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Business Travel Travel News

Countdown to the REAL ID ACT

One year from today, the REAL ID ACT will go into effect, changing the required identification needed to board an airplane. A year goes by fast. To avoid future problems, here’s what you should anticipate for the October 1, 2020 deadline.

What do I need to know about the REAL ID ACT? 

Once the REAL ID ACT goes into effect, only the correct identification will allow entry into federal buildings, including federally regulated commercial aircrafts. Though passports will be accepted, driver’s licenses and identification cards need to be updated to include scannable microchip technology. It is the responsibility of the individual state to implement these changes. If the traveler does not have a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license, they will need an additional form of approved identification, or they will not be allowed to board the aircraft. 

For years the REAL ID ACT has been surrounded by confusion and chaos. In January 2018, the government as a whole delayed the enactment of the REAL ID ACT until October 1, 2020. The purpose was to give all 50 states adequate time to prepare. Now that the 2020 deadline is approaching, it’s time to make sure your state is compliant and you have the appropriate identification. 

How do I know if my driver’s license is REAL ID compliant? 

Because every state is responsible for issuing REAL ID compliant identification, it’s best to check your state’s DMV website for up-to-date and correct information. With only a few straggling states, almost all are currently in compliance. 

There is also an easy way to tell if your license has the scannable technology. A star in the upper right corner indicates it is REAL ID compliant, though there are various versions of the star logo. 

real-id-act-starIf you do not have a star in the upper corner, you will need to get a new driver’s license. 

Another point to remember, if your state is compliant, and your license is due to expire before the October 1, 2020 deadline, the new id sent to you will have the RFID indicated star. 

Have additional questions? Read this information packet from the TSA.  You can also tweet them with specific questions regarding #check4thestar

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Business Travel Guides

The Definitive Guide To Choosing Between TSA Precheck, Global Entry or CLEAR

Do you know what’s worse than the long security lines at the airport? Standing in that long line, watching travelers with TSA Precheck or CLEAR breeze past and continue onto their gate. It’s like being stuck in gridlock rush hour traffic, as a commuter train speeds around the congestion and quickly disappears into the horizon. And whenever I encounter either, I quietly vow to be one of those lucky passengers or travelers next time.

Of course, what follows is diving into the different options available, and ultimately hitting a wall of choice paralysis. Which one do I choose? Which is the best option for my lifestyle and amount that I travel? Shouldn’t I be focusing on more important things, rather than researching expedited security screening services? Well, we’re putting an end to this indecision. We’ve completed a thorough investigation and laid it all out. Now, all you have to do is read these quick summaries and decide which service would benefit you the most.

 

TSA PreCheck

How it’s different

This short cut through the security line is run by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which regulates the overall security line. Because it’s regulated from within TSA, you may have previously received free TSA PreCheck status in the past. It works by bypassing the long security lines, into the designated TSA PreCheck lines. The lines are usually smaller and faster because you don’t remove shoes, belts, laptops, or liquids.

What’s the application process?

Users subscribing to TSA PreCheck fill out a short online form. Then, one must schedule an interview with a TSA agent to finish the evaluation process. The interview is typically conducted at a TSA office, meaning you will likely need to drive to your closest airport to conduct the interview. Fortunately, TSA frequently promotes events outside of the airport to complete the process.

Cost

A $85 non-refundable fee that covers a 5 year membership. (That comes out to just $17 a year.)

Upside

  • Because it runs through the existing TSA, it has been implemented thoroughly throughout the U.S. It is currently in more than 200 airports and 53 airlines.
  • They are already rolling out new advanced technology in select TSA PreCheck security lines, like facial recognition technology, and only using your driver’s license.

Downside

  • There have been recent criticisms that TSA PreCheck is potentially the slowest of these advanced security screenings. Largely due to TSA PreCheck being run by the government, it is more likely to be understaffed with long lines during high use times.
  • The $85 application fee is non-refundable, even if you are not accepted into the program.
  • Having TSA PreCheck eligibility status is included in Global Entry, so paying for it individually may not be the most effective use of a membership.

Who should sign up

Any frequent business traveler who travels within the US. It is the best deal out of all of the services, but does have some potential drawbacks.

 

Global Entry – Trusted Traveler Programs

How it’s different

This is the only service that focuses on international travel by reducing the time spent in customs lines. Run by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, its biggest advantage is it can be used in customs lines coming back into the U.S. Once flying back to the States and reaching customs, Global Entry members will pass to a designated kiosk, where they will scan their fingerprints and continue through the on-screen prompts.

