International Cell Phone Service

Current cell phones are one of modern life’s miracles, but they also present multiple issues in international travel especially for Americans. U.S. based cell service is usually a costly option when traveling outside of America and, from experience, we’ve found it is often not the most reliable option. Before you leave on a trip, contact your carrier to find out what your options are and the potential costs and apply a bit of skepticism.

CDMA vs. GSM, Prepaid vs. Contract Service.

There are three U.S. based CDMA providers: Verizon, Sprint and U.S. Cellular. While these companies offer international roaming, there may be countries where the service doesn’t work or is unreliable, primarily because most countries are based on GSM service. It is also dependent on your specific phone (i.e. These companies international service do not work with iPhone 4 and older iPhones). These CDMI providers offer special international plans but they are limited to specific countries and vary by cost. Again, we recommend that you find out your specific options before traveling.

All the rest of the U.S. service providers use GSM. Because of this, phones from these providers are more likely to work reliably while traveling internationally. Their service costs can still be high so, again, we recommend that you find out your specific options and costs before traveling.

Buying Sim Cards While Traveling

We would also strongly suggest that you find out if your GSM phone is unlocked or if it can be so you can buy a sim chip from a local provider in a country you are visiting. Often this can provide really inexpensive service for using data, calling locally as well as home. (See information on our Australia trips for an example of this).

A word of caution when buying a sim card while traveling outside your home country; make sure that the provider shows you how to call back home because many countries and providers have different ways of accessing international service and entering country codes. On one long trip we wasted much of our loaded credits not making calls properly and even when going back to the outlet where we purchased the sim they had difficulty placing an international call using the procedure they recommended. The only thing we recommend is to make sure they and you know what to do and a demonstration is highly recommended.

If you currently use one of America’s GSM companies our recommendation is to buy an inexpensive dual-sim GSM phone so you can subscribe to one of the international service companies or buy sim cards while traveling. There are dozens of options in phones for less than $100 and this would allow you to use your U.S. GSM service along with a foreign sim card in the same phone. We purchased a Blu 5.5” phone for about $80 several years ago and it still provides good service while overseas. We use a OneSimCard chip in the phone and can leave it for months without using it at no additional cost. We do have to use the phone once every six months to prevent losing loaded credits.

If you use one of the popular discount service providers (i.e. Citizen, Straight Talk, Metro PCS) or use a prepaid phone plan, you really need to look into you options for using these services for international roaming. With a majority of these, international service is just not available. Often when they advertise international calling it is only referring to calling from inside the United States.

International Cell Service Providers

International cut rate cell service providers are also an option. They all work on GSM phones and most provide plans that don’t expire and only charge for actual usage*. Some of the providers are World Travel Sim Card, Mobal, OneSimCard, National Geographic Travel Cellular and Cellular Abroad. While all advertise free incoming calls in a large number of countries, they all require the person calling you to call you on a foreign registered phone number. This shifts the cost to the person calling you. We have used One Sim Card service for a number of years and they offer the option of opting for a U.S. based second phone number ($10 year) and than your account is charged, usually about 20¢ a minute for incoming calls. (See our article on our Asia trip for a review on this service as well as using Verizon.)

Most of these services use VOIP (Voice Over Internet) to place calls. Often this process requires a two step method of placing a call. You call and it hangs up and reconnects when it has connected to the called number. Apps for smart phones often simplify these steps.

World Travel Sim Card. They supply a sim card for $10 that allows Voice, Text and Data service with airtime credit that never expire. Includes a U.K. number and extra U.S. number and works in the USA and in over 200 countries. Voice rates start at $0.25 per min and Text rates start at $0.19 each with data rates that start at 10c per MB

One Sim Card Service. Service similar to World Travel Sim Card. It offers a sim card package for $40 that includes $10 worth of service. You can travel internationally on their pre-paid service with charges as little as 20¢ a minute outbound calling.

National Geographic Travel Cellular. This is also a similar service but the provider is actually Cellular Abroad Service which offers their own plans as well.

All of these services offer toll free support along with packages of additional services.

T-Mobile service may be the one U.S. provider with the best international roaming service. This is probably because of T-Mobile’s international roots and the structure of their network. If you are a T-Mobile customer (check your plan) you can use your phone in a large number of countries at no additional cost for text and data. Phone calls average about 24¢ a minute and they have an additional voice discount option.

U.S. Provider International Cellular Rates

As of Early 2018

AT&T and Verizon offer a service where each day of international travel costs $10 (24 hours) from first use. Data, text and calls are used against your monthly service plan. The down side of this service is a two-week trip would cost an $140 for full usage.

Verizon has a 30 day plan that works in 140 countries for $40 for 100 minutes talk and 100 outbound text messages. Incoming text is free.

