TSA Pre Precheck Program for frequent flyers

TSA is rolling out their “pre” program this fall at Dulles IAD and  Indianapolis  IND Airports.   The pre check allows frequent flyers to board somewhat more easily than “regular” flyers.    However the enrollment fee of $85 and fingerprinting hassles mean that for most flyers this may not be worth the trouble and cost.    Obviously frequent travelers may find this worthwhile however, and the $85 is over 5 years and therefore represents a very small annualized cost.

It’ll be hard to tell the time savings until details are finalized because the number of dedicated screening lines for “pre” passengers may determine how much time this process will save.   Time is money, so the $85  fee will be well worth it to frequent business travelers if they can save many hours in waiting over the course of their enrollment.

Here’s more about the “Pre” Precheck program from the TSA Website:

TSA Pre✓™ allows select frequent flyers of participating airlines and members of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Trusted Traveler programs who are flying on participating airlines, to receive expedited screening benefits. Eligible participants use dedicated screening lanes for screening benefits which include leaving on shoes, light outerwear and belts, as well as leaving laptops and 3-1-1 compliant liquids in carry-on bags.

TSA Pre✓™ Application Process

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is announcing plans to implement a TSA Pre✓™ application process. The TSA Pre✓™ fee-based application process will allow U.S. citizens the opportunity to apply for expedited screening without a passport.

When available, the application will be a two-step process:

  1. Fill out an online application.

  2. Verify identity and provide fingerprints at a TSA Pre✓™ enrollment center.

Applicants may pay the anticipated $85 enrollment fee online, or at an enrollment center. There is a five-year term of eligibility, after which members will need to re-apply. TSA expects the vetting process to take approximately 2-3 weeks. A U.S. passport is not required to enroll. The first two enrollment locations, Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) and Indianapolis International Airport (IND), will open in fall 2013 with plans to expand to additional enrollment sites nationwide.


Rick Steves on Rethinking the Massive Cost of Airport Security

the moral of the TSA story is that our safety is coming at a cost that may not be sustainable

Great post today on Facebook by Rick Steves about how we need to do a rational job of assigning costs and benefits to our Airport Security apparatus.   Although I agree with him I think a lot of the blame is with … those of us who continue to irrationally fear terrorism more than the *hundreds* of other greater risks around us, many of which we could mitigate very cheaply.   For example a smoker is creating fairly substantial death risk for themselves, and could live longer simply by spending *less* on smoking.   In other areas like auto accidents (which kill hundreds of times the number of people killed in terror incidents), we could simply make sure more people buckle up and fewer drive drunk.   The cost of these measures is trivial but the lives saved would be vastly more than we save with our TSA security measures.

Of course a challenge Rick is not addressing is that the irrationality many of us apply to this topic means that if we DO have terror incidents it will discourage many from flying at all.   This irrational result means that it might actually be good policy to provide more anti-terror measures than you would apply in a more rational world, because people’s fear might wind up creating large scale problems with the global transportation system.   Thus we might need to spend billions more than is rational in order to prevent losing tens of billions from irrational economic decisions.

Still, the moral of the TSA story is that our safety is coming at a cost that may not be sustainable.   Therefore we should start educating the public to be more rational in how they assign risk and reward, and start working towards sustainable safety spending rather than excessive and irrational political spending programs.

Rick Steves on Facebook:
I’ve been through a lot of airports lately, and I have to say, when people joke about TSA meaning “thousands standing around,” it has a ring of truth. In November, Bloomberg Businessweek reported that we spend about $8 billion a year on scanning machines, all that time-consuming checking, and employing those people who stand between us and our departure gate. And that cost doesn’t even consider the valuable time wasted by travelers who need to allot extra time to cover surprise delays at airport security.

 Sure, we need to spend some money and time on security. But does anyone in government have the nerve to raise their hand and ask, “Could we lighten up here a bit?” or even “Aren’t we going a bit overboard there?” Bloomberg Businessweek reports that entire years go by (such as 2011) when TSA doesn’t spot a single terrorist trying to board an airplane. And then there’s s this staggering statistic: “In fact, extremist Islamic terrorism resulted in just 200 to 400 annual deaths worldwide, outside the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq — the same number…that occur in bathtubs in the US each year.”


