With New York Sidelined, Now is the Time to Re…

With New York Sidelined, Now is the Time to Renew (or Apply For) Global Entry:

Global Entry kiosks seen at HOU's international terminal unveiling in 2014. Photo- JL Johnson

Global Entry kiosks seen at HOU’s international terminal unveiling in 2014

The State of New York has recently reminded all of us that it is time to either get or renew your Global Entry… and a bit at their expense. No, this isn’t a call to be opportunistic. Well, maybe a little. Hear me out…

Recently, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that New York residents are being cut off from Global Entry (both applications and renewals). “New York residents will no longer be eligible to apply for or renew membership in CBP Trusted Traveler Programs and CBP will cancel all pending Trusted Traveler Program applications submitted by residents of New York,”according to a February 6th CBP press release. “New York residents who are currently enrolled in Trusted Travel Programs will retain their benefits until their memberships expire.”

The CBP will not comment on the volume of enrollments by state, but it is safe to assume that the most populated city in the U.S., which also happens to be the world’s financial center, makes up a sizable chunk. With New York enrollment activity being placed on pause, due to political nonsense, now is the time to take advantage of short lines. Yes, this is an advantage to the rest of us. But by shifting our applications forward, we can clear the way for when New York is again approved. Short lines for us now, and a slightly better experience for our New York friends, when their pent-up demand rolls in. Win-win for everyone! Sort of… given the situation anyhow.

As a known-traveler you won't need to use the recombobulation area just past the TSA checkpoint at Milwaukee's General Mitchell airport.

As a known-traveler you won’t need to use the recombobulation area just past the TSA checkpoint at Milwaukee’s General Mitchell airport. – Photo: Lynn Friedman (Creative Commons)

Why Global Entry? It’s better than TSA Pre✓

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Global Entry (GE) is one of a few trusted/known traveler programs which offers perks such as TSA Pre✓

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. “But I already regularly get Pre✓

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without applying!” This is a totally valid argument: Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? In 2014, I wrote about why applying for Pre✓

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is a waste of time and money. And I stand by that to this day. Pre✓

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is $85 for a five-year membership. GE is an extra $15 (just $3 more per year) and you get Pre✓

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plus expedited passage through U.S. customs. This expedited entry works not just at airports, but also border crossings, and sea ports of entry… if boats are your sort of thing (#BoatReporter).

Even if you don’t have plans to travel abroad, wouldn’t it be nice to have Global Entry setup in the event an opportunity presented itself? I mentioned above that Global Entry works for border crossings as well. I was surprised how often I ended up using my membership to re-enter the U.S. from quick trips to Canada and Mexico. For me, I’d pay $15 to skip the line with just one crossing, so the extra cost has more than paid for itself in my first four years of membership.

Real ID Poster for Washington D.C. - Image: TSA

Real ID Poster for Washington D.C. – Image: TSA

It’s REAL ID-compliant:

Global Entry comes with a government-issued REAL ID card, something Pre✓

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doesn’t offer. Don’t know what a REAL ID is? Take a moment to find your driver’s license or state-issued ID. Is there a star near the upper right-hand corner? If yes, you’re good. Washington state folks, you guys are special [gosh darn right we are –David]. If your license reads “Enhanced” you’ve made the cut. If neither applies, you’re going to need to use an alternate ID or obtain a REAL ID.

The TSA claims that travelers without a REAL ID will not be approved through screening starting October 1, 2020. The federal law requiring that states issue REAL IDs to “preserve national security” was passed in 2005. Amazingly, some states and territories have taken over fifteen years to comply.

And while most states are compliant today, that doesn’t mean already-issued licenses will work. My home state of Missouri, for example, only recently implemented a voluntary REAL ID license option. Here in the “Show-Me State,” anyone who received their license prior to March 25, 2019 has a non-compliant ID. And if they want to fly on a plane and don’t have an alternative, they will need to visit the DMV less than two years after renewing their six-year license to specifically request a REAL ID-compliant version.

SPOILER ALERT: Missourians (and others) are going to cause major headaches at airport screening points across the nation this October if TSA stands by their highly-delayed deadline.

Global Entry. Image: Josh Denmark / US Customs & Boarder Patrol.