Other Trusted Traveler Programs include Nexus and Sentri, expediting service between only the U.S. & Canada, and the U.S. and Mexico, respectively.

 Cost

$100 one-time fee for application. Includes a 5 year membership. (That comes out to $20 a year)

What’s the application process?

An online application, plus the fee. If your application is approved, an interview with a Customs & Border Protection agent will be scheduled at a Global Entry Enrollment Center. Your fingerprints will be taken, which will later be used as identification when you use a Global Entry kiosk at customs.

Upside

  • The best option for international travel.
  • Includes TSA PreCheck membership

Downside

  • The wait time for your interview can be lengthy, sometimes six months out.
  • If you are denied entry into the program, your $100 application fee will not be returned.

Who should sign up

International travelers. Even one or two trips to another country could justify the price.

 

CLEAR

How it’s different

CLEAR is the only private service, not developed through the government. As a standalone service, it addresses the long security lines from a different angle. Rather than reducing the wait time in existing security lines, they instead created their own line. It scans your identity with a fingerprint scan and an eye scan.

Cost

$179 per year (that’s $15 per month)

What’s the application process?

A simple registration form, followed by a 5 minute set-up at an enrollment center. You will need your driver’s license to continue. CLEAR can be used through airport security that same day.

Upside

  • Easiest application process
  • Does not require any additional identification through the line process, just your boarding pass.
  • Can be used concurrently with TSA Pre-check Eligibility. Use CLEAR to verify your identity, then skip ahead to the Precheck line.
  • CLEAR is branching out into other avenues, like sports stadiums, arenas, and more. Potentially, you could use it in your everyday life.

Downside

  • The most expensive option, by far.
  • Limited availability in airports, though it is growing. Currently it’s in only 30 airports in the US.

Who should sign up

A very frequent business traveler, who knows that CLEAR is available in the airports he/she frequents.

 

 

 

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Business Travel Travel Industry

What You Need To Know About TSA’s New Ban on Powders from International Flights

This past weekend, a specific ban started its enforcement on flights entering the United States. This time, the focus in on the amount of powders allowed in carry-on luggage. Impacting only international flights entering the United States, it will not affect domestic flight travel. Read more about the specifics of the new procedures below.

What’s happening?

Foreign airports with direct flights to the United States are requested to provide additional scrutiny to fliers carrying 12 ounces or more of powder in their carry-on luggage. Many international airlines have already placed heavier scrutiny on powders since an incident last July in Australia.

This is in addition to the increased security scanning procedures implemented in April; which included removing food, powders, liquids from carry-on bags while going through security checkpoints.

 

What might be included in this ban on powder?

American Airlines helped define exactly what is a powder in a recent press release – “Powder-like substances are described as fine dry particles produced by the grinding, crushing, or disintegration of a solid substance.”

If you’re like me, you’re probably racking your brain to think of what common powders might even find their way into luggage. Turns out, there’s quite a few items, like: cosmetics, coffee, spices, baby powder, and protein mixes. Fortunately, baby formula, medicine, and cremated human remains are exempt from these secondary screenings. Gunpowder remains prohibited from all checked and carry-on luggage.

 

If you need to travel with 12 ounces or more of a powdery substance

It won’t necessarily be confiscated. Likely, it will be requested that you remove the powder, and it will go through an additional screening. If the powder is still unidentifiable, it may then need to be discarded. You can also check you baggage with the large amount of powder to avoid this situation completely.

 

Read more:

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Travel Industry Travel News

New Security Screenings For All U.S.-Bound Flights

New airport security screening procedures were implemented late last week due to a new announcement from the TSA. Flights entering the United States will now require stricter passenger screening, for both U.S. citizens and foreign travelers. Only airports which serve as the last point of departure to the United States need to make these updates.  This will affect approximately 2,100 flights entering the U.S. every day.

This measure replaces earlier security rules, banning travelers from certain countries from bringing laptops or large electronics into the plane cabin with them. Each airline is adjusting to the new procedures in slightly different ways.  As details and procedures are likely to change, here’s what we know so far.

The bottom line

Most importantly, allow enough time in your schedule for interviews, questionnaires, or unexpected hang ups. Though the hope is that more extensive screenings will not increase wait times, most airlines are recommending to arrive at least three hours early to the gate. And of course, have your documentation and electronics readily available.

