What to Know about the Global Entry Program

If you travel abroad regularly, you may want to consider applying for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Global Entry program, which allows eligible flyers to take expedited lines at the airport when returning to the U.S. Here’s how Global Entry works, courtesy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Global Entry Program:

What It Is

According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Global Entry program allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Members enter the U.S. through automatic kiosks at select airports.

At airports, program members proceed to Global Entry kiosks, present their machine-readable passport or U.S. permanent resident card, place their fingerprints on the scanner for fingerprint verification and complete a customs declaration. The kiosk issues the traveler a transaction receipt and directs the traveler to baggage claim and the exit.

While Global Entry’s goal is to speed travelers through the process, members may still be selected for further examination when entering the United States. Any violation of the program’s terms and conditions will result in the appropriate enforcement action and termination of the traveler’s membership privileges.

How to Sign Up

Travelers must be pre-approved for the Global Entry program. All applicants undergo a rigorous background check and in-person interview before enrollment.

To begin, create a Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP) account. Once you log in, complete the application. A $100 non-refundable fee is required with each completed application. American Express members can get a fee credit if they use their card when filling out the application.

Customs will then review your application. This will include a thorough background check involving law enforcement, customs, immigration, agriculture, and terrorist databases as well as biometric fingerprint checks.

Once you’re conditionally approved, your TTP account will instruct you to schedule an interview with a Customs agent at a Global Entry Enrollment Center.

For the Global Entry interview, bring a valid passport and one other form of identification, such as a driver’s license or ID card. If you are a lawful permanent resident, you must present your machine-readable permanent resident card (green card).

Who is Eligible for Global Entry?

Americans as well as citizens from the following 11 nations and territories are eligible for Global Entry: Argentina, Colombia, India, Germany, Mexico, Panama, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom.

Canadian citizens and residents are eligible for Global Entry benefits through membership in their country’s NEXUS program.

If you have been convicted of a crime, or have criminal charges pending or are under investigation, you may not be eligible for Global Entry. If you are denied for the program and you feel the decision was in error, you can provide additional documentation to the CBP Trusted Traveler Ombudsman to request reconsideration.

Just send an email to the CBP Trusted Traveler Ombudsman at: cbpvc@cbp.dhs.gov, “Attention: CBP Ombudsman.”

Global Entry Cards

If approved, you will be issued a radio frequency identification (RFID) Global Entry card. To activate your card, log into your TTP account and click on the “Activate Membership Card” button.

While the cards are accepted at U.S. land and sea ports of entry, Customs can process you without one, as long as you have your ID and other travel information. The cards are only required for expedited entry at the SENTRI and NEXUS lanes coming into the United States.

The cards are not accepted at Global Entry kiosks. Those require passports or green cards.

Can Family Members Travel via Global Entry?

Yes, if those family members have their own Global Entry memberships. Minor children 18 years or younger are required to have parental or legal guardianship permission to sign up for the program.

Each family member that you wish to add to the program must create a TTP Account and fill out a separate application.

Head-of-the-Line Privilege

The head of the line privilege is a perk available only at U.S. airports with Global Entry kiosks. The head-of-the-line privilege is reserved for program members if the kiosks are not working for some reason. The privilege can also be instituted if a member gets referred to a CBP officer, and at the exit points.

For more information on the Global Entry program, visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website.

TSA Installs New 3-D Security Scanners at JFK, Spots Explosives Better

The Transportation Security Administration has taken steps to improve airport security at John F. Kennedy International Airport with new checkpoint technology.

A new computed tomography (CT) checkpoint scanner provides advanced 3-D imaging and will replace aging X-ray scanners with 3-D scanners, according to a CBSnews.com article.

More effective at detecting bombs

The new 3-D scanners—which are being rolled out at a checkpoint at the American Airlines terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City—use the same technology as CT scans and would change the way bags are scanned at airports across the country.

The brand-new Analogic 3-D CT scanner can see through just about anything in a carry-on bag to spot a potential threat, and the TSA believes that the new scanners will be able to spot explosives more effectively than older machines.

Concerns about certain explosives getting by some older X-ray machines prompted the TSA to ask flyers to take devices larger than a phone out of their bags, and remove food, liquids, and recently, powders. This new scanner technology may bring all that to an end. TSA Administrator David Pekoske commented, “What it’s capable of doing is detecting a wider range of explosives, which is very important, as well as a much lower weight of explosives…they’re just much better at detection, so you really get better security faster.”