Global Entry – Image: Josh Denmark | US Customs & Boarder Patrol

Applying for Global Entry

So, have I convinced you? Great! Here’s the deal: Applicants fill out an online form, confirm a bunch of personal data, pay $100, consent to a rigorous multi-agency background check, willingly hand over their biometric data, and are subject to an in-person interview with a CBP agent. When reading it all together like that, it might seem a bit overwhelming, but trust me — it is not a difficult process. Once that’s done (and assuming you pass – most do) you’ll get a shiny new ID along with the coveted KTN or known traveler number.

Renewing Global Entry

Current Global Entry members can apply for renewal up to one year before their expiration date, and there is no penalty for applying early. If approved, five additional years are bolted onto your current expiration date. Remember your GOES login detail (or even what that is)? No? Good! That system is dead and you have to start from scratch. Click here, then click login and agree to the government’s crazy terms by clicking consent and continue. Here you’ll be informed that GOES is out, and Login.Gov is in. Create a new login and the process is familiar and intuitive from there out.

Get through security faster = you have more time to look at your airplane at the gate. United doesn't fly the 747 anyhow, but bet you wished you spent more time just staring at them!

Get through security faster = you have more time to look at your airplane at the gate. United doesn’t fly the 747 anyhow, but bet you wished you spent more time just staring at them!

I applied for renewal and received my new card 8 days later

Apparently not all renewals require an in-person interview. How did I find out? I applied for renewal on a Friday night, received an approval e-mail Monday, and my new card was in my mailbox that Saturday. Cool!

Conclusion

If you travel even semi-regularly, Global Entry is the way to go, even if only to receive the Pre✓

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benefit. And the convenience of Global Entry when arriving back to The States even just once over five years is easily worth the extra $15. And with what happened in New York, who knows if it might happen elsewhere. Take advantage of the short lines now!

NOTE: This is not a promoted post, I just really believe this is such a great product. Additionally, some “premium” credit cards, the ones with crazy high annual fees, and names involving precious metals and gems often cover Global Entry fees. We don’t get any kickbacks from the cards either, just trying to save you a few bucks. 

The post With New York Sidelined, Now is the Time to Renew (or Apply For) Global Entry appeared first on AirlineReporter.

February 25, 2020 at 09:46PM Source: https://ift.tt/2Ex2ezu

Aviation History: What PlaneSpotting Yielded J…

Aviation History: What PlaneSpotting Yielded Just a Decade Ago:

N755NW, a 42-year old NWA DC-9-41 Blasts Out of STL.

N755NW, a 42-year old NWA DC-9-41 Blasts Out of STL

Happy New Year! Heck, happy new decade while we’re at it.

With the closing of each year I invest a considerable amount of time in reflection before setting my goals and aspirations for the future. A perennial resolution I have set (and then catastrophically failed to meet) has been to make sense of the ~150K+ PlaneSpotting photos I have amassed since diving into the hobby over the summer of 2009.

While trying to determine what goal – if any – I would set around this, an intriguing question dawned on me. How has PlaneSpotting changed in the past decade? Sure, we didn’t have JetTip, ADSBexchange, or FlightRadar24 to allow for surgical, dare I say lazy, spotting. We just had to show up, maybe listen to ATC, and see what the day would bring. But how has what we might see changed?

Well, I have photographic proof of what aviation looked like at a number of airports over the course of 2010. In retrospect, it was a good travel and spotting year for me. What if, perhaps, I set a mini goal to at the very least look at every photo shot over that one year and highlight particular items of note? I spent a number of hours over the past weekend doing just that. One clear difference? My skill and equipment have come a long way over the past decade! But I digress.

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Click through to join me for a stroll down AvGeek memory lane for a year which proved transformational to the AvGeek world.

Delta and Northwest

N3734B, a 737-800 departs Memphis in October, 2010.

N3734B, a 737-800 departs Memphis in October 2010

Delta was still transitioning away from their early 2000s-era ‘Colors in Motion’ livery. Is that name not familiar? This paint attracted a lot of undue criticism and silly nicknames such as Wavy Gravy, Flowing Fabric, and my personal favorite: Deltaflot, due to the tail’s similarity to that of Russian carrier Aeroflot.

N929DL, an MD-88 lands at Dulles in October, 2010.
N940DL, an MD-88 departs St. Louis in September, 2010.

N755NC, DC-9-50 and former NW bird lands in Kansas City, November 2010 wearing updated livery.

N755NC, DC-9-50 and former NW bird lands in Kansas City in November 2010 wearing updated livery

The current-day standard Onward and Upward livery had been announced in 2007 but was slow to roll out. So three years later there still existed a great deal of limited-time-only-liveried Delta birds.

