interview. The interview is quick and easy for most people.

U.S. Passport
U.S. Passport

It happened to me in February…I checked into a Hilton Hotel and they would not give me (a Diamond) an upgrade…said they were Full.

I wish I had thought to do this at the time:

Just accept the crummy room they offer, then go online from it and see what kind of rooms the hotel is selling. Complain to the desk clerk or online.

This should work for any hotel brand.

Hilton Hotel

USA to Hong Kong on Delta & United for $444 / $481, Round-Trip.

Available this Spring and Fall. Fly Delta from United Airlines’ hubs (Chicago, Denver, Houston, Newark, San Francisco, Washington DC), fly United from Delta’s hubs (Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis, Seattle).

Fly From Delta Or United Hubs To Hong Kong From Just $444 Round-Trip!

Unknown if American Airlines or others will jump into this spat.

Hong Kong Skyline
Hong Kong Skyline

Big Hilton HHonors Bonus for No-Fee Credit Card

This is a pretty darn good offer: 75,000 Hilton HHonors points for getting a new Amex credit card and spending just $1000.

American Express Hilton HHonors (No Annual Fee): 75,000 Points After $1,000 Spend [New Highest Bonus]

Best of all, the card has no annual fee. That means it’s a keeper, and if you use it for some small purchase from time to time it will give you a few HHonors points which will preserve the rest of your points.

Just having the card gives you automatic Silver status at Hilton, which isn’t terribly valuable but at least gives you a little leverage. If you spend $20,000 in a year your Hilton HHonors status will jump to Gold and you will have earned at least 60,000 more HHonors points.

Hilton Hotel

Virgin America Will Match Your Status on Another Airline

So, say you have Gold, Platinum or Executive Platinum (or the equivalent) on an airline, and you would like to fly Virgin America (VAm) but have no status with them. Now you’re in luck!

Virgin America Status Match

Virgin America has Elevate Silver and Elevate Gold levels, and will match you into one of them if you have status on American, Delta, Southwest or United.

The Southwest Airlines rule is peculiar…VAm will match you into Elevate Gold if you have a Companion Pass on SWA. Many of us don’t think of the Companion Pass as a status level, but evidently VAm does.

For the Adventurous, JFK to Baku, Azerbaijan, $663 r/t for Summer Travel

Flying Coach on Azerbaijan Airlines.

In case your geography is a bit weak, Azerbaijan is located north of Iran on the Caspian Sea. Its other neighbors include Armenia, Georgia and Ukraine.

Baku, the capital, has a medieval walled old city and numerous other historic forts, palaces, etc. And some beautiful architecture…