T-Mobile has some of the best international roaming services. One plan allows you to use text and data internationally at no extra cost with most calls billed at 25¢ max per minute.

Sprint also has a plan that allows you to use text and data internationally at no extra cost with most calls billed at 20¢ per minute. They also offer new discounted international roaming with Canada & Mexico at $2/day or $10/week and most other countries at $5/day or $25/week.

Coming Soon – Updated and New articles on:

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Travel Electronics (Update September 2018)

What We Travel With

Technology changes rapidly and services that worked well or were inexpensive yesterday may not be available or work the same way today.

Our travel electronics collection now includes a couple of small Macintosh Air laptops, an iPad, an Android tablet, two iPhones and a Blu phone, a compact digital camera and a waterproof digital camera (both Nikon).

This sounds like a lot but it all takes up about a half cubic foot of space and weighs less than 6 or 7 pounds.

Entertainment

While traveling we often find ourselves in media and internet impoverished areas but I will admit it gets better all the time*. We use two primary approaches as we travel. I download shows in my tablet mostly with Google Play or Netflix (many free) and I convert from our movie collection to MP4 and load a travel hard drive. One thing we have found essential is a small plug-in battery operated speaker. The current one is 2”x2”x1.5” and produces great sound (EWA Soundelf $10). Comes in handy when watching shows in bed in the evening on a laptop. We both have tablets and between us we carry a few dozen books in various apps (mostly Amazon and Google books [their apps] and B&N Nook). We do not use Apple Books as they are too difficult to share or use on non-Apple devices.

Computers

Most everyone these days are addicted to the internet and people find it strange when we try and prepare for long stretches not having internet. I have been in a couple of discussions with computer companies about back-up system software in case of an emergency (no longer are CD drives included). Apple once agreed and sold me a system on a thumb drive – just in case. Six months later I needed it and it would not load without being able to confirm the purchase on the internet!! Now falling back on a second device is always part of our plan. I carry a travel hard drive (about the size of a cell phone) with 2 Tb of storage and back up data only from both laptops to partitions on the drive regularly. I avoid backup schemes because they can be a problem if switching laptops.

I had bragged a year ago about a Windows, 2 in 1 laptop that I thought was perfect for travel. It could be used both as a laptop and a tablet. Well it self-destructed because the onboard memory (32 Gb) was taken over by Microsoft upgrades, ran out of room and stopped working because there wasn’t a complete operating system. I had installed a 132 Gb SD card to provide enough storage but MS wouldn’t allow their system to load to the SD card. My son is a computer engineer and programmer and has been unable to revive this device. Please avoid those minimum dive space laptops – there is no way to add a drive…

Cell Service

As mentioned in previous posts we have used Verizon as our primary cell service but we have given up after numerous international travel problems. I can’t even count the number of places we have been where service wasn’t available. The one thing we discovered was that most of the Americans that seemed to be using their cell phones when we couldn’t were T-Mobile customers. Verizon has sold us international phones that wouldn’t even work in London (actually almost everywhere and the battery would die because it never stopped searching for service). Our Verizon iPhones stopped a few years ago because there was a change in GSM services (we had to upgrade phones).

We now have two newer iPhones on T-Mobile and have three trips between now and December (two cruises and an extended Europe) and will let you know what happens. I still keep my Blu phone on OneSimCard service.

Cruising and Text Messaging

One issue we discover last April with a trans-Atlantic cruise involved texting onboard using iPhones and iMessage. Because of the cost of placing phone calls at see our preferred method of contact is texting. We have several family members that also use iPhones and texting with them completely failed. It seems that iMessage uses cellular data exclusively to send and receive messages and generally cellular service on ship is very expensive and data doesn’t work at all – so no texting.

The answer is to turn iMessage off and make sure SMS is active (also I would recommend turning MMS off as big photos and videos will get costly). This will solve most issues but there can be some problems if the person ashore is an iPhone user with iMessage turned on. If you believe this is causing a problem the other person must also turn iMessage off to exchange text with you.

We are always looking for tips on travel electronics and are looking into Movavi software for downloading video after another blog suggested it. Any ideas or tricks? Please let us know.

The State Department Has Some Advice For You

DC Snow

Extra Protection While Traveling

The United States State Department has a program to help you while you travel internationally. Travelers are urged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency. The State Department uses security messages to convey information to you about terrorist threats, security incidents, planned demonstrations, along with information about natural disasters.

Enrollment is free and it creates an account that includes your contact information along with how to get in touch with your emergency contacts should something happen. You use the account online to update your travel information before and while you travel, which is automatically transferred to embassies and consulates near your travel locations.