N924XJ, a Northwest CR-9 accompanies some Delta birds in Denver.

N924XJ, a Northwest CRJ-900 accompanies some Delta birds in Denver

The Gem of Georgia was also hard at work integrating Northwest into their operations. Despite the merger closing in late 2008, opportunities to spot Northwest’s various liveries and cool retro planes were still common. I would respectfully submit that the best spotting of 2010 was between the combined Delta and Northwest fleets.

N763NW, a DC-9-41 lines up at St. Louis in September, 2010.

N763NW, a DC-9-41 lines up at St. Louis in September, 2010.

N826AY, a Northwest CR-2 climbs out of Memphis in style one afternoon in October, 2010.

N826AY, a Northwest CR-2 climbs out of Memphis in style one afternoon in October, 2010

American’s Mad Dogs shined with pride

N76200, an MD-83 pauses at the threshold of Kansas City's 19-L for a quick photo in November of 2010.

N76200, an MD-83 pauses at the threshold of Kansas City’s Runway 19L for a quick photo in November of 2010

There’s not much to report on the PlaneSpotting front for American Airlines in 2010. The ubiquitous Super-80s lived up their name: They were super-everywhere and you’d be hard pressed to visit any airport of significance and not see at least a few. Then, just as in 2019, eagle-eyed plane spotters could still find MD-80s carried over from the TWA buyout in 2001. Sadly, the American Airlines (former TWA) overhaul base at Kansas City International pictured above would be fully shuttered in September 2010.

When it was shined up, that bare metal livery could sure put otherwise great liveries to shame. This photo snapped in St. Louis, September 2010.

When it was shined up, that bare metal livery could sure put otherwise great liveries to shame. This photo was snapped in St. Louis, September 2010.

Continental and United

N75433, a shiny, less than two-years old Boeing 737-900ER spotted in Houston, December, 2010.

N75433, a shiny, less-than-two-years-old Boeing 737-900ER spotted in Houston, December 2010.

N14628, a short and stubby Boeing 737-500 spotted in Houston, December 2010.

N14628, a short and stubby Boeing 737-500 spotted in Houston, December 2010

Isn’t it refreshing to see the word Continental on the Continental livery? Folks will recall that 2010 was the year Continental would be absorbed by United. Much to the chagrin of many a Saul Bass tulip fan, United decided to co-opt Continental’s paint scheme. United swiftly rebranded Continental’s planes, in many cases leaving a bright and shiny new name patch on otherwise weathered paint. It wasn’t a great look.

N768UA, a Boeing 777-200 spotted at Dulles in October, 2010. Complete with mismatched cowling!

N768UA, a Boeing 777-200 spotted at Dulles in October 2010. Complete with mismatched cowling!

N781UA, a Boeing 777-200 in "battle ship" livery spotted at Dulles in October, 2010.

N781UA, a Boeing 777-200 in “battleship” livery spotted at Dulles in October 2010

While Continental’s branding was eliminated with shocking speed, United took their sweet time in repainting their own planes. At the time, their fleet sported at least two legacy liveries: The Blue Tulip, and an older predecessor which would affectionately be referred to as the Battleship livery. Both paint schemes, we should note, incorporated different versions of the Saul Bass tulip. Many reasonably speculated that between the hasty and sloppy process by which Continental’s name was simply painted over, and the slow conversion of United’s fleet, a new livery had to be on the horizon. Who would have thought that it would take almost ten years to come up with something, and that this “something” would be nothing more than a color adjustment?

Republic’s Great Gamble

N818MD, an Embraer ERJ-170 seen at Kansas City in November, 2010.

N818MD, an Embraer ERJ-170 seen at Kansas City in November 2010

N170HQ, an Embraer ERJ-190 seen landing at Kansas City International in November, 2010.

N170HQ, an Embraer ERJ-190 seen landing at Kansas City International in November 2010

In 2009, at the hands of ambitious CEO Bryan Bedford, Republic Airways decided they had what it took to transition from regional operator to full-fledged big-time airline (retroactive spoiler alert – they didn’t.) Republic scooped up Frontier and Midwest for $108 and $75 million, respectively. By 2010, the beautiful and iconic Midwest livery adorned Republic-owned (and operated) Embraer E-Jets. Midwest was essentially dead, with the last 717 flight operated by Midwest employees occurring in 2009.

N175HQ, an Embraer ERJ-190 preparing to leave Kansas City International in November, 2010.

