Seat 2B By Joe Brancatelli
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9 Things to Do Now to Make Your Travel Better
January 15, 2015 -It's OK to admit it: It's only the middle of the month and you've blown every one of those New Year's Resolutions you so piously promised to keep just a few weeks ago.
Today I offer a fresh start, at least from a business-travel perspective.
Here are nine resolutions for road warriors that you can keep. They're not hard. They'll make your life on the road in 2015 a lot easier. No sweating at the gym, skipping French fries or revisiting failed relationships is required. And no one will notice that you didn't even start working on these resolutions until the second half of the first month of the year.1. Hold up your end of the merger
American Airlines and US Airways are legally and financially a single entity, but the carriers still operate separately more than a year after their merger. The company promises a combined frequent-flier program later this year, and that'll send chills down the spine of business travelers who suffered through the botched 2012 merger of of United and Continental airlines.
So don't miss an opportunity to protect yourself whenever American and US Air make it possible. Just such an opening appeared last week when the two carriers created a bridge between your American AAdvantage and US Airways Dividend Miles plans. Log into one of your two accounts and you'll automatically be offered the opportunity to link to the other. Do it. The more closely aligned your accounts are, the less chance of a screw-up later this year.
2. Don't leave any Platinum on the table
3. Check that passport
And do a physical reconnoiter of your passport, too. If you think you'll visit countries in 2015 that require a visa, you'll need at least two empty pages to accommodate each bureaucratic operation. If you're down to a few blanks, apply for additional pages.
4. Make your entry like a pro
Rather than fill out another customs declaration and wait in line to interact with a Customs and Border Protection agent, Global Entry allows you to use a kiosk to rapidly dispense with the formalities. But you're required to keep your passport information up-to-date for Global Entry to work. So if you've renewed recently, log into your Global Entry account and update the passport number.
While you're there, consider joining one of Global Entry's allied plans for the Netherlands or South Korea or acquire the APEC Business Travel Card, which offers customs and immigration bypass for a number of Pacific Rim nations. One final check: the expiration date on your Global Entry membership. Many business travelers will be due this year for their first-ever renewal of the initial five-year membership period.
5. Check your PreCheck
Make sure your known traveler number is correct in each profile. Double check the spelling of your name and how it is registered with airlines and travel agents. They must match exactly — down to the period of a middle initial or the correct suffix — for you to get the PreCheck benefits you deserve. Now's the time to go through this tedious exercise so that the TSA doesn't trip you up in the bureaucratic briar patches it created.
6. Play the field
7. Collect your bonuses
8. Protect those points
Then do what it takes now to keep your credits alive. Often you can keep plan credits active with a small credit card purchase, claiming a minimal award (say for magazine subscriptions) or donating credits to a worthy charity. It shouldn't take much to keep your miles and points current, but do it before your travel picks up again and you forget what's at risk.
9. At least make the hackers work for it