Sometimes having Big Brother watch you might be a good thing…

Travel, Credit Cards & Identity Theft

Credit Cards for International Travel

These are interesting times we live in when it comes to financially protecting ourselves. Just the simple pastimes of shopping and travel can expose us to financial fraud and it does seem to be getting worse. A couple of years ago our son and a friend where cruising with is and the ship stopped in Mexico. On the pier they took advantage of  telephones advertising ten minute calls to the U.S. for $5. When they got home they were each notified that they had gone on a shopping spree in Romania and when  the charges for the phone came thru they were for over $30 instead of the advertised $5.

Over the years we have been notified a number of times about unauthorized use of our credit cards along with one an incident of identity theft. Once someone bought gold coins online shortly after we left the country (several days before that a rental car agent had everything needed, the card information, a copy of my drivers license and she knew we were leaving the country – maybe??). Another time we were notified that we had purchased several bicycles in Rome while we were traveling in Europe (I think that information was supplied from checking into a hotel in Italy). Another time someone bought a batch of train tickets in Germany shortly after we booked a hotel in Europe thru booking.com. The one case of real of identity theft was quickly caught by our identity theft protection service. Fortunately most credit card companies do not hold you libel for unauthorized charges.

Even considering the above, with the wide international acceptance of credit cards there is no reason to not make them your primary resource for paying while you travel. Often it can save you money  over making several currency exchanges. One important thing to understand is that the best card for your everyday needs at home may not be the best card for international travel. You need to shop wisely.

For years our preferred domestic card has been the Discover Card because of its points program. It also advertises that they don’t charge international processing fees, which made it seem a good choice for traveling. Unfortunately this card doesn’t often work internationally. We’ve had repeated conversations with customer service and while they claim that it is accepted anywhere that takes the Diners Club Card we’ve learned that this is far from true. Its been rejected at so many shops and restaurants that we don’t even ask any more. We have used it while traveling but only when dealing with large corporations like hotels and airlines.

We have also experienced frequent problems trying to use the American Express Card. It seems that there are whole regions where businesses won’t accept it. On a recent trip to Barbados we couldn’t find anyone that would take American Express. We also had them shut down our card while overseas even though we told them we would be traveling and I still can’t believe why that happened.

The good news is that Visa and Mastercard are accepted almost everywhere, which makes either one a good choice for the American traveler. There are some additional considerations in choosing a credit card for international travel.

  • Wide Acceptance – As already mentioned some cards can be a problem internationally and our experience is that you cannot trust their claims. At this time the only two cards available in America we will use is Visa and Mastercard.
  • Transaction Fees – Early on we learned that international transaction fees could add up quickly and you should select a card that doesn’t charge these fees. Of course there are exchange rates but you will pay those regardless of what card or exchange service you use.
  • Travel, Credit Cards & Purchase Protection – The best example of this feature is insurance protection if you use a card to rent a car. All cards have a catalog of these benefits from extended merchandise warranty to travel life insurance and some cards can better than others.
  • Earned Points and Rewards – This is a common feature of most cards today and are an important benefit for us. At home we select a card for payment that provides the greatest number of points for each use but internationally there are different priorities.
  • Security Policies –Fortunately the transition of most cards to imbedded chips has greatly improved security but there are still potential problems. Just to be safe we set up all our cards with notifications on all internet and phone charges. If possible we also prefer that notifications come by text message because often data isn’t available or affordable while traveling. We also notify the card companies of our travel plans but lately that doesn’t seem to be necessary –because of the chip  most aren’t interested.

Identity Protection

A number of years ago we weren’t concerned about identity theft – just didn’t think it was a high-risk problem. Over the past five or six years we have been victims more than once and now believe the protection is well worth the expense. Each recent attack was caught by our ID theft service quickly but we also take some additional steps to protect us.

We have used a couple of different services and our experience is they are very similar. We were however with Equifax and overseas when their data breach occurred and trying to deal with them was not a pleasant experience*.

For a good review on these services check out this article on  Reviews.com.

I think one of the best things we do to protect ourselves is to freeze our credit reports on a regular basis. All three agencies allow for you to do this and some identity theft protection services make this an easy process. while reporting agencies claim that you have to have a suspicion of a problem to use this service nobody will challenge you about doing this. The result is someone else cannot successfully apply for a card or loan in your name if you credit report is frozen.

Your credit report contains information about your payment history that all creditors and lenders use to make credit decisions about issuing you credit. When you freeze your credit report, creditors and lenders can’t pull your credit report or credit score**. Since most banks require a credit check, an application for credit would likely be denied. You can freeze your credit report at all three major credit bureaus, but it must usually be done individually.

To freeze your report go online to Equifax, or call 1-800-349-9960.

To freeze your report go online to Experian, or call 1-888-397-3742.

To freeze your report go online to TransUnion, or call 1-888-909-8872.

Also these freezes automatically expire after 90 days so it must be repeated. One additional advantage is the warnings that you get from your ID theft company will greatly diminish.