N175HQ, an Embraer ERJ-190 preparing to leave Kansas City International in November 2010

2010 would be the year Republic broke their commitment to keep the Midwest and Frontier brands distinct. Midwest would ultimately consolidate into Frontier. The joint airline was eventually sold off for a paltry $36 million in cash plus assumption of $109 million in debt. One great airline, significant combined market-share, hundreds of jobs, and $38 million in wealth would vaporize at the hands of Republic. But at least we got to see the Midwest and Frontier liveries on Embraers, albeit briefly.

Freight airlines had cool stuff in their fleets too

N429FE, an Airbus A310 named Conner, spotted in Memphis, October, 2010.

N429FE, an Airbus A310 named Conner, spotted in Memphis, October 2010

N267FE, a Boeing 727 named Jolene spotted in Memphis, October, 2010.

N267FE, a Boeing 727 named Jolene, spotted in Memphis, October 2010

FedEx still operated the smoky, loud, and sexy Boeing 727s. Additionally, a few Airbus A310s remained in the fleet. Remember those? They were the stubby small younger brother of the A300. While their final A310 was retired at the start of this year, the A300s still run to this day. Spot them while you still can; the 68 or so remaining are due to be fully retired by some point in 2021.

N713AA, a Boeing 727 seen in St. Louis, September, 2010.

N713AA, a Boeing 727 seen in St. Louis, September 2010

Speaking of the 727, let’s not forget Capital Cargo International. Despite a tiny slice of Cappy’s 11-plane fleet being 727s, they sure got around. This carrier eventually merged with ATI and with that, their 727s were allowed to retire.

Many of 2010’s airlines no longer exist

N937SP, a Pilatus PC-12 spotted in Memphis, October, 2010.

N937SP, a Pilatus PC-12 spotted in Memphis, October 2010

Of all the three essential air service (EAS) carriers I sampled in 2010, Seaport was my favorite. They flew Pilatus PC-12s which were unique and comfortable given their small size. Additionally, what AvGeek could pass up MCI-HRO-MEM routing for $155 one-way? Sadly Seaport ceased operations in September 2016.

N240GL, a Beech 1900D in Kansas City, March 2010.

N240GL, a Beech 1900D in Kansas City, March 2010

Flying Great Lakes was not only my first EAS experience, but the first propeller-driven aircraft I was old enough to remember flying. And dang it was fun. They loved their Beech 1900s and Embraer EMB-120s. The Cheyenne, WY-based airline concluded service in March 2018.

N991AT, a Boeing 717 spotted in St Louis, September 2010.

N991AT, a Boeing 717 spotted in St Louis, September 2010

The rebirth of ValuJet was not only alive but thriving, thanks in part due to their (then) shiny new fleet of MD-95, er, Boeing 717s. As we know, AirTran was destined to ultimately pair up with Southwest, but in 2010 they weren’t quite done giving everyone a run for their money.

BONUS: So Long, Citrus! A Look at AirTran’s History and Final Flight Experience

N264AV, an Airbus A320 spotted in St. Louis in September, 2010.

N264AV, an Airbus A320 spotted in St. Louis in September 2010

USA3000 is one of the airlines that got away from me. And by that, I mean I fully intended to try them out but they stopped flying before I could get around to it. While they existed for over a decade, they had trouble growing and just couldn’t make it work. Their two planes went to Viva Columbia.

N202SR, a Saab 340B at Dulles in October, 2010.

N202SR, a Saab 340B at Dulles in October 2010

Aside from a delightfully appealing house livery, perhaps the best thing Colgan will be remembered for is the devastating crash of Continental Flight 3407. There is a silver lining here. The investigation and resulting regulations (passed in 2010) directly led to incredible advancements in aviation safety.

Planes destined to become museum pieces were still flying

N300SW, the first Boeing 737-300 named Spirit of Kittyhawk. It is now a museum piece.

N300SW, the first Boeing 737-300 named Spirit of Kittyhawk seen in Kansas City, November 2010. It is now a museum piece.

BONUS: I proposed to my AvGeek wife under this plane

N300SW was the first 737-300 delivered by Boeing. It went to launch customer Southwest Airlines. This plane and one other were assigned nose decals dubbing them each the Spirit of Kittyhawk. It is now at the Frontiers of Flight Museum near Dallas Love Field. Visitors to the museum can go onboard to learn about Southwest’s history and even see one of Herb Kelleher’s Harley Davidson motorcycles in the back.