Following 9/11, there was, understandably, a push to strengthen our airport security measures. But these efforts may be costing us even more lives. According to Cornell University researchers cited in Bloomberg Businessweek, after 9/11, frightened travelers switching from flights to drives resulted in over 200 more traffic fatalities every month. In the long term, due to security hassles, about 5 percent fewer people fly than used to, resulting in even more road fatalities. In other words, far more people have died on the road as an indirect result of 9/11 than actually died on 9/11.


Maybe it’s time to come to grips with the risk of terrorism and finally put it in a rational perspective. Many will say, “If TSA and all the security saves just one life, it will be worth it.” The way I see it, wasting money wastes lives. Intimidating people into driving instead of flying wastes lives. A nation can reach a point where its passion for showboat security designed to make people feel safe actually kills them. Security is good, but a cost-benefit awareness is simply smart. What do you think?

American Airlines AAdvantage Miles Expiration – extend mileage expiration with a donation

American Airlines Mileage donation program here: http://joinus.aa.com/miles-for-kids-in-need-aadvantage-miles-donate  is both a great cause and a good way to make sure your miles don’t expire unused.   Donations will extend your expiration date – usually to 18 months from the date of donation.     The minimum donation is only 1000 miles so this is probably the “cheapest” way to extend miles as the donation only “costs” you 1000 miles – a value of about $10-$15 depending on your flying and mileage program habits.      My personal rule of thumb *used to be* to use money when the cost of the ticket was LESS THAN a penny per mile used, but this has been complicated by the fact that I have a lot of miles now from credit card offers, ticket have become very expensive, miles tickets are HARD to get, etc.   I’m now inclined use miles whenever possible simply to avoid losing them.

In any case, be SURE to check your miles expiration if you have more than about 5000 miles in your account.   Fewer than that and it may not be worth the time to mess with miles now that tickets have become hard to get using these programs.    For those short on time and long on money I’d say under 10,000 miles may not be worth your hassle time, but obviously if you have over 25000 miles – basically a free round trip in the USA on many airlines – you’ll want to preserve those miles.

As always, the secretary disavows any knowledge of your mission.    Good Luck.

British Airways Miles tips from “The Points Guy”

Brian Kelley is “The Points Guy“, a frequent flyer who helps others get the best from their credit card frequent flyer deals and other travel offers out there.

In an excellent and detailed series of articles linked below, Kelley offers a lot of advice on the British Airways points system, which based on my limited experience offers some challenges in terms of fuel surcharges and other added on fees.   After signing up for new cards my wife and I now have over 200,000 miles to use, but I’m concerned that the “free trips” to London I thought we’d score from this are fading away fast, though it appears BA may allow us to combine several segments – a promising development.   I’ll be reading Kelley’s advice carefully to try to maximize the benefits of the British Airways Frequent Flyer Program.


British Airways Frequent Flyer Travel Tips from “The Points Guy” Brian Kelley:

General tipsPost 1 – Booking BA Awards, Post 2 – Booking Partner Awards, Post 3 – Oneworld Alliance, Post 4 – Taxes and Fees, Post 5 – Household Accounts, Post 6 – Companion Ticket, Post 7 – Using ExpertFlyer for Partner Award Availability, Post 8 – The Art of the Stopover, Post 9 – Leveraging Miles and Cash Redemptions, and Post 10– Using Qantas.com to Find Oneworld Award Availability. Also, be sure to check out my post on the credit card deal itself and the lengthy Q&A in the comments section.

Los Angeles Airport LAX: LAX Control Tower and LAX “Theme Building”

Flickr Photo Credit:
monkeytime | brachiator

The futuristic looking LAX “Theme Building”, one of the great icons of international aerospace industry, reopened in 2010 after its post 9/11 closure for many years.

Here the LA Times reviews the situation as of last year: http://articles.latimes.com/2010/jul/03/local/la-me-lax-building-20100703

As a major international gateway airport LAX is one of the world’s busiest Airport venues.