*Equifax’s web site wasn’t functioning and if we got a call thru to their switchboard  we spent almost an hour before giving up. We did send emails but they were never answered.

** This does work as I went to apply for a credit card that offered additional travel benefits and was turned down. They did send an email telling me my credit was frozen and if I would remove the freeze they would process the application again.

 

Ways to Save Money on Booking a Cruise

Getting the best deal on booking a cruise is a process very much like getting the best fare on a flight. Like all businesses, cruise lines want to get the most for every cabin and, like the airlines at the moment of departure, anything unsold has no future value. Economists call these items non-fungible, meaning they cannot be exchanged in the future. We’ve booked more than fifty cruises over the years and have discovered a few truths in this process. We have also discovered a few tricks that help us save money and reduce the outlay of deposit amounts.

Start By Researching Fares in the Market You’re Interested In

Like the cost of everything, cruise prices vary based on market conditions. Prices vary by the cruise line, the itinerary, the time of year and the cruise’s popularity.

Just like hotels and restaurants, cruise lines are generally priced by their expected level of service and their intended clientele. Carnival, an economy line, is structured to appeal to a younger group looking to party. Royal Caribbean, a mid-range price point, focuses on young families while Celebrity, a higher priced choice, focuses on an older demographic with higher expectations in service. Taking a quick look at a number of similar cruises will quickly give you an idea how this pricing element works.

An owners suite on RCL

Some itineraries are more popular than others and pricing reflects this difference. Alaska can be more expensive than the Caribbean and trans-Atlantic cruises are usually much less expensive than European cruises.

Finally, the time of year has a huge effect on pricing. The easiest example is Caribbean cruise prices in August compared with October. While summer is usually off-season in the Caribbean it is also school break time. By October the kids are back in school and demand has dropped accordingly and so have the fares.

Look at Add-On Expenses You’re Likely to Use

In addition to the cabin rate, you should also consider onboard expenses you are likely to incur. Included services vary by cruise lines and frequent cruiser status. In addition, most cruise lines are now offering onboard packages that can include laundry, internet, sodas, fancy coffees and bar drinks. Another major onboard expense is booking tours.

Make sure you understand what things are included in a cruise and if not what they are likely to cost you specifically. For example, some cruises include drinks while others may cost $500.00 or more for a drink package. Making this price comparison may actually justify the expense of an upgrade.

Decide What You Want in a Cabin

Picking a cabin category isn’t as straight forward as you would think. Most people assume that an inside cabin is the choice for saving money and, often it is, but not always. More and more the cruise lines are offering free add-ons as a sales promotion. These can include prepaid gratuities, drink packages and onboard credits. Sometimes incentives include one and at times all three. Often, inside cabins do not qualify for these free add-ons and that can have a big impact on the overall cost of the cruise.

At the time we make a reservation, this is a major consideration. When these promotions are being offered, an ocean view or veranda cabin can be less expensive than an inside cabin. There have also been cruises where an inside cabin costs more to book. We believe this happens when we book early and the cruise ship is trying to keep these cabins in reserve.

When we select a cruise we often let the itinerary dictate which cabin we want. Long ago we decided that we have no problem with inside cabins. On most cruises we actually spend very little time in our cabin so upgrading means little. On one cruise we were upgraded to an owner’s suite and while spacious and beautiful, it really seemed a waste of space and certainly would not be worth it to us if we had to pay full price. On a trans-Atlantic, an inside cabin is fine with us but, in Alaska, getting a veranda cabin usually is a must. Often it is all about the view.

Food, food,and more food

Book Early

Many times the best prices are available when a cruise is first announced. After the initial listing the cruise company can discover the cruise is getting a good response and the simple rule of supply and demand allows them to increase fares. Also, unlike airline tickets, the cruise line may allow you to take advantage of price reductions right up to the final payment date which is generally 90 days prior to sailing. That policy usually includes reduced fares, upgrading the cabin or taking advantage of free add-ons.

There are also situations where the opposite strategy can produce big savings. That is last minute booking, usually only a few days or weeks before sailing. Faced with empty cabins and no revenue, many cruise lines will offer super last-minute discounts. This is partly because the cabin fare is only part of the potential revenue from a passenger. Casinos, drink sales and tour fees add up to big money. We generally do not use this option in our planning but will take advantage of last minute cruises if the price is too good to pass up.

Always Book Onboard

The likelihood of a passenger returning to the same cruise line is actually very high and with frequent cruiser programs the likelihood is even greater. Most ships have a future booking office onboard and to get you to commit they offer additional incentives. These may include greatly reduced deposits and special add-ons. Since you can take advantage of price changes or switch cruises up to 90 days before the cruise and also get your deposit refunded if you cancel, this is a great opportunity*.