And Jose Freig, American Airlines’ head of security, painted a future image for travelers: “Just getting to that point when, in a non-precheck lane, you’re able to keep your liquids, gels, aerosols, and laptops and electronics in your bags. It’s a new era, if you will, and we’re really excited about it.” American Airlines donated eight of the scanners to the TSA, each costing around $300,000, including the one at JFK.

How the new scanner works

The Analogic scanner works like a CT machine in a hospital, seeing through even a cluttered bag and giving screeners the ability to zoom in and rotate the bag for a 360-degree view. The scanner creates a clear image of a bag’s contents by shooting hundreds of images with an X-ray camera. The system can automatically detect explosives, including liquids, and help provide TSA officers with the three-dimensional views of the contents of a carry-on bag. TSA agents have found the 3-D scanners speed up the screening process by reducing the need for secondary bag checks.

Scanner rollout in progress

The TSA has also tested implemented CT scanner checkpoints at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and Logan International Airport in Boston.

The TSA plans to have 15 scanners deployed to airports by the end of the year, and are authorized to buy up to 240 in 2019. They’ll need about 2,000 to cover every airport checkpoint in the country.

Congress is pushing the TSA to get these out there as quickly as possible, but it’ll take years to replace the old X-ray machines at every airport.

“It’s revolutionary,” says TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “We think in perhaps five years or so, the passengers won’t have to take anything out of their carry-on bags.”

Source: CBSnews.com

TSA May Start Screening Snacks

Frequent flyers be aware that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) may start asking you to take snacks out of your bag so an agent can get a closer look at your goodies, according to Today.com.

Why the increased inspections.

For years, the TSA has been evolving its security screening procedures, including larger electronics such as laptops, liquids, batteries, and shoes. In addition to these items, TSA has now stated that passengers may also be asked to remove other items, such as food and powders from carry-ons because those additional items may clutter bags and obstruct the X-ray scanner from getting a better image.

The Washington Post reported that new, high-tech scanners search for organic compounds in explosives, which sometimes leads to false alarms when scanning food items. As a result, an agent may need to do a hands-on bag check, which makes the screening process slower.

Though not mandatory—there has been no nationwide policy change requiring people to remove food from their carry-ons to get through security—as of yet, more travelers have been noticing the enhanced security measures recently, and many others are claiming they’ve had their snacks inspected before flying. A TSA representative commented, “This isn’t always necessary, but it does help X-ray operators get a clearer view of the contents of the bag and speeds up the screening process.”

Plan ahead to remove food.

That said, as removing foods from your carry-on and placing them in a bin takes additional time, it’s a good idea to plan ahead in preparation. The TSA recommends organizing your bags with the screening process in mind, which they say will help keep lines moving.

Place snacks where they are easy to access in case you need to remove them. One travel blogger noted, “It is much easier to remove one large Ziploc bag where all the snacks are contained than it is to hunt in 14 different pockets for snacks scattered across your luggage.”

It’s important to note that the snack-related security changes won’t affect the type of foods you can carry with you, which include cakes, pies, bread, doughnuts, fruits and vegetables (when flying domestically).

Passengers are permitted to bring outside food on planes, although there are restrictions on fresh produce and meats when traveling to some international destinations, and any food that could be considered a liquid (including spreads like peanut butter) can only be carried on in servings of less than 3.4 ounces.

Once passengers have successfully passed through security, their food is safe from any other inspection.

The TSA website gives information on what is and is not permitted on flights, so it’s always beneficial to plan ahead as much as possible. If you’re not sure if your food item is allowed (lobsters are, by the way, but ice cream is not), search the TSA’s What Can I Bring? list.

Also read these additional flight packing tips:

Get a good carry-on bag.

It’s called a 22″ spinner carry-on bag. It’s the bag you see speedily rolling behind many pilots and flight attendants as they make their way to their next gate. Look for a sturdy, well-designed but lightweight bag with roomy pockets and a wide wheelbase. Spinner carry-ons get their name because of their four wheels. Bags with four wheels are easier to move around than those with just two. Airlines require carry-on bags that are small enough to fit under the seat or in the overhead compartment. Maximum size limits are typically 22″ long x 14″ wide x 9″ tall and 40 pounds. That’s why the 22″ spinner is a popular carry-on size. Most airlines allow you to carry on one small bag plus one personal item, including a laptop, purse or briefcase as long as it doesn’t exceed 36″ total and fits under the seat in front of you.

Understand what you can pack.

While you’re allowed to carry liquids, gels, and aerosols in your carry-on bag, there are restrictions you must be aware of before you pack. According to the TSA website, all liquids, gels, and aerosols must be in 3.4 ounce (100ml) or smaller containers. Larger containers that are half-full or rolled up are not allowed. All liquids, gels, and aerosols must be placed in a single, quart-size, zip-top, clear plastic bag. Gallon size bags or bags that are not zip-top such as fold-over sandwich bags are not allowed. For more details about what you can carry on an airplane, visit TSA.gov/311.