More from the LAX Los Angeles Airport Authority Official Websites:

LAX Parking:   Click here

LAX Maps:  Click here

LAX Flight Info from OAG:  Click here

Delta Airlines Fleet Map

From the Delta Airlines blog we have a great picture of the entire Delta Airlines Fleet, though you’ll need to click on the picture to get the whole thing:

Delta Airplanes
Picture of all Delta Airplanes

I’d noticed this great graphic flying home from the trip to my family reunion in Bridgewater Virginia and my history trip to Richmond Virginia.    Richmond is one of the USA’s most interesting historical cities, and I’ll be posting a lot more about that with some great photos over at TravelandHistory.com

For more technical information about the Delta Fleet click on the links in this table  (Table courtesy Delta Airlines Website):

Fleet as of March 31, 2011

Aircraft Type Current Fleeta,b Average Age
Owned Leased Total
B737–700 10 10 2.2
B737–800 73 73 10.2
B747–400 4 12 16 17.4
B757–200 93 75 168 18.1
B757–300 16 16 8.1
B767–300 9 5 14 19.7
B767–300ER 50 8 58 15
B767–400ER 21 21 10.1
B777–200ER 8 8 11.2
B777–200LR 10 10 2.0
A319–100 55 2 57 9.2
A320–200 41 28 69 16.1
A330–200 11 11 6.0
A330–300 21 21 5.6
MD–88 66 51 117 20.7
MD–90 19 19 15.1
DC–9 34 34 33
CRJ–100 18 31 49 13
CRJ–200 6 6 11.9
CRJ–700 15 15 7.4
CRJ-900 13 13 3.3
Total 587 218 805 15.1
a Excluding Delta’s grounded planes:  five DC-9, six SAAB 340B+ and 10 CRJ-100/200.
b Excluding 175 CRJ-200, 51 CRJ-900, 36 Embraer 175, 20 SAAB 340+ and 12 CRJ-700. These planes are operated by partner airlines.

Is Selling your Frequent Flyer miles to a “Mileage Broker” legal?

The mileage broker market was once a thriving industry, buying frequent flyer tickets from people and then reselling them at a profit. Understandably the airlines don’t like this practice of monetizing their frequent flyer / mileage plus type systems. These are marketing tools and they arguably lose both control of things and lose paid tickets to free ones (though a mileage broker could make the argument that they are simply making the process more efficient by letting people turn one form of compensation – free tickets – into cash.

In any case this practice is still in play, but appears to be scaled down and risky for both buyer, seller, and especially for the airlines mileage brokers who can wind up in court.

A case that may set the new standards is Alaska Airlines vs Carey et al, where Alaska Air is suing mileage broker Carey (I think a small, husband and wife online business) for what they feel is an illegal resale of frequent flyer / mileage program tickets. I don’t think this case has yet resolved in the courts, though it may have by now.

It should actually be very cost effective to resell miles benefits at the 1.5-2 cent per mile rates we just reviewed at a mileage broker website assuming your travel plans are flexible. My rule of thumb is that miles are only worth about a penny. This calculation assumes you’ll have trouble getting a 25,000 mileage award and probably have to use 37,500 or even 50,000, and also assumes that a bird (cash) in the hand is worth more than a ticket in the bush (mileage award). A lot can happen to those miles in the new frenzied airline business where, for example, shorter – often only 18 month – mileage expiration time limits can easily kill your miles.

QuickAid at this time recommends you do NOT buy this type of ticket as the risks seem to outweigh the benefits, but we’re open to changing our minds depending on how the courts view the legality of mileage brokering.

WiFi at Ho Chi Minh / Saigon Airport SGN

Kudos to SGN for providing at least some internet access to travelers.

SGN is a fairly small, easy to manage airport considering the size of Ho Chi Minh City, but offers most of the amenities of larger airport Venues.

Note:  As of this writing (Feb 12, 2011) domestic flights would not allow liquid containers over 100ml – the same as the normal standards – so pack as normal.

I’m in the domestic terminal at Ho Chi Minh / Saigon Airport in Vietnam (SGN) and getting a fairly good WiFi signal from near the business lounge with ID “Domestic Lounge” and no password required.    I’ve read that access here in domestic flights is spotty where it’s better in international terminal, especially near “Izzy” ? Coffee – can’t check on that terminal yet – but in a few weeks I’ll be in and out of there several times.

For Airport and Vietnam Flight details see the  Ho Chi Minh City Airport official website

For Vietnam Travel information check out Travel and History, the companion blog to Online Highways Travel.

