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Anyone who’s flown has been there — that moment when you’re passing through the TSA security checkpoint, and have to take off your shoes, empty your pockets, take off your belt and place your laptop in a bin. And you can double the fun if you have little kids in tow. Now TSA’s PreCheck program aims to make travel easier for those flying the increasingly complicated skies. But just in case you think PreCheck is a one-size-fits-all panacea, not so fast.
You can’t just sign up for PreCheck. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple … yet. TSA plans to — eventually — allow all travelers to apply directly to the PreCheck program, but it’s not clear when they’ll open up the application process. For now, travelers can enroll in the program in one of 2 ways: be selected to apply for the program based on your frequent-flyer status with an airline, or, enroll in one of several US Customs and Border Protection trusted traveler programs.
For Airline Frequent Flyers
Elite members of airlines’ frequent traveler programs — United, American, etc – if selected, can apply for PreCheck. If not selected, frequent flyers can still participate by joining a CBP Trusted Traveler program. Note that you must submit your biometric fingerprint for registration with the FBI, as well as undergo a criminal background check and pay an $85 fee to the TSA for a 5-year PreCheck membership. This program is slated to bring a total of $225 million to the TSA in 2013, and beyond that, over the next year, a reduction in passenger screening – the TSA’s goal is to see 25% of passengers see lighter scrutiny.
Photography by Getty Images
In an $11 billion deal that would create the world’s largest airline, American Airlines and US Airways have agreed to merge. The new airline will take the American Airlines name to help keep the company afloat after it filed for bankruptcy more than a year ago. The mega-merger deal is scheduled to close in the third quarter of 2013 and make its debut at an airport near you — well, sometime soon.
So what does this pending merger mean for travelers? For one, less competition in the airline industry could mean price hikes for customers. The new American Airlines — with 900 planes, 95,000 employees and 3,200 daily flights — will have the scale, breadth and capabilities to compete more effectively, according to US Airways CEO Doug Parker. The new American, along with United, Delta and Southwest, would control over 70% of the US market. So frequent fliers are warned to expect a rise in ticket prices.
Travelers flying American or US Airways won’t notice immediate changes. Industry officials say that it’s likely the airlines will operate separately for the first year and that existing tickets will be honored. However, it’ll be months before the frequent-flyer programs are combined and years before the 2 airlines are fully integrated.
For corporate business travelers, there may be a few perks. US Airways and American officials expect the combined network of flights and routes to lure corporate travelers away from competitors.
The new airline will keep all hubs for both airlines, but no word yet on a location for the operations center, reservations, flight training, and maintenance and crew bases.
Fleet Week in New York City …
Remember that Sex and the City episode when Carrie meets a sailor from Louisiana? It didn’t work out too well for her, but the rest of the ladies enjoyed the Fleet Week festivities. This past week was Fleet Week in New York City and sailors, marines and coasties took over Manhattan for parades, concerts and other events. READ MORE
Photo: United Continental
Great news for business travelers and frequent fliers! United Continental has announced plans to offer more perks to its customers, including free in-flight Wi-Fi. United Airlines will add Wi-Fi to more than 200 planes, including its Boeing 737 and 757 aircraft.
United Continental also includes Continental, which merged with United late last year. The airlines are in the process of moving to a unified brand. Continental already offers LiveTV to its customers, but soon both airlines will provide fliers with access to Wi-Fi and 95 LiveTV stations.
The airline merger has even bigger plans on the horizon. United Continental is exploring adding international Wi-Fi service and looking at striking a deal with other broadband providers to help wire its fleet of more than 700 jets, according to United Continental CEO Jeff Smisek.
Delta and American Airlines have increased their fares, targeting First Class and Business Class passengers who make last-minute purchases.
Here’s a quick breakdown. If you’re flying less than 500 miles each way, then you’ll receive a $20 hike in fare price. For 501 to 1,500 miles, expect a fare increase of $40. Last-minute travelers will pay $60 more if their flight is 1,500 miles or more each way.
An increase in oil prices has forced Delta to increase their fare prices. The Associated Press asked American why it was raising prices. They simply replied, “We’re responding to the Delta initiative.”
Check out our review of the Kayak app and how you can travel in business class for less. Our tips may help you minimize your airfare costs.