What new procedures travelers can expect

  • Stricter passenger screenings and interviews, even for American citizens
  • Inspection of personal electronic devices
  • Not all measures will be visible to the public, though passengers may see more bomb-sniffing dogs

How each airline is dealing with the new security screenings

  • Delta Air Lines– Travelers should arrive to the airport three hours before their flight. They should head straight to their gate where they may go through additional screening.
  • Air France– They’ve developed a questionnaire given to “100 percent” of the travelers. Have begun conducting these interviews at Paris Orly Airport. On Nov 2, the same procedures will be implemented at Charles de Gaulle Airport.
  • Emirates– Will be conducting ‘pre-screening interviews’ at their check-in counters for travelers flying out of Dubai. The interviews will be conducted at the boarding gates for transit and transfer fliers. Those flying through their headquarters, Dubai International Airport, should allow extra time to check in and board.
  • Cathy Pacific– Have suspended their self-drop baggage services. Those heading to the U.S. will instead be subject to a short security interview when checking in their luggage. Travelers without checked baggage will undergo a similar interview at the gate.
  • EgyptAir- Their new measures include more detailed searches of passengers, luggage and interviews.
  • Lufthansa Group (including Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Swiss, Eurowings and others)- Travelers may face short interviews at check-in, or documentation check at their gate.
  • Royal Jordanian– They will begin these new security procedures in mid-January, after being granted a request for delay in implementation.

We will continue to update this blog as more information and procedures are implemented. If you are a Christopherson client with additional questions, feel free to reach out to your account manager.

Christopherson Business Travel is a corporate travel management company with more than 60 years of experience. Known for our proprietary travel technology and dedicated account management, we’re always working to make business travel easier. Please contact us to learn more about our approach and corporate travel packages

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Travel Industry Travel News

Additional Security Measures for International Flights to the U.S.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced today that flights arriving to the United States will undergo additional security measures. This is response to increased threats on commercial aviation as a whole. Starting later this week, passengers flying to the United States should expect additional security measures.

These security measures include:

  • Enhanced screening of travelers
  • Increased security screening of aircraft and passenger areas>
  • Heightened screening of electronic devices that are larger than a standard smartphone
  • Being prepared to remove these devices from protective cases or packaging if asked.
  • Using additional technology
  • Expanding canine security
  • Establishing additional pre-clearance locations

This heightened change effects 105 countries and approximately 280 airports that serve as the last points of departure to the United States. This affects 180 airlines, an average of 2,100 flights per day and 325,000 daily passengers on average. The DHS and TSA will be working with airline stakeholders over the next weeks and months to ensure these security protocols are fully implemented. Stakeholders that fail to adopt these requirements within certain time frames will run the risk of additional security restrictions being imposed.

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Guides Travel Industry

Is Your Driver’s License Valid For Air Travel?

The REAL ID Act, originally passed by Congress in 2005, has steadily been updating the identification processes in our nation. Already standardizing protocol in federal buildings, nuclear power plants and other facilities, the act is entering its final stages. The final focus in on passenger identification on commercial airlines, which is secured by the Department of Homeland Security. Depending on which state you live in, your driver’s license may soon not be valid for domestic air travel.

TSA protocols for valid identification will be updating

Surprisingly, many frequent travelers are unaware of the impending identification changes coming to commercial air travel. It has been the responsibility of the individual states to update their driver’s license to be REAL ID compliant. Even with detailed timelines and deadlines given, many states are still in flux.

Read our inforgaphic below to see if your state is compliant to the impending REAL ID Act changes.

real-id-act

Have more questions? Read our blog on the Real ID Act.

Christopherson Business Travel takes the frustration out of travel management for busy companies. Learn how our travel technology and consultative account management does just that by scheduling a demo today.

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Travel News

TSA Readily Available on Social Media

Need a quick answer about airport security or carry-on luggage, but don’t have the time to read through government websites? Your wishes have been granted! The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is now available via Facebook Messenger and Twitter! These two social media profiles use the name ‘Ask TSA’, which is separate from their main TSA profiles. While Ask TSA has been available on Twitter since September 2015, they joined Facebook Messenger on July 7. Though not a 24-hour service, their Facebook Messenger contact hours are extensive. They are available from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET on weekdays, and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends and holidays.

Ask TSA is eager to assist you with any questions identification through security lines, lost items, or acceptable carry-on items. You can even take a picture of the item in question, and tweet or Facebook message them for the answer.

Ask TSA Contact Information-

Their Twitter handle for customer questions is @AskTSA

Their Facebook Messanger can be accessed through their Ask TSA Facebook page. Once on the page, click the ‘send message’ button to begin correspondence.

At Christopherson Business Travel, we understand the value of having a support team on call when things go wrong. That’s why we provide our clients 24-hour customer service.  When something goes wrong, as it often does with travel itineraries, we are always here to help find the best solution. Contact us to learn more about our customer service and additional benefits.