N675MC, a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-50. It is now a museum piece.

N675MC, a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-50 seen in Memphis, December 2010. It is now a museum piece.

BONUS: Exploring the Newly Renovated Delta Flight Museum

N675MC is now a part of the Delta Museum collection in Atlanta, Georgia.

Other cool things you might have seen while PlaneSpotting in 2010






Summary

Thanks for joining me for a photo tour of PlaneSpotting in 2010. Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different? This list certainly is not comprehensive. However it does represent the items which stuck out to me as being unique or different compared to present-day.

We want to hear from you in the comments! Did I miss any 2010 items you are particularly nostalgic for? What are your favorite aviation memories from 2010? Would you like to see more of the retrospective type posts like this?

The post Aviation History: What PlaneSpotting Yielded Just a Decade Ago appeared first on AirlineReporter.

January 17, 2020 at 05:53AM Source: https://ift.tt/2Ex2ezu

Going For Gold: A Southwest Loyalist Tests Ame…

Going For Gold: A Southwest Loyalist Tests American Airlines Elite Status:

An American A-320 Departs LAS with Southwest in the background. - Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

An American Airlines A-320 departs LAS – Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

Regular AirlineReporter readers likely know by now that I am a Southwest Airlines loyalist. No, not every flight I take is with Southwest, but indeed, most are. There are many reasons for my loyalty which I think I have done well to document over the years. But with each piece discussing my loyalty to the LUV airline, I get comments, tweets, and emails urging me to take my loyalty elsewhere. The perennial argument typically focuses on a chance at upgrades, and, in general, feeling “rewarded.”

Any given year I typically fly just enough between my day job, leisure, and AirlineReporter gigs to renew Southwest A-List. Like so many of my frequently flying cohorts, by the time Q4 hits I’m often in panic mode, forecasting upcoming travel and ensuring I’m on track for status renewal. Because of this there typically isn’t much wiggle room for me to experiment with other carriers.

This year has unfolded differently. By September I was well ahead of schedule for renewal, with multiple upcoming trips sure to push me over the mark. Sadly A-List Preferred was not in reach. For the first time in years, I didn’t have to worry about renewal and had the opportunity to start revisiting some of the other carriers with more regularity. But was there any incentive to? And who might I focus on? My backup airline is typically Delta, my favorite of the legacies. I fly them a few times per year already so I likely wouldn’t learn anything new. What about United? As a Lifetime Titanium perk, Marriott Bonvoy granted me complimentary United Silver status. But United is my least favorite airline…

American Airlines Gold Trial Offer. - Image: American

American Airlines Gold Trial Offer. – Image: American

American Airlines Offers Gold Trial

I want to be upfront here- I do not believe American Airlines offering me a gold trial had anything to do with AirlineReporter. My AvGeek wife and fellow Southwest fan received the exact same invite a few weeks earlier. Additionally, these sorts of promos seem pretty standard as airlines flight for loyal flyers. The airline doesn’t share what the magic sauce is to trigger these, but I would venture to assume that our trip to fly the MD-80 one last time (in Main Cabin Extra) is what got us on their radar. Perhaps they assumed we were “premium” flyers ripe for poaching?

An American A-321 seen at golden hour. Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

An American A-321 seen at golden hour. Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

My offer was pretty straight forward. I would be granted provisional gold status for roughly three months. The promo included ten 500-mile upgrades just for registering. And, if I could meet an EQD and EQM challenge, I would unlock gold through 2020.

I haven’t paid American Airlines much attention in recent years. With some room to experiment with other airlines, I happily registered and started with booking a trip to San Francisco to cover the Exabeam conference.

Stay tuned for future pieces in the series as I reflect on my travels as I fly American Airlines as a gold elite member.

The post Going For Gold: A Southwest Loyalist Tests American Airlines Elite Status appeared first on AirlineReporter.