Medical Tourism and Medical Travel

Our new project is a blog and database featuring  Medical Travel and Medical Tourism.    This is very relevant to our work here at the QuickAid Airport Directory because an enjoyable medical travel experience is going to need a nice transition from your home country to your medical tourism destination.

Thailand has become one of the world’s most popular medical tourism destinations as Thailand offers first class medical care in several hospitals located in Bangkok and at other tourism hotspots around the country.

Obviously medical travel is not a good option under some circumstances, but for those who are self-insured or have high deductible health insurance and need expensive routine procedures or even complex operations that can be scheduled ahead of time this may be a way for you to save enough money to pay for a deluxe vacation and still have money left over.

Airport Organizations and Airport Associations

Here, from AirportData.aero, is a nice set of resources about Airports and Aviation:
Airport Organizations
www.icao.int International Civil Aviation Organisation
www.iata.org International Air Transport Association
www.aci.org Airports Council International
www.canso.org Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation
www.eurocontrol.int EUROCONTROL – European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation
www.easa.europa.eu European Aviation Safety Agency
www.jaato.com Joint Aviation Authorities Training Organisation
www.iata.org/ighc IATA Ground Handling Council
Civil Aviation Agencies
www.faa.gov Federal Aviation Administration (USA)
www.aeronav.faa.gov National Aeronautical Navigation Services (AeroNav Services)
www.nfdc.faa.gov National Flight Data Center (FAA)
www.caa.co.uk Civil Aviation Authority (UK)
www.casa.gov.au Civil Aviation Safety Authority (Australia)
www.anac.gov.br Agência Nacional de Aviação Civil (Brazil)
www.tc.gc.ca Transport Canada (Canada)
www.caac.gov.cn Civil Aviation Administration of China (China)
www.aviation-civile.gouv.fr Direction Générale de Aviation Civile (France)
www.bmvbs.de Directorate General for Civil Aviation and Aerospace (Germany)
www.dgca.nic.in Directorate General of Civil Aviation (India)
www.enac-italia.it Ente Nazionale per l’Aviazione Civile (Italy)
www.mlit.go.jp Civil Aviation Bureau (Japan)
www.favt.ru Federal Air Transport Agency (Russia)
www.fomento.es Dirección General de Aviación Civil (Spain)
Airport Associations
www.nbaa.org National Business Aviation Association (USA)
www.ebaa.org European Business Aviation Association
www.meba.aero Middle East Business Aviation
www.asbaa.org Asian Business Aviation Association
www.iaha.info International Aviation Handlers’ Association
www.iatp.com International Airlines Technical Pool
www.euaca.org European Airport Coordinators Association
www.iaopa.org International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations
The International Air Cargo Association
Aviation Resources
www.acukwik.com AC-U-KWIK Inc.
www.nga.mil  National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
www.routesonline.com  Routes Online
www.sita.aero    Société Internationale de Télécommunications Aéronautiques
www.useg.org   United States Diplomatic Clearance and Landing Authorization Procedures
www.who.int  World Health Organization, International Travel and Health Interactive Map
www.oie.int   World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)
www.osac.gov     Overseas Security Advisory Council (USA)
www.aisgroup.com MEDEX Global Solutions (security and risk information)
www.aviationweather.gov    US National Weather Service
weather.noaa.gov    US National Weather Service (global weather charts, b/w copies)
www.airlinequality.com   Airline Quality
Skytrax.com   Skytrax – Airline and Airport Reviews
www.flightstats.com   FlightStats
Aviation News
www.anna.aero    Airline, Airport and Aviation Route News and Analysis
www.airport-business.com    Airport Magazine produced for the ACI
www.flightglobal.com   Flightglobal
strike.skynetblogs.be  Airport, Airline and Air Traffic Strikes and Problems
Other Links
General Aviation information for Europe
www.agschools.com Airline Ground Schools Inc. (aviation training company)
Airport and airline blog
www.airtravelcenter.com Links to various aviation websites
www.hotelsneartheairport.com Airport hotels
bahamasaviator.com Bahamas aviation videos, resorts and pilots’ guide
www.janlefers.nl Enthusiast website covering aviation and nature
www.historyofpia.com History of Pakistan International Airlines (includes other information)
Links to various aviation websites
Roll Out – enthusiast website
Enthusiast website for ultralight aircraft
Enthusiast website for Douglas A/B-26 Invader (includes links to other aviation sites)
Enthusiast website for Grumman S2F/S-2 Tracker (includes links to other aviation sites)