 

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Travel News

What Else Is Causing The Long TSA Lines?

One of the biggest frustrations in life is waiting in a long security line at the airport, especially when the boarding time of your flight is starting soon! Travelers have been given ample warning from airports and TSA (Transportation Security Administration) to allow for more time to get through the growing airport security lines.
According to a recent article in The Washington Post, TSA is hiring 768 new airport screeners by the end of June.  They will also be moving 2,784 part-time employees to full time to accommodate for the anticipated high volume summer ahead. It is clear that TSA is doing all they can to elevate the situation, and it’s still not enough. Even with these upcoming changes, they still recommend arriving at the airport three hours before your flight time.

But is TSA the only culprit in the increasingly long lines? Two senators, Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) cite another point of contention; the additional carry-on baggage we bring through security with us. They are urging all airlines to eliminate the fees for checking baggage for this summer. They cite the TSA in saying checked baggage fees may add an addition 27 percent toward passenger checkpoints, increasing the time needed to get through security.  It’s an interesting thought, isn’t it?I don’t know about you, but I would rather pack lighter and carry a bag with me, than pay additionally out-of-pocket to have my bags checked.  And a big time suck of the security line process is the multi-bin organization, waiting of new bins to be wheeled out, and claiming enough conveyer belt room for all your stuff. The entire security line environment may be different if we weren’t lugging around additional bags in an effort to save a few well deserved bucks.

Read Next: The Ultimate Airport Time-Saver

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Business Travel Travel Tips

When Are The Peak Hours For Airport Security Lines?

Airports across the country are seeing longer wait times in the TSA security lines recently, due to a deficit of TSA screening employees and an increase in travelers. The number of travelers are only expected to increase as well, as we move into the busier summer months. In the last few years, there has been a 10 percent decrease in employees, recently culminating in longer security wait times. Though Congress recently approved hiring more screening agents, it may take until the end of June for these 500 new employees to be hired and trained. Until then, airports and the TSA are recommending travelers to arrive two to three hours before their flights and avoid peak hours for flying.

So, when are these peak times for airports?

  • Weekends are the busiest travel days. This includes Fridays during the summer months.
  • Think of airports as similar to highways. They tend to be busiest on weekdays in the early morning and early afternoon, then again in early evening.
  • Tuesday and Wednesday are usually slower.
  • Mid-day is the slowest time all week.
  • Peak hours may differ based on city. For example, port cities like Miami see a burst midday on Saturdays as vacationers on cruise ships return and head to the airport.

On the day of your trip, investigate the current traffic at your local airport. The TSA website  lets you know of the current wait time at any airport in the U.S. Or try out the MiFlight app to stay updated on wait times.

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Business Travel Travel Industry Travel News

TSA Pre? Update

TSA Pre?™ has recently undergone some positive changes. Due to complaints regarding slow lines, not enough personnel coverage, and too many non-Pre? members using the Pre? lanes, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has reduced the number of non-Pre? passengers using those lanes by 25%.

However, this doesn’t mean it is smooth sailing for TSA Pre? members. In 2014, Congress reduced funding for TSA by $530 million and the agency had to cut 3,500 screening positions. TSA’s reduction in personnel leaves TSA employees covering both the Pre? and the regular lines. This also allows for low risk travelers to go through the TSA Pre? lanes for faster screening.

Travelers may not like this, but TSA hopes the experience will encourage non-members to apply for the expedited service. In fact, TSA is hiring a private contractor to recruit people into the trusted-traveler status. In 2015, a marketing campaign will begin to recruit members and TSA will offer onsite sign-ups at business locations.

Currently 598,184 people are enrolled in PreCheck and more than 1.3 million through Global Entry. With the new campaign, TSA could sign up some 10 million people. In theory, more people, more money, more personnel, means faster screening. I least I hope so.

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Business Travel Travel Industry

Congratulations to GBTA’s Mike McCormick

GBTA Executive Director Mike McCormick has been reappointed to the TSA's Aviation Security Advisory Committee.
GBTA Executive Director Mike McCormick has been reappointed to the TSA’s Aviation Security Advisory Committee.

Christopherson Business Travel is a long time member and sponsor of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) and we congratulate the GBTA Executive Director and COO, Mike McCormick on his reappointment to the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Aviation Security Advisory Committee (ASAC).

It is vital for the TSA to hear from the business travel industry and McCormick has done an outstanding job of representing our sector during his first term and we look forward to his continued involvement on behalf of our industry.

ASAC is TSA’s sole Federal advisory committee that gives the agency recommendations for improving aviation security methods, equipment and procedures. ASAC was established in 1989 in the wake of the crash of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.