Utilize all the space.

The key to maximizing space in a 22″ spinner carry-on is to roll your clothes into “tubes” instead of folding and stacking them like they do on shelves. Rolling saves space and also helps prevent wrinkles. It’s also easier to select what you want to wear from your bag without unpacking the whole thing. Roll several items together to prevent more wrinkles. Don’t pack them in the carry-on bag as soon as you roll them. Once all the clothes are rolled, stand the carry-on up and pack heavier things such as shoes and books first at the wheel-end of the case so they don’t move around and crush the other items. One flight attendant claims she can pack clothes for 10 days by rolling instead of folding them. Another advocates the use of vacuum space saver bags.

Wear your nice, and harder to pack clothes and shoes on the plane. They won’t wrinkle or take up space in your carry-on. Even if you’re able to pack everything you want in the bag, keep in mind the typical 40 pound weight limit.

Source: Today.com

How to Wear an Airline Oxygen Mask

We’ve all set through the flight attendant safety briefings before takeoff, including how to properly wear an airline oxygen mask in case of an emergency. But were we actually listening and paying attention?

Last April, when an engine on Southwest Airlines flight 1380 failed and broke apart, tragically killing a passenger and forcing an emergency landing, photos emerged showing the vast majority of passengers wearing their oxygen masks incorrectly—some had them on upside down, many didn’t have the mask covering their noses.

So, do yourself and the passenger next to you a favor and take a minute to read the following on how to properly wear an airline emergency oxygen mask, courtesy of stuff.com.

Pay attention—even if you’ve heard it before

Grant Amos is principal director of Flying Without Fear, an Air New Zealand program to help flyers become more informed, safe and comfortable airline passengers.

“Humans tend to operate on the basis that ‘It won’t happen to me, and if it does, I’ll be fine in an emergency because I’m sure I’ll know what to do,’” Amos says. “There is that concept that ‘I’m sure I’ll be able to handle it’ people don’t fully understand what they’re getting involved in.” Amos said the Southwest flight proved that many U.S. passengers didn’t know what they were doing.

Flying has been made very easy and seamless, Amos says, and as a result “passengers lost sight of the fact they they’re not in their living rooms—and if something goes wrong they have to know what to do—properly.”

While frequent flyers may assume they already understand all the standard safety precautions, equipment and procedures vary between airlines and airplanes, so it pays to pay attention each and every time you are on a plane and the flight attendant goes through the mandatory safety briefing.

Should an emergency, or even very rough turbulence, occur, a well-briefed passenger will depend less on crew members, stay calmer, avoid panic, and have a greater chance of survival.

How to properly wear a mask

On the Southwest flight, many passengers were holding the mask by hand over their mouths,” Amos reports. “Some of them were too busy worrying about selfies and sending texts to worry about oxygen – when getting oxygen was the most crucial thing,” he adds.

An aircraft’s oxygen mask should be worn over your mouth and nose, and the elastic band should be around your head.

A recent Air New Zealand safety video says: “If you need some 21st century air, oxygen masks will fall down from above. Just pull down on the mask, and place it over your nose and mouth. Pull on both sides of the elastic to tighten it. Don’t worry if the bag doesn’t inflate, oxygen will flow easily. And make sure you’ve got your own mask on before helping children, or those who are less able.”

Count the rows to the doors/exits

What else can flyers do besides pay attention to the safety briefing? The Federal Aviation Administration advises flyers to count the number of rows between them and the nearest exit upon boarding the flight, according to Condé Nast Traveler.

Business Insider reported that John Chesire, a retired airline captain, pays special attention to each airplane’s aisles to be prepared for emergencies. “For one thing, I always look around to find the nearest emergency exit,” Cheshire wrote. “Then I count the number of seats between me and that exit. It only takes a quick glance. I do this so if ever necessary, I can in the dark, or under water, or if there is smoke, or if upside down, I know beforehand where the exit is, and I can blindly count the number of seats by touch to reach that emergency exit row, because I have counted them,” Chesire added. “It’s quick and easy to do, every time.”

Also try to remember a second and third exit from the plane in case the aisle closest to you is blocked. And, according to The HuffPost, if you want to further protect yourself as a passenger, consider studying the safety card in your seat-back pocket. Even if you’re able to count ahead and reach the exit aisles in the event of an emergency, some exits open differently depending on the type of plane.