International Organisationswww.icao.int International Civil Aviation Organisationwww.iata.org International Air Transport Associationwww.aci.org Airports Council Internationalwww.canso.org Civil Air Navigation Services Organisationwww.eurocontrol.int EUROCONTROL – European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigationwww.easa.europa.eu European Aviation Safety Agencywww.jaato.com Joint Aviation Authorities Training Organisationwww.iata.org/ighc IATA Ground Handling CouncilCivil Aviation Agencieswww.faa.gov Federal Aviation Administration (USA)www.aeronav.faa.gov National Aeronautical Navigation Services (AeroNav Services)www.nfdc.faa.gov National Flight Data Center (FAA)www.caa.co.uk Civil Aviation Authority (UK)www.casa.gov.au Civil Aviation Safety Authority (Australia)www.anac.gov.br Agência Nacional de Aviação Civil (Brazil)www.tc.gc.ca Transport Canada (Canada)www.caac.gov.cn Civil Aviation Administration of China (China)www.aviation-civile.gouv.fr Direction Générale de Aviation Civile (France)www.bmvbs.de Directorate General for Civil Aviation and Aerospace (Germany)www.dgca.nic.in Directorate General of Civil Aviation (India)www.enac-italia.it Ente Nazionale per l’Aviazione Civile (Italy)www.mlit.go.jp Civil Aviation Bureau (Japan)www.favt.ru Federal Air Transport Agency (Russia)www.fomento.es Dirección General de Aviación Civil (Spain)Associationswww.nbaa.org National Business Aviation Association (USA)www.ebaa.org European Business Aviation Associationwww.meba.aero Middle East Business Aviationwww.asbaa.org Asian Business Aviation Associationwww.iaha.info International Aviation Handlers’ Associationwww.iatp.com International Airlines Technical Poolwww.euaca.org European Airport Coordinators Associationwww.iaopa.org International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associationswww.tiaca.orgThe International Air Cargo AssociationAviation Resourceswww.acukwik.com AC-U-KWIK Inc.www.nga.mil National Geospatial-Intelligence Agencywww.routesonline.com Routes Onlinewww.sita.aero Société Internationale de Télécommunications Aéronautiqueswww.useg.orgUnited States Diplomatic Clearance and Landing Authorization Procedureswww.who.intWorld Health Organization, International Travel and Health Interactive Mapwww.oie.intWorld Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)www.osac.govOverseas Security Advisory Council (USA)www.aisgroup.com MEDEX Global Solutions (security and risk information)www.aviationweather.govUS National Weather Service (global weather charts, coloured maps)weather.noaa.govUS National Weather Service (global weather charts, b/w copies)www.airlinequality.comSkytrax – Airline and Airport Reviewswww.flightstats.comFlightStats (airport and flight status and delays)www.qppstudio.netQ++ Studio (Worldwide Public Holidays)
Aviation Newswww.anna.aero Airline, Airport and Aviation Route News and Analysiswww.airport-business.com Airport Magazine produced for the ACIwww.flightglobal.comFlightglobalstrike.skynetblogs.be Airport, Airline and Air Traffic Strikes and Problems (details on industrial action)
Other Linkswww.flyingineurope.beGeneral Aviation information for Europewww.agschools.com Airline Ground Schools Inc. (aviation training company)www.quickaid.comAirport and airline blogwww.airtravelcenter.com Links to various aviation websiteswww.hotelsneartheairport.com Airport hotelsbahamasaviator.com Bahamas aviation videos, resorts and pilots’ guidewww.janlefers.nl Enthusiast website covering aviation and naturewww.historyofpia.com History of Pakistan International Airlines (includes other information)www.tenofsix.comLinks to various aviation websitesaerospotter.blogspot.comRoll Out – enthusiast websitejameswiebe.blogspot.comEnthusiast website for ultralight aircraftnapoleon130.tripod.comEnthusiast website for Douglas A/B-26 Invader (includes links to other aviation sites)www.s2ftracker.comEnthusiast website for Grumman S2F/S-2 Tracker (includes links to other aviation sites)