Welcome to a weekly feature on the Delta Points blog. Each week this series covers in a “rookie” way either a Delta or travel related theme and attempts to break down to a basic level each topic. You can read up on all the previous posts HERE. Now on to this week’s feature.

tsa pre check logo from tsa website

Unless you like slow lines, the nude-O-scopes, taking your shoes off and laptop out, then you should LOVE TSA Pre✓™. I think I was in the very first groups as I got my GOES as quick as I could get my interview (it took months back then). I expect 3 beeps when my boarding pass is scanned and am most displeased to only get one (just about never happens). But how do I ensure this and what do you need to know.

First, how to get it. You can get it as a Delta elite. If you have it this way you need to make sure of a few things and if they are “off” it is time to make some changes (even if they are a pain to do)! Since you don’t have an official Trusted / Known Traveler number as you would if you were in the program you have to hope you get picked. Is that all there is to it? No. Some readers complain they NEVER get the 3 beeps and they are a Delta elite. I can tell you one reason this could be happening. Your name!

For the rest of us, Delta makes it sorta hard to find just where to enter your Trusted / Known Traveler number info on Delta.com. I have a post about it with helpful red arrows HERE.

Why is this helpful for those elites who do not have a Trusted / Known Traveler number? I want you to dig out your:

  • Skymiles card (i.e. info at “My Delta” at Delta.com)
  • Your drivers license
  • Your passport
  • Any other official government IDs

Now I want you to look at this pile of “cards”. I mean not just peek, but scrutinize them. Like a detective would a crime scene. Is there ANYTHING different? I mean a letter, a dot, a space, a jr., a middle name over just middle initial. ANYTHING different at all? This could be one of your problems.

What you and we should all do is make sure, most importantly, our passport and our Skymiles info is 100% the same down to the letter. Then, if you really want to be safe, all those other cards and ID’s also should be just the same to match the rest. Could this take some time and work to e-mail and scan and fax to all these places (and maybe some cost too) to make them all the same? You bet, but it is a one time change and you are done. Well worth it to me!

While we are talking about this, if you ever fly other airlines, you had better make sure your name then also matches all your ID’s in their frequent flyer accounts as well and you have entered your Trusted / Known Traveler number there and checked it before and during online check-in as well.

Delta TSA Trusted Traveler Known Traveler number on APP 1

Now for Delta travelers I have some GOOD NEWS! Delta has updated their Fly Delta APP in July2014. They have now, unlike Delta.com, made it very simple to update and enter all your info from your mobile device! Check this out. Start up the APP.

Delta TSA Trusted Traveler Known Traveler number on APP 2

Then just click on “My Delta” and then “My Profile”

Delta TSA Trusted Traveler Known Traveler number on APP 3

You are now where you need to be to check all data including your name, address as well as your Trusted / Known Traveler number!

So at long last Delta has made this very simple for us to check and use; now it is up to us to make sure all our info is exactly the same on all our stuff! – René

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Posted by rene | 5 Comments

bits

Before you start your “Delta Day” there may have been some Delta related bits and parts you missed out on from yesterday. Perhaps you were returning home and did not have time to browse the BA home page. Let me help you catch up!

typhoon neoguri

Delta has issued a FREE weather waiver for the NYC area airports today. If you read the blog you should KNOW what this means by now. :-) Also for Japan, Typhoon Neoguri is about to “come a calling” so free changes from 8-11JULY2014

delta july2014 skymiles promo

There is a sorta not sorta targeted promo for much of the Caribbean, Mexico & Latin America & flying Delta as PM&M points out. Like all promos you have to register 1st, then book, so sorry if you have already booked. The only workaround is a big schedule change and they reissue the ticket; sometimes this can trigger as a “new” ticket.

I love a good Bumpertunity! We have gotten used to the online booking page only MAX offering $400 to bid for a bump. We also know the “real” list is not the online one but the paper one the GA or gate agent uses and being #1 on that is all important. But it seems, again according to PM&M, Delta has adjusted the max bid up to $800 online. Again – THIS DOES NOT MATTER! It is the GA that matters and has the final say just how much you will get!

Delta Air Lines 737-900ER photos delta points travel blog (7)

I flew the very first revenue flight for the Delta 737-900 and most of us who have been on the jet like it. MJ on Travel survived a redeye in coach. He chose the right seats. Please never pick row 10 DEF (as seen above) as they are the worst! Do you like the new slimline seats btw?

Lastly, from my post yesterday, please make sure you have your phone FULLY CHARGED when flying back home from overseas. If not, you had better always have a battery brick with you or you could lose your phone to the security personal! – René

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tweet from tsa about new enhanced security

re-tweeted yesterday  the announcement about the new enhanced security rules for some direct flights to the USA. The full text from the TSA web site says:

“Enhanced security measures at certain airports overseas – Sunday, July 6, 2014

Last week, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson directed TSA to implement enhanced security measures at certain overseas airports with direct flights to the United States.

As the traveling public knows, all