December 16, 2019 at 04:37PM Source: https://ift.tt/2Ex2ezu

Explaining Southwest’s Recent Rapid Rewards Up…

Explaining Southwest’s Recent Rapid Rewards Updates:

With the Rapid Rewards updates, earning free seats is easier for some but harder for others. - Photo: Southwest Airlines

With the Rapid Rewards updates, earning free seats is easier for some but harder for others. – Photo: Southwest Airlines

Last month Southwest Airlines announced three updates to their Rapid Rewards frequent flyer program. Typically when travel and hospitality rewards programs are updated, it results in a net-negative for consumers. These changes, however, are more of a mixed bag. The updates have also resulted in some confusion. Following the announcement, I received a handful of notes from folks asking for further explanation. It seems that when it comes to Southwest, I’m The Points G… Um, I guess we’ll go with Guru? [Editor: We also considered Gangsta, Gentlemen, Gladiator, Gossiper, Goat, Grumbler, Grizzly, and our favorite Geezer] 

Let’s explore the changes together…

Rapid Rewards updates- Points don't expire

Rapid Rewards points no longer expire. Good news! – Image: Southwest

Rapid Rewards Updates – Points No Longer Expire

Let’s start with the good news: Rapid Rewards points no longer expire after 24 months of account inactivity. I will admit this doesn’t mean much for folks who travel semi-regularly. However, this should come as a relief to those who have loyalty elsewhere but sometimes rely on Southwest as a backup. And for my 8-year old son who has had a Rapid Rewards membership since before he could walk, I no longer have to worry about preserving his points through surveys or other “qualifying activity.

This update does concern me, though. Generally accepted accounting principals (GAAP) dictate financial implications associated with unredeemed rewards. Accountants at the companies we love are typically required to treat rewards as obligations which can affect the balance sheet. Consider for a moment all of the points (obligations) that will be laying around unredeemed for years on end which would have otherwise expired. For this reason, it makes good business financial sense to allow points to expire. It is, essentially, debt forgiveness. I reached out to Ro Hawthorne, spokesperson for Southwest for his thoughts: “We have given consideration to the financial impact of no longer expiring points and believe the benefit of allowing our Members to keep their points far outweighs the benefit of expiring these points.

Our Texas friends often remind us not to look a gift horse in the mouth. Perhaps this is me over evaluating? I just worry about what Rapid Rewards updates might be on the horizon to counteract the financial burden of points that can last a lifetime. Speaking of lifetimes…  Since we can now horde points with no risk of expiration I was curious to see if, upon my own expiration, my points are transferable to my estate? Hawthorne says no. Bummer.

Rapid Rewards updates- Companion Pass gets harder to earn.

Rapid Rewards updates: Companion Pass gets slightly harder to earn. – Image: Southwest

Rapid Rewards Updates – Companion Pass Change

Today, Southwest flyers can earn the coveted Companion Pass by earning 110,000 Rapid Rewards points, or by flying a grueling 100 segments over a calendar year. Starting 1/1/2020, the points path will increase to 125,000, up 13.6%.

In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t a big change. 15,000 points can be earned through an additional $2,500 in Wanna Get Away fares. But most folks who earn companion pass via points don’t book this least expensive fare class. It’s the most restrictive and earns only 6 points per dollar. At the mid-level Anytime fare, travelers earn 10 points per dollar, so an extra $1,500 of spend is all that’s needed. Over in the most rewarding Business Select fare class, all that would be needed is an extra $1,250 in spend. For most folks, that’s an extra Business Select trip or two. Totally doable.

All this talk about travel. Let's go somewhere!

All this talk about travel. Let’s go somewhere!

Southwest spokesperson Ro Hawthorne confirmed that tier bonus points (extra points which A-List and A-List Preferred frequent flyers earn on revenue flights) do not count towards companion pass earnings. That said, unlike elite qualification, which requires butt-in-seat earnings, there are other point sources that count towards unlocking companion pass.

More clarification on which points count, and which don’t, from Hawthorne:

Companion Pass qualifying points are earned from revenue flights booked through Southwest, points earned on Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Cards, and base points earned from Rapid Rewards partners. Purchased points, points transferred between members, points converted from hotel and car loyalty programs, and e-Rewards, Valued Opinions and Diners Club, points earned from Rapid Rewards program enrollment, tier bonus points, flight bonus points, and partner bonus points (with the exception of the Rapid Rewards Credit Cards from Chase) do not qualify as Companion Pass qualifying points.

Some possible fees for same-day standby. - Image: Southwest

Some possible fees for same-day standby – Image: Southwest

Rapid Rewards Updates – Same-Day Standby Fees

As a card-carrying Southwest loyalist, Same-Day Standby is my favorite A-List perk that I’ve never been able to use. I’m not alone in loving it – it’s incredibly popular among Southwest frequent flyers. And while I’ve had no luck rolling the dice, I think that’s more of a reflection on my travel which tends to be focused on more medium-sized cities. There are just fewer options for me. And when there are, I’m pushed out by A-List preferred pals.