Watch and Take Advantage of Incentives

Even after you have confirmed a reservation and put down a deposit you can take advantage of special incentives. If you are a member of a buying group (Groupon, AAA, AARP), or an online travel service (Expedia, PriceLine) that sends you emails of special offers, get in the habit of reviewing these on a regular basis. If you see a good offer, see if you can add it to your reservation. Most times these offers are not exclusive regardless of what the agency says.

After You Book Keep Watching the Fares

As likely as fares are to go up, price reductions also happen but you can’t take advantage of them if you don’t know about them. Get in the habit of checking the prices on cruises you have already booked looking for opportunities to save or upgrade.

Work with a Good Travel Agent

There may not be such a thing as a free lunch, but travel agents are actually free (at least to you) when booking a cruise. We strongly recommend getting to know a good travel agent and getting in the habit of booking everything through them. They actually will appreciate the business and most consider it their job to help you manage saving money. They are also much more effective at dealing with the cruise lines when getting fares reduced or adding on incentives. Your way to contact the cruise line is to call an inside agent but the travel agent has a marketing representative that they routinely deal with and have less difficulty negotiating changes.

Also, if your agent is affiliated with one of the growing super agencies, they can offer you specials provided by their agency in addition to the cruise line. Often their agency has booked a popular cruise as a group package and they can add you to the group and get you an additional discount or onboard credit. At times they also offer their own promotional specials like a free tour or an additional onboard credit.

The best way to connect with a good agent is to ask friends or fellow travelers for their recommendation and ask questions about their experience.

In closing, we have an observation about advertised offers. We get emails from a number of travel agencies and they are constantly screaming about their exclusive special deals from this or that cruise line. Usually they are not exclusive deals and often they are cleverly misrepresenting a price structure. “Cruises from $499.00 with a $700.00 onboard credit” sound familiar? It may be true that an inside cabin can be booked for $499.00 but it is not eligible for any onboard credit; the $700.00 credit is only for suites. We have rarely found a unique offer but often these are a clue that there are price reductions happening.


*Unfortunately, in the last year, a number of cruise companies have started adopting a policy of non-refundable deposits and this changes the process some. Currently, Celebrity is offering lower fares for non-refundable deposits so this is going to cause some rethinking of how we address some booking in the future.

 

 

TSA – That’s Good to Know

 

After The Sequined Top post we got inquiries about more info on TSA rules. Be sure and check out Immigration FastPass too.


The TSA is the United States Transportation Safety Administration and it is currently responsible for inspecting all passengers and items they intend to carry onto all commercial airliners taking off from U.S. Airports.

The official TSA guidelines state, You cannot  take any objects in your hand baggage or on your person that could cause injury to yourself and other passengers.

Transportation Safety Officers (TSO) are trained, certified and authorized, in accordance with applicable TSA standards and directives, to inspect individuals, accessible property and/or checked baggage for the presence of explosives, incendiaries, weapons or other prohibited items. At a checkpoint they are the authorities as to what cannot be taken past the inspection area”

TSA Website Offers the Following Travel Checklist information:

Before Packing

  • Liquids, gels and aerosols packed in carry-on must follow the 3-1-1 liquids rule:

The rule of thumb for liquids, gels and aerosols: You’re allowed to take as many 3.4 ounce or smaller sized containers that will fit in one sealed, clear, quart-sized zip-top bag – and one bag per person. Make life simple by packing liquids in your checked baggage. That way, you don’t have to worry about the liquids rue.



  • 3.4 ounces or less per container
  • 1 quart size, clear, plastic, zip top bag (all liquids must fit in bag)
  • 1 bag per passenger

Deodorant: Flying with deodorant isn’t a sticky situation. Stick deodorant is not limited to 3.4 oz or less, but gel or spray deodorant is.

Makeup: Any liquid makeup cosmetics such as eyeliner, nail polish, liquid foundation, etc., should be placed in the baggie. That goes for perfume as well. Powder makeup is fine.


  • Review the prohibited items list for both carry-on and checked baggage.
  • If purchasing a baggage lock, be sure to look for those that are TSA recognized.
  • Tape a card with your name and contact information on your electronics.

When Packing

  • Pack items in layers (shoes one layer, clothes one layer, electronics one layer, etc.)


Not Allowed Items

Shaving Razors: In brief, all razors are allowed in checked bags. Disposable razors are allowed in carry-on bags, and safety razors with removable blades are not. Check out the blog post for pictures of razor examples and more information.