Source: Stuff.com

Tips for an Enjoyable Hotel Stay

When staying at a hotel, knowing you got a good rate and great location are just two aspects of an enjoyable stay. The other, of course, is whether you enjoy the hotel, in particular, and your room.

Here are some inside tips to help ensure you have a safe, healthy, and happy hotel visit.

Be nice to the staff.

It goes without saying, but basic manners go a long way in hotels and restaurants. Be kind and appreciative to the staff, especially the front desk agent who checks you in. He or she, more than anyone else, can make your stay either a pleasure or a disaster.

Keep an eye on CO.

You’re probably aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO), and may even have a CO detector in your home. CO is an odorless, colorless and toxic gas. Because it is impossible to see, taste, or smell the toxic fumes, CO — often called “the silent killer”” — can kill before a person is aware of it. The effects of CO vary from person to person, but symptoms generally include headaches, dizziness, disorientation, nausea and fatigue.

When booking a room in a hotel, ask if they have CO alarms installed in the rooms. If not, don’t book or accept a room equipped with a fuel-burning device, such as a wood-burning stove or gas fireplace. If you stay there anyway, definitely do not let the unit run through the night.

Also, do not book a room that opens onto an enclosed parking area, or next to an indoor garage. There could be CO gas in the air. You may also want to invest in a portable carbon monoxide detector. If symptoms such as headache, dizziness, nausea, weakness, and/or confusion occur, get to fresh air quickly.

Think twice about valet parking.

Remember that scene in the movie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off when the garage parking attendants took Cameron’s father’s prized 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California convertible for a joyride? “Borrowing” parked cars goes on more than you may realize. Granted, it usually happens with really nice cars, so if you’re just tooling around in a rental, you probably don’t have to worry.

Beware of bedbugs.

It’s not pleasant to think about, but bedbugs are a problem in many hotels across the nation. If you’re worried about bedbugs in a hotel, you can check for them yourself in the bed, sofa, and chairs. Here’s what you need and some telltale signs to look for:

Pack a few useful items for identifying bedbug infestations, including a flashlight and a magnifying glass. You can also use an old credit card to scrape and dig for signs of bedbugs.

Adult bedbugs are flat, brown, oval, and wingless, and measure about 1/4 to 3/8 inches long. They change from brown to purplish-red after they eat, becoming larger and more cigar-shaped. Young bedbugs look like adults, but smaller.

Check the bed’s mattress, box spring, and sheets for any signs, such as rusty or reddish stains on the bed linens, pillows and mattresses.

Look at carpeting or flooring around and under beds. Bedbug excrement leaves dark spots, about the size of a period on a printed page. Bedbug waste “bleeds” on fabrics like a pen or marker would.

Inspect the furniture for bedbug eggs and eggshells, which are white and about 1 mm in size. Open and inspect zippered coverings on furniture and pillows, and at frames and feet of sofas and chairs.

Check walls, wall hangings, paintings, clocks, baseboards, floorboards, and electrical outlets. Use an old playing card or credit card to probe and scrape out any live bedbugs, remains, or waste.

BYOG: Bring your own glass.

It’s a little known fact, but hotel housekeepers sometimes use furniture polish to ensure the hotel room glasses sparkle, and don’t have any spots. So, it’s probably a wise idea to pack your own drinking glass, or ask the hotel bartender if you can borrow a clean glass during your stay.

Ditch the duvet cover.

Most hotels wash the sheets and blankets on a regular basis, but few, if any, ever wash the duvet covers. So, do yourself a favor and strip that bad boy right off the bed when you get there. If you think you might get cold at night, call the front desk and (nicely) request a clean extra blanket.

Don’t be cheap — tip well.

Tip well, especially a bellman if he brings your luggage up or down from your room in a timely manner. Don’t forget the housekeeper who has to clean your room after you leave, and again, the all-powerful front desk agent — give this person a $10 bill when you check in, and it will help ensure you’re stay is a pleasant one.

Double check incidentals and mini bar bill.

If you’re billed for incidentals and/or the mini bar, be sure to review the bill and make sure charges are legitimate. Hotel staff has been known to steal from a room’s minibar, sticking the guest with an unwarranted bill. If the charges aren’t yours, dispute them. To avoid room extras, bring your own supplies.

How to Protect Your Stuff at the Airport

When you’re flying, your personal belongings can be lost between point A and point B—but air travelers should also be aware that their property can go missing while passing through airport security.

It’s true. The Daily Mail reported that thieves are targeting tourists and other travelers at Gatwick Airport just outside London, England—they’re brazenly stealing personal items from the security checkpoint conveyor belt, such as laptops, cosmetics, jewelry and even a loved one’s ashes have all gone missing, the Mail reports.