Get me home to Missouri! Photo: Gary Kelly (SWA CEO), Sly James (then KC Mayor) and Jay Nixon (then MO Governor) christen Missouri One.

Starting in 2021 A-Listers looking to use the same-day standby perk may incur some fees. Southwest’s communication on this was vague: “[travelers with itinerary changes] using same-day standby will be responsible for any additional government taxes and fees that may result.”  What exactly does that mean? And just how much might I expect to pay to use this perk? Just like a Facebook relationship status: It’s complicated.

The complexity in understanding what fees, if any, might be incurred on same-day standby swaps results from the fact that airline ticket prices are “all in”, meaning folks don’t typically see taxes and fees as line items unless they intentionally look for them. To try and understand how this might impact me, I asked Hawthorne for a few Kansas City-centric examples,

Get me home to this guy! (2016 photo) - Photo: JL Johnson

Get me home to this guy! (2016 photo) – Photo: JL Johnson

Example 1: I have a ticket for the 9:55 PM HOU-MCI nonstop. My meetings end early and the gate agent suggests I take HOU-DAL-MCI which would get me home a few hours early. The addition of Dallas to my itinerary results in an additional federally-imposed flight segment fee ($4.20), as well as the Dallas Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) ($4.50.) In this scenario, I would pay an extra $8.70 to get home a few hours early. I spend too much time away from family as-is, so this fee is a no-brainer.

Example 2: I’m traveling HOU-DAL-MCI, with a 55-minute layover in Dallas. Upon landing, I decide I would like to stay in Dallas a little longer and take a later flight out. It turns out the flight I want departs more than four hours after I arrived in Dallas. Because of this I would be on the hook for an extra $5.60 to cover DAL’s federally-imposed September 11th security fee. I suppose this makes sense, as there’s a reasonable chance a flyer might leave the secured area and have to be re-screened on a longer layover.

Bonus example: Let’s take example 2 in reverse. I’m booked HOU-DAL-MCI and for whatever reason, I have a four-hour scheduled layover. If I can get on an earlier DAL-MCI flight which brings my time on the ground under four hours, I can pocket a $5.60 credit.

Southwest Airlines tail at Oshkosh 2010

We’ve reached the tail end of the story. Southwest tail at Oshkosh 2010.

Rapid Rewards Update – Conclusion

Southwest’s updates to the Rapid Rewards program really are a mixed bag. Thankfully there’s nothing earth-shattering here.

I think it’s great that infrequent flyers might have a better shot at earning enough points for a reward redemption now that points don’t expire. The companion pass update might make earning the pass slightly harder, but I’m of the opinion that the only folks who can earn the companion pass are credit card nuts, folks who already travel in Business Select, and, of course, the droves of folks in California who earn it via ridiculously easy region-specific challenges.

As for the updates to same-day standby, I think it makes sense that we pay the taxes and fees which result from our changes. And frankly, I’m surprised Southwest is absorbing those costs today, and through 2020. Now that I have had time to understand what’s behind the fees (the government) I’m A-OK with the changes.

Still confused, have questions, or any thoughts about the changes? Leave them in the comments! Sometimes we get the fine folks at Southwest reading your comments, and you can make a difference!

The post Explaining Southwest’s Recent Rapid Rewards Updates appeared first on AirlineReporter.

November 25, 2019 at 07:33PM Source: https://ift.tt/2Ex2ezu

How Airlines Use Big Data to Augment Security …

How Airlines Use Big Data to Augment Security & Fight Fraud:

A Delta A350 departs DTW, the DL A350 hub. - Photo: Andrew Poure

A Delta A350 departs DTW – Photo: Andrew Poure

“Delta Air Lines was recently bombarded with 20,000 phishing emails over just a few hours. Two bad actors had directly targeted airline employees with malicious content in a brazen attempt to circumvent the airline’s security infrastructure.” Shocking, right?

Don McCoy, Cyber Security Manager for Delta openly shared this with a room of over 200 security professionals. To those not in the industry (that’s me) this sounds sensational. Interestingly, fellow attendees of Exabeam‘s #Spotlight19 conference largely didn’t react. It turns out, such attacks are commonplace for high-visibility organizations.

In retrospect, airlines make for an incredibly attractive target. All of the U.S. “big four” airlines now earn revenue well into the double-digit billions each year. They have data on millions of customers. And of course, airline employees have access to restricted virtual and physical assets. For these reasons, it is no wonder airlines are subject to the nonstop barrage of attempts to gain access to and exploit their data.