  • Firearms are only allowed in checked baggage and must be unloaded, placed in a locked, hard-sided container and declared to your airline.
  • All fireworks contain explosive materials and are not permitted in checked or carry-on baggage.
  • cigarette lighters. you can take a lighter on the plane. But no more than one. Confusingly, ‘you must keep the lighter on your person throughout the flight.
  • Pack large electronics on top layer of carry-on for screening accessibility.
  • Place your 3-1-1 bag with liquids, gels and aerosols in the front pocket of your carry-on for accessibility.
  • If traveling with a pet, be sure to bring a leash so carriers can be properly screened.
  • Before Leaving for the Airport. Give yourself enough time to arrive at the airport early.
  • Wear easily removable shoes.
  • Passengers with a disability or medical condition may call ahead to the TSA Cares toll free helpline at (855) 787-2227.
  • Before Entering the Checkpoint
  • Eligible passengers look for the TSA Pre® lane for expedited screening at participating airports.
  • Have your ID and boarding pass out for inspection.
  • In Standard Screening Lane
  • Remove the 3-1-1 liquids bag and place it in the bin.
  • Ensure pockets are empty (keys, tissues, currency, wallets, cell phones, etc.) and remove bulky jewelry (valuable items can be placed in carry-on).
  • Remove your shoes and place them directly on the X-ray belt.
  • Remove personal electronic devices larger than a cell phone from your carry-on bag and place them into a bin with nothing placed on or under them for X-ray screening. (E.g. laptops, tablets, e-readers and handheld game consoles.)
  • Remember to check the bins and collect all belongings after going through screening.

Screening Equipment

Metal Detectors – Before going thru remove all metal objects from your person. That should include car keys, cell phones, belt buckles and coins.

Scanners – Unlike the metal detectors you must remove everything from your pockets before going thru even non-metallic objects. They can detected small plastic pill cases and glass eye dropper bottles. They have even found a two pack of breath mints and when that happens you are going to get delayed.

How to get into the TSA fast lane.

Getting Expedited Screening

TSA Pre® – TSA Pre✓® allows eligible travelers to receive expedited screening. In layman’s terms, it means you get through security quickly. The average wait time in TSA Pre✓® lanes is under 5 minutes! Even if a TSA Pre✓® line looks longer, they move much faster than a standard lane with more convenience. For TSA Pre✓® travelers, there is no need to remove shoes, laptops, liquids, belts and light jackets. 

TSA Pre✓® travelers (including those enrolled in Global Entry, NEXUS and SENTRI), have access to faster TSA Pre✓® lanes at more than 200 airports when flying with participating airlines. To find the program that best suits your travel needs, 

What if TSA Pre® Not Reflected on Boarding Pass: If you’re looking at your boarding pass and you don’t see the TSA Pre✓® indicator even though you’re an approved trusted traveler, we’re here to help! Get live assistance by tweeting @AskTSA or via Facebook Messenger. Our AskTSA team can help resolve any issues.

TSA Pre✓® and Traveling companions:

On times while traveling either my wife or I don’t get a TSA Pre✓® on our boarding pass. We have asked agents and they have, on more than one occasion, told us that if one of us is pre-cleared the other can go with them thru TSA Pre✓®. As close as we have come to confirmation on this is following notice on the Ask TSA web site:

Traveling with children: Screening is simpler for children 12 and under, so they can keep their shoes on. Read about how to best pack for your child and read how Kids rule the airport”. Children 12 and under may also travel through the TSA Pre✓® lane if one or both of their parents have it!

Current Airline Baggage Fees (Feb 2018)

Sorry – I published the unedited list. This one is much easier to use.

U.S. Airlines Baggage Fees on Domestic Flights

Alaska Airlines Checked Bags 1 – $25 2 – $25 3+ – $75 Overweight Bags 1 – $75 Oversized Bags 1 – $75 Carry On 1 – Free

American Airlines Checked Bags 1 – $25 2 – $35 3+ – $150 Overweight Bags 1 – $100 to $200 Oversized Bags 1 – $200 Carry On 1 – Free to $25

Frontier Airlines Checked Bags 1 – $25 to $60 2 – $40 to $45 3+ – $75 to $80 Overweight Bags 1 – $75 Oversized Bags 1 – $75 Carry On 1 – $30 to $35

Hawaiian Airlines Checked Bags 1 – $25 2 – $35 3+ – $50 to $100 Overweight Bags 1 – $35 to $200 Oversized Bags 1 – $35 to $100 Carry On 1 – Free

JetBlue Airways Checked Bags 1 – $25 2 – $35 3+ – $100 Overweight Bags 1 – $100 Oversized Bags 1 – $100 Carry On 1 – Free

Southwest Airlines Checked Bags 1 – Free 2 – Free 3+ – $75 Overweight Bags 1 – $75 Oversized Bags 1 – $75 Carry On 1 – Free

Spirit Airlines Checked Bags 1 – $30 to $65 2 – $40 to $65 3+ – $85 Overweight Bags 1 – $30 to $100 Oversized Bags 1 – $100 to $150 Carry On 1 – $37 to $65

Sun Country Airlines Checked Bags 1 – $25 2 – $35 3+ – $75 Overweight Bags 1 – $75 Oversized Bags 1 – $75 Carry On 1 – Free