But fear not, travelers, here are five ways to protect your stuff at security, courtesy of Clark.com and writer, Craig Johnson.

Keep an eye on those laptops

As far back as 2008, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reported that more than 10,000 laptops were stolen every day, according to PCWorld. And a 2017 study conducted by Stratos Jet Charters, an air charter service, showed that it’s extremely difficult to get reimbursed by the TSA once an item is reported as missing or stolen. Nearly 70 percent of the claims were denied, while fully-approved claims tallied less than 32 percent, according to the Stratos study.

While there are many studies and statistics on a wide array of aviation-related topics, there is surprisingly little tracked regarding in-airport theft. In fact, officials frequently count missing belongings, reported thefts and related claims in the same category.

Stay aware at the security line

A hot spot for in-airport theft is the TSA security line. Think about it: thousands of air travelers trustingly place and leave their belongings behind on the conveyor belt as they pass through the TSA security checkpoint. As owners are distracted, thieves can help themselves to valuable laptops and other items.

For example, one traveler reported that her bags made it through security quicker than she did, and that’s when she noticed her laptop went missing. After three days of emails, she finally was put in contact with the terminal manager, who told her there was nothing he could do.

What makes it even more difficult is when a traveler doesn’t realize their item is missing until after the flight and they are at their destination. Where did it go missing? Was it at the airport, during the flight, or on the ride home? Then there’s the matter of whom do you call — the police, the airline or one of several agencies in the mix?

To help protect your belongings, here are some good security tips to remember:

  • Keep a list of your belongings. To help you stay focused en route, write down a list of your belongings on a piece of paper, and keep it in your pocket when traveling. You can keep it in your hand along with your boarding pass and ID while being processed through security or even in your phone. Then when you pass through security, refer to the list and make sure you have everything then and there.
  • Take pictures of your stuff. Another quick and easy way to keep track of your belongings is to take photos of them with your phone. Before leaving for the airport, shoot quick pics of all your bags and the contents within. If you have to prove something went missing, you have proof.
  • Slow down and pay attention. It’s easy to rush when you’re traveling, but that’s when mistakes happen. Stay aware of what’s in your hands, pockets and bags, as well as your surroundings. Don’t leave your luggage unattended and do your best to keep your eyes on your stuff as it passes through the security checkpoint.
  • Use the buddy system. If you’re traveling with a friend, talk ahead of time about keeping your eyes on each other’s bags, as well as your own. Four eyes are better than two. This will be especially helpful as you pass through the security checkpoint.
  • Don’t draw attention with fancy bags. You may want to leave the Louis Vuitton luggage at home—it will attract the wrong kind of attention. Instead, opt for small, unassuming luggage that you can identify easily. When it goes through security, be quick to locate it along with the rest of your stuff.

Source: Clark.com

10 Tips to Fight Gas Prices and Save on Fuel

American motorists can expect to pay more on their summer road trips, Forbes.com reports.

The average cost of a gallon of regular unleaded is expected to reach $2.74, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). That’s a 14 percent boost over last year’s seasonal average of $2.41 a gallon and would be the highest pump price recorded since summer 2015, when gas hit $2.81 a gallon.

And GasBuddy, an app that connects drivers to the most cost-effective gas stations, released their 2018 Fuel Price Outlook.

The report claims:

  • Most of the country will see prices peak under $3 per gallon, but unexpected disruptions could push the national average close to $3.
  • Metro areas including Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Sacramento, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington D.C. will likely see prices eclipse $3 per gallon.
  • Cities such as Cleveland, Detroit, Miami, Minneapolis, Orlando, St. Louis and Tampa may get within arm’s reach of such prices.

Before you head out on that road trip, here’s some fuel-saving advice according to Telegraph.com.

1. Combine errands and make fewer trips

Did you know that when you drive a car that has been parked for a few hours, the engine is cold and it uses much more fuel for the first five miles or so? So, try to combine all your daily errands into one big trip.

2. Avoid rush hour and traffic jams

There are few worse places to spend your time than stuck in a traffic jam, but it’s also a very expensive way of travelling. Every time that you stop and start in traffic, your car needs first gear and a huge amount of fuel to get moving again. Second gear is not much better. The best solution is to not travel during the rush hour.

If you are stuck in traffic, try to keep a safe distance from the car in front of you, and travel steadily at a slow speed, rather than accelerating and braking. If you have to travel in rush hour, then you could consider buying a hybrid car, which uses much less fuel in town than a normal gas or diesel.