Preventing, identifying, and responding to phishing attacks is just the tip of the iceberg. Click through to read about how airlines use big data and analytics to identify fraud and even predict maintenance events.

Setting the stage with some basics

If you aren’t a cybersecurity expert but find the topic interesting, there are a few basics we should cover. Exabeam is a SIEM company. SIEM is an acronym for security information [and] event management, and is pronounced “SIM.”

Exabeam is one of a number of players in the SIEM field, others include Splunk, IBM QRadar, ArcSight, and LogRythmn. Exabeam interfaces with large datasets (often referred to as data lakes) from across an organization. A baseline is established through machine learning, behavioral analytics, and other advanced technology processing. In other words, Exabeam’s Advanced Analytics determines what is “normal” for users, and organizations. Exabeam then alerts on items deemed abnormal, which may require further investigation.

This is an oversimplification of a complex concept. (And yet, I still had to read it twice, but I am jiggy with it -Editor)

Spotlight19 Airline Panel

Exabeam’s Spotlight19 Airline Panel participants

Exabeam’s Spotlight19 Airline Security Panel Participants

Exabeam invited AirlineReporter to attend #Spotlight19, their annual conference. This year one of the panels included discussion of cybersecurity from the perspective of airlines. Security operations leaders from Delta Air Lines and United Airlines shared how they use Exabeam technology to push the envelope on SIEM.

Delta sent Don McCoy, Cybersecurity Manager. McCoy is a former U.S. Marine with over 20 years of security work, including time at Lockheed Martin. United sent Anthony Lauderdale, Director of Threat Detection and Monitoring. Lauderdale holds multiple security certifications and joined United from Motorola. Prior to his time with Motorola, Lauderdale worked for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (you probably already know their acronym).

A United Dreamliner and its reflection – Photo: United Airlines

Airline Security Panel- Big Data Applications

Earlier we noted airlines are frequently targeted for phishing attacks and that this is commonplace. Additional use-cases and anecdotes explored by airline security panel participants included:

  • Smuggling activity: Delta shared that they uncovered anomalous activity in their baggage handling operations. Exabeam alerted on bags checked late in the process, even during passenger boarding. Bad actors checked bags under customer reservations, for interception by accomplices at the destination.
  • Improbable logins: United shared one of their “best practices” of monitoring login activity for improbable logins. As an example, it is improbable that a call center agent would log in to airline applications on their day off, at 10 AM in New York, and then 11 AM in San Francisco. Exabeam alerts in these scenarios, which could indicate compromised accounts or credentials. Security analysts may then take action such as freezing an account or forcing a password reset.
  • Privilege abuse: Both airlines shared anecdotes in which they use Exabeam to discover fraud or abuse of privileges. Examples include abnormally high numbers (compared to peer group averages) of upgrades, waivers of fees, and advanced strategies to convert standby seats to confirmed travel.
  • Aircraft Data: Delta noted that aircraft generate incredible amounts of data. The airline is now embarking on a project to regularly pull that data and expose it to Exabeam. In doing so, Delta Tech Ops expects to identify anomalous readings. This early identification can indicate the need for maintenance before an issue is otherwise obvious, thus increasing safety and reliability.



Let us hope that collecting aircraft data isn’t as involved as Hollywood suggests. Chasing a plane in a Ferrari as the copilot dangles a networking cable from the landing gear just doesn’t seem practical. 

Airline Big Data Conclusion

For years we have heard about how big data, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and behavioral analytics can fundamentally change how business works. It is easy to be skeptical of new technology and the various buzz words used to describe it. After all, most of the general public’s perception of business technology tends to focus on apps, websites, automated phone systems, and chatbots. And everyone has their anecdotes on how those fail.

But here we see an advanced technology firm offering interesting products that its customers not only find value in, but are experimenting with in new and innovative ways. A healthy dose of skepticism is always warranted, but any company willing to invite media to their conferences, where they witness customers raving about outcomes is one that seems well-positioned for future results. And in a reality where every week we hear of new fraud schemes and data breaches, any technology that allows companies to better understand, manage, and protect their data should be viewed as a net positive.

DISCLOSURE: AirlineReporter attended the Spotlight19 conference as a guest of Exabeam. Our thoughts and opinions remain our own.  

The post How Airlines Use Big Data to Augment Security & Fight Fraud appeared first on AirlineReporter.

October 22, 2019 at 04:03PM Source: https://ift.tt/2Ex2ezu

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