United Airlines Checked Bags 1 – $25 to $30 2 – $35 3+ – $150 Overweight Bags 1 – $100 to $200 Oversized Bags 1 – $200 Carry On 1 – Free

Virgin America Checked Bags 1 – $25 2 – $25 3+ – $25 Overweight Bags 1 – $50 to $100 Oversized Bags 1 – $75 Carry On 1 – Free

 U.S. & International Airlines Baggage Fees* on Most International Flights

Aer Lingus Checked Bags 1 – Free 2 – $100 3+ – $100 Overweight Bags 1 – $100 Oversized Bags 1 – $100 Carry On 1 – Free

Aeroflot Russian Airlines Checked Bags 1 – Free 2 – $50 3+ – $150 Overweight Bags 1 – $100 to $150 Oversized Bags 1 – $100 to $150 Carry On 1 – Free

Aeromexico Checked Bags 1 – $20 to $25 2 – $45 to $55 3+ – $150 to $180 Overweight Bags 1 – $35 to $200 Oversized Bags 1 – $160 to $200 Carry On 1 – Free

Air Canada Checked Bags 1 – $26 2 – $37 3+ – $105 Overweight Bag 1 – $105 Oversized Bags 1 – $105 Carry On 1 – Free

Air China Checked Bags 1 – Free 2 – Free 3+ – $110 Overweight Bags 1 – $75 to $110 Oversized Bags 1 – $75 to $110 Carry On 1 – Free

Air France Checked Bags 1 – Free 2 – $80 to $100 3+ – $200 Overweight Bags 1 – $100 Oversized Bags 1 – $300 Carry On 1 – Free

Air India Checked Bags 1 – Free 2 – Free 3+ – $100 to $200 Overweight Bags 1 – $100 to $200 Oversized Bags 1 – $200 to $600 Carry On 1 – Free

Air New Zealand Checked Bags 1 – Free 2 – $150 3+ – $200 Overweight Bags 1 – $150 Oversized Bags 1 – $150 Carry On 1 – Free

Air Tahiti Nui Checked Bags 1 – Free 2 – $75 to $100 3+ – $150 to $200 Overweight Bags 1 – $75 to $100 Oversized Bags 1 – $150 to $200 Carry On 1 – Free

Alaska Airlines Checked Bags 1 – $25 2 – $25 3+ – $75 Overweight Bags 1 – $75 Oversized Bags 1 – $75 Carry On 1 – Free

Alitalia Checked Bags 1 – Free Carry On 1 – Free

All Nippon Airways Checked Bags 1 – Free 2 – Free 3+ – $100 to $200 Overweight Bags 1 – $60 to $200 Oversized Bags 1 – $200 Carry On 1 – Free

American Airlines Checked Bags 1 – Free to $25 2 – Free to $553+ – $85 to $200 Overweight Bags 1 – Free to $450 Oversized Bags 1 – $150 to $200 Carry On 1 – Free

Avianca Checked Bags 1 – Free 2 – Free 3+ – $175 to $250 Overweight Bags 1 – $90 to $150 Oversized Bags 1 – $130 Carry On 1 – Free

Cathay Pacific Airways Checked Bags 1 – Free 2 – Free 3+ – $150 Overweight Bags 1 – $100 Oversized Bags 1 – $100 Carry On 1 – Free

El Al Israel Airlines Checked Bags 1 – Free 2 – $85 to $100 3+ – $85 to $200 Overweight Bags 1 – $55 to $100 Oversized Bag 1 – $85 to $200 Carry On 1 – Free

Emirates Checked Bags 1 – Free 2 – Free 3+ – $158 to $175 Overweight Bags 1 – $50 Oversized Bags 1 – $175 Carry On 1 – Free

Etihad Airways Checked Bags 1 – Free 2 – Free 3+ – $240 to $300 Carry On 1 – Free

Finnair Checked Bags 1 – Free 2 – $60 to $75 3+ – $60 to $75 Overweight Bags 1 – $100 Oversized Bags 1 – $100 to $200 Carry On 1 – Free

Frontier Airlines Checked Bags 1 – $25 to $60 2 – $40 to $50 3+ – $75 to $80 Overweight Bags 1 – $75 Oversized Bags 1 – $75 Carry On 1 – $30 to $35

Hawaiian Airlines Checked Bags 1 – Free 2 – Free 3+ – $150 Overweight Bags 1 – $50 to $400 Oversized Bags 1 – $150 Carry On 1 – Free

Iberia Checked Bags 1 – Free 2 – $85 to $100 3+ – $170 to $200 Overweight Bags 1 – $100 Oversized Bags 1 – $50 to $320 Carry On 1 – Free

Icelandair Checked Bags 1 – Free Carry On 1 – Free

Insel Air Checked Bags 1 – Free 2 – $40 3+ – $150 Overweight Bags 1 – $40 Oversized Bags 1 – $150 Carry On 1 – Free

JetBlue Airways Checked Bags 1 – $25 2 – $35 3+ – $100 Overweight Bags 1 – $100 Oversized Bags 1 – $100 Carry On 1 – Free

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Checked Bags 1 – Free 2 – $80 to $100 3+ – $200 Overweight Bags 1 – $100 Oversized Bags 1 – $80 to $150 Carry On 1 – Free

Korean Air Checked Bags 1 – Free 2 – Free 3+ – $200 Overweight Bags 1 – $100 to $200 Oversized Bags 1 – $200 Carry On 1 – Free

Latam Airlines Group Checked Bags 1 – Free 2 – Free 3+ – $100 to $200 Overweight Bags 1 – $50 to $200 Oversized Bags 1 – $100 Carry On 1 – Free

LOT Polish Airlines Checked Bags 1 – Free 2 – $71 to $332 3+ – $71 to $332 Overweight Bags 1 – $71 to $221 Oversized Bags 1 – $71 to $221 Carry On 1 – Free

Lufthansa German Airlines Checked Bags 1 – Free 2 – $75 to $100 3+ – $75 to $500 Overweight Bags 1 – $70 to $450 Oversized Bags 1 – $70 to $450 Carry On 1 – Free

Malaysia Airlines Checked Bags 1 – Free 2 – Free Carry On1 – Free

Norwegian Air International Checked Bags 1 – $57 to $130 2 – $57 to $130 3+ – $57 to $130 Carry On 1 – Free

Philippine Airlines Checked Bags 1 – Free 2 – Free 3+ – $100 Overweight Bags 1 – $150 to $450 Oversized Bags 1 – $150 to $450 Carry On 1 – Free

Qantas Airways Checked Bags 1 – Free 2 – $175 3+ – $175 Overweight Bags 1 – $75 Oversized Bags 1 – $75 Carry On 1 – Free

Royal Air Maroc Checked Bags 1 – Free 2 – $150 3+ – $150 Overweight Bags 1 – $50 Oversized Bags 1 – $50 Carry On 1 – Free

SAS Scandinavian Airlines Checked Bags 1 – Free 2 – $110 3+ – $110 Overweight Bags 1 – $250 Oversized Bags 1 – $250 Carry On1 – Free

Singapore Airlines Checked Bags 1 – Free 2 – Free 3+ – $150 to $350 Overweight Bags 1 – $100 to $225 Oversized Bags 1 – $100 to $225 Carry On 1 – Free

South African Airways Checked Bags 1 – Free 2 – Free 3+ – $200 to $400 Overweight Bags 1 – $200 to $400 Oversized Bags 1 – $200 to $400 Carry On 1 – Free

Southwest Airlines Checked Bags 1 – Free 2 – Free 3+ – $75 Overweight Bags 1 – $75 Oversized Bags 1 – $75 Carry On 1 – Free

Spirit Airlines Checked Bags 1 – $32 to $65 2 – $32 to $65 3+ – $32 to $65 Overweight Bags 1 – $30 Oversized Bags 1 – $100 to $150 Carry On 1 – $39 to $65

Swiss Checked Bags 1 – Free 2 – $85 to $210 3+ – $85 to $210 Overweight Bags 1 – $300 to $450 Oversized Bags 1 – $300 to $450 Carry On 1 – Free

TAP Portugal Checked Bags 1 – Free 2 – $160 to $280 3+ – $160 to $280 Overweight Bags 1 – $120 to $220 Oversized Bags 1 – $180 to $220 Carry On 1 – Free

Thai Airways Checked Bags 1 – Free 2 – Free Carry On 1 – Free

Turkish Airlines Checked Bags 1 – Free 2 – $100 3+ – $100 to $300

Overweight Bags 1 – $80 to $150 Carry On 1 – Free

United Airlines Checked Bags 1 – Free 2 – Free to $100 3+ – $200 Overweight Bags 1 – $200 to $400 Oversized Bags 1 – $200 Carry On 1 – Free

Virgin America Checked Bags 1 – $25 2 – $25 3+ – $25 Overweight Bags 1 – $50 to $100 Oversized Bags 1 – $75

Virgin Atlantic Airways Checked Bags 1 – Free 2 – $100 3+ – $200 Overweight Bags

1 – $100 Oversized Bags 1 – $60 Carry On 1 – Free

Virgin Australia Checked Bags 1 – Free 2 – $90 3+ – $160Overweight Bags

1 – $100 Oversized Bags Carry On 1 – Free

WestJet Checked Bags 1 – $19 to $22 2 – $26 to $30 3+ – $74 to $87 Overweight Bags 1 – $55 to $65 Oversized Bags 1 – $55 to $65 Carry On 1 – Free