3. Stick to the speed limit

Sure, if you travel a bit faster than the speed limit, you could shave a bit of time off your journey, particularly on long highway trips, but what you save in time you pay for in extra fuel.

4. Learn to accelerate smoothly

The most efficient way to drive is smoothly and at a constant speed. So if you’re a patient driver, you’ll have lower fuel bills. Sometimes you need to speed up to pass another vehicle, but let common sense and manners be your guide. There’s little point accelerating past a car to simply be in front of it at the next set of lights as any instant gratification will appear on your fuel bill the next time you fill up.

5. Don’t push the accelerator down too far

Another factor in driving smoothly and efficiently is not pushing the accelerator down a long way to avoid changing into a lower gear—you’re actually using more fuel, not less. Obviously, if your car has an automatic gearbox, then it will probably do a better job than you of choosing which gear to be in, so it’s not a problem.

6. Turn the air-conditioning off

When it’s not necessary, turn the A/C off. It will save fuel, unless you’re at cruising speed on a highway. In that case, it’s probably more fuel efficient to keep the A/C on and windows rolled up.

7. Close the windows and sunroof on the highway.

It doesn’t matter as much when driving at lower speeds around town, but when you’re on the highway at cruising speed, the shape of your car is very important. Car designers call it aerodynamics and make lots of effort to reduce the ‘drag’ and make the car as sleek as possible. Anything that makes wind noise as your car goes along is actually making your car work harder, and thus more expensive to run. You can’t do much about the design of your car, but you can avoid making it worse by not leaving the windows and sunroof open. It’s better to use the air vents for most of the year, and the air-conditioning when it gets too hot.

8. Check your tire pressures regularly

This is a big one: the lower the tire pressure, the more fuel the car needs to move it down the road. We recommend that you take five minutes every two weeks or so to check the air pressure in your tires. Buy a tire gauge at a gas station or auto parts store, and go to a gas station with an air machine. Check the proper PSI (pounds per square inch) on the sidewall of your tires, and fill the tire with air if needed.

9. Remove the roof rack or ski box

This is just like leaving the windows open, but worse. Even if the roof rack is empty, it increases drag and makes your car use more fuel, while a big ski box is like having another car strapped to your roof. The latest roof racks and ski boxes are quick and easy to fit and remove, so make the effort to stow them away when not using them.

10. Don’t carry unnecessary weight

Just like your body, your car needs more fuel to move around more weight. So, just as you wouldn’t wear a heavy backpack unless you had to, don’t haul heavy stuff around in the trunk of your car unless you need it. Ironically, the heavier the item (the usual culprits are golf clubs and tools), the less likely you are to bother taking it out and the greater the effect it will have on your fuel consumption.

Sources: Forbes.com, GasBuddy, Telegraph.com

Bradley Airport’s Expansion Plans Underway

Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, CT is known as an “easy in and out” airport among business and leisure travelers in the region, but the small and manageable reputation of Bradley may be changing in the coming years, as they recently announced plans to transform the mid-sized airport into a major New England hub.

“It’s so much more convenient to fly out of Bradley than having to go to New York or Boston if you want to go anywhere direct,” say Roberta O’Brien, of Rocky Hill. But Bradley travelers may be in for some temporary bumps, as officials unveiled a $1.4 billion expansion plan that could make Bradley competitive with the Logan’s and the Kennedy’s of the northeast. From the terminals, to the car rental lot, to the parking garage and the roads that lead to the airport, Bradley will be under construction over the next 20 years.

The expansion, in part, is taking place due to population growth in the region. “There are 4.4 million people that live within our market area so if we can keep developing the airline services here, we’ll keep bringing passengers to the airport,” said Kevin Dillon, executive director at Bradley International Airport.

“I do believe this airport could be a 10 million passenger airport so when you start to talk about the activity of that level you really need to take a hard look at the infrastructure,” Dillon said.

Some of the biggest visible changes at the new Bradley will be at the terminals. The plan is to have Terminal B connect with Terminal A. Also, a new rental car lot will be built on the property, eliminating the shuttles.

Construction under way

Locals and air travelers in and out of Bradley will already see Bradley’s plans underway, as construction has begun on the Route 20 connector road.

According the official Bradley International Airport website, the Connecticut Airport Authority is beginning the reconstruction and realignment of the main airport entrance roadway, Route 20 and Schoephoester Road. The work will involve the realignment of Schoephoester Road along with a portion of the airport’s lower roadway system, as well as the construction of a modern roundabout.

The project will provide a new entrance to the airport from Route 20 and open up a 19-acre site for the future development of Bradley’s ground transportation center.

The construction will not interrupt access to the airport from the Route 20 connector, but there may be slight delays due to the shifting and reduction of lanes. Construction signs and variable message boards will be present along the roadway to alert motorists of any changes in traffic patterns.

The project will consist of six phases of work and is scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2018. Regular updates will be provided to the public during this time period.

When completed, this road expansion will improve traffic and make room for a new rental car lot.

International carriers like Aer Lingus have already broadened their flight offerings in and out of Bradley, and the expansion could make Bradley more attractive to other airlines and destinations.

“Any airport has to have the market to be attractive to the airlines and we certainly have that,” Dillon said.

While some travelers are welcoming the changes, others say they’ll miss the ease of navigating the smaller terminals. “I’d like to keep it on a smaller level. I like to fly out of Westchester just for the convenience of how small and how quick and easy it is to get in and out,” said Steve Confortini, of New Milford.

Bradley Airport officials say the goal is to keep the convenience level intact. The Federal Aviation Administration will need to approve this plan, but officials say they are confident it will be approved.

Source: Information courtesy of WFSB.com.

Airline Quality Has Improved, Study Shows

Despite some scary events and bad PR in the past year, U.S. airlines improved in overall quality last year, according to the annual Airline Quality Rating (AQR) report, released in May.

The 2018 AQR report by researchers at Wichita State University and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is a statistical study of major airline performance, objectively comparing airline quality.

The study indicates that as a whole, the 12 largest U.S. airlines improved their performance last year in three of the four categories tracked, making 2017 the best year for overall airline quality in the 28 years of the report. That said, the report’s authors caution the results do not necessarily mean commercial airline travel has dramatically improved in significant ways.

“The industry is improving, but there are still a lot of frustrated travelers out there,” says Brent Bowen, dean of aviation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and one of the report’s lead authors.

According to the Airline Quality Rating (AQR) website, the report is the most comprehensive study of performance and quality of the largest airlines in the United States. The rating is a multifactor examination of the airlines based on mishandled baggage, consumer complaints, on-time performance and involuntary denied boardings.

Overall airline industry findings

  • The 2017 score is the best AQR score in the 27-year history of the rating.
  • The industry AQR score has improved each year for the past three years (2015, 2016, and 2017).
  • Taking all 12 rated airlines together, the AQR score for the industry improved from a level of -0.95 in 2016 to -0.79 in 2017.
  • Improved performance was seen in three of the four areas tracked.

Specific areas of improvement

  • The industry mishandled baggage rate was better, decreasing from 2.70 per 1,000 passengers in 2016 to 2.46 per 1,000 passengers in 2017.
  • Involuntary denied boardings by the industry improved to 0.34 per 10,000 passengers in 2017 from 0.62 per 10,000 passengers in 2016.
  • The consumer complaint rate across the industry declined to 1.35 per 100,000 passengers in 2017 from 1.52 per 100,000 passengers in 2016.
  • The 10% decrease in the rate of consumer complaints in 2017 suggests that improved performance in important areas to consumers has been noticed.
  • Of the 11,570 complaints registered with the DOT regarding all U.S. domestic carriers, 74% were for flight problems, baggage problems, reservation, ticketing and boarding issues, or customer service problems.

Specific airline results

  • Nine airlines showed improvement in AQR scores in 2017: American, ExpressJet, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue, SkyWest, Southwest, Spirit and United.
  • Frontier had the largest improvement in their AQR score in 2017.
  • Three airlines—Alaska, Delta and Virgin America—all declined in their 2017 AQR score from the previous year. Virgin America had the largest decline in AQR score for 2017.

Areas for improvement

As an industry, the AQR criteria show that on-time arrival percentage was down (80.2% in 2017 compared to 81.4% in 2016).

Other areas where airlines could improve, according to author Bowen and other researchers, include a lack of transparency in airfares, annoyances like cramped seats and extra fees for almost everything, as examples of elements of airline travel that are wearing on travelers despite the performance improvements.

Source: Airline Quality Rating (AQR) report

Best and Worst Airports in the U.S.

If you fly regularly for business or pleasure, you’re aware of the downside of air travel: the long lines, delayed flights, and security checks, to name a few. Money® Magazine surveyed 80 of the country’s most traveled commercial airports to determine which airports provided a more enjoyable traveling experience. How did the New York area airports rank? Keep reading to find out.

It’s no surprise that getting through the airport is generally the least favorite part of any trip. While every airport experiences delays, cancellations and other inconveniences, some airports are better than others. To find the best airports in the U.S.—those that reduce travel headaches rather than creating them—Money analyzed 80 of the nation’s top airports and ranked them based on customer experience scores from myriad sources, including J.D. Power, reader reviews from Travel + Leisure, on-time arrival rates, security delays, and traveler amenities such as shops and restaurants.

New York’s airports rank last

Below is their list of the top 15 U.S. airports. But first, tri-stare area travelers should be aware that New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia Airport and Newark International Airport ranked at the absolute bottom of Money® Magazine’s survey.

New York’s airports’ unfortunate ranking:

78. John F. Kennedy International Airport

79. Newark Liberty International Airport

80. LaGuardia Airport

LaGuardia came in last among large airports evaluated by J.D. Power, and its facilities score was the absolute lowest among all airports rated. Newark came in last among the mega airports—and its facilities score was the second-lowest overall. All three airports had some of the lowest customer ratings from Travel + Leisure readers.

Airport facilities a key factor

“The most important factor in airport satisfaction is the terminal facilities themselves—that’s the building, how clean it is, what condition it’s in, the bathrooms,” says Mike Taylor, who leads J.D. Power’s airport research. “If anything is worn, it’s always considered unclean—whether it’s antiseptic or not,” Taylor says. Part of the reason LaGuardia gets such horrible scores may be that the airport is stalling on small maintenance projects while it undergoes a major renovation, Taylor says: “It just isn’t worth re-carpeting or repainting it, because it’s going to be torn down in 18 months.”

Traffic and access also important

Access to the airport is another key factor in airport satisfaction, according to Taylor, and another area where New York falls short. “It’s very hard to get around the New York area; very hard to get to the airport itself,” Taylor says.

Another issue against New York’s airports is the sheer volume of travelers in the greater tri-state area. Last year, New York’s three airports saw more than 132 million passengers, according to data collected by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey—compared to just over 10 million at Money® Magazine’s top airport, John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, Calif.

New York airports low for on-time departures

The high volume of travelers means more road traffic, more air traffic congestion, and poorer on-time performance. JFK, LaGuardia and Newark consistently ranked in the bottom half of North American airports for on-time departure performance during 2017, according to data collected from FlightStats.

At LaGuardia, for instance, only about 72 percent of the airport’s arriving flights were on time in 2017, according to data from the Department of Transportation. The average among U.S. airports was over 80 percent.

But there’s at least some good news. Renovations underway at both LaGuardia and Newark’s Terminal A should help improve travelers’ experience, says Taylor—and he’s hopeful that, in the future, New York airports’ performance will be much improved.

15 Best Airports in the U.S.

1. John Wayne Airport (SNA)
Santa Ana, Calif.

  • On-time arrivals (as a percent of total): 84.98%
  • Number of restaurants: 24

2. Portland International Airport (PDX)
Portland, Ore.

  • On-time arrivals: 84.46%
  • Number of restaurants: 32

3. Indianapolis International Airport (IND)
Indianapolis, Ind.

  • On-time arrivals: 81.18%
  • Number of restaurants: 25

4. Sacramento International Airport (SMF)
Sacramento, Calif.

  • On-time arrivals: 81.15%
  • Number of restaurants: 22

5. Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (BZN)
Belgrade, Mont.

  • On-time arrivals: 85.75%
  • Number of restaurants: 2

6. T.F. Green Airport (PVD)
Warwick, R.I.

  • On-time arrivals: 82.35%
  • Number of restaurants: 11

7. Tampa International Airport (TPA)
Tampa, Fla.

  • On-time arrivals: 80.44%
  • Number of restaurants: 40

8. Jacksonville International Airport (JAX)
Jacksonville, Fla.

  • On-time arrivals: 80.59%
  • Number of restaurants: 13

9. Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW)
Fort Myers, Fla.

  • On-time arrivals: 80.49%
  • Number of restaurants: 18

10. Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV)
Savannah, Ga.

  • On-time arrivals: 81.35%
  • Number of restaurants: 10

11. Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG)
Hebron, Ky.

  • On-time arrivals: 83.25%
  • Number of restaurants: 21

12. Long Beach Airport (LGB)
Long Beach, Calif.

  • On-time arrivals: 80.99%
  • Number of restaurants: 7

13. Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT)
Pittsburgh, Pa.

  • On-time arrivals: 82.13%
  • Number of restaurants: 33

14. Manchester-Boston Regional Airport (MHT)
Manchester, N.H.

  • On-time arrivals: 82.63%
  • Number of restaurants: 10

15. Portland International Jetport (PWM)
Portland, Maine

  • On-time arrivals: 78.94%
  • Number of restaurants: 5

Source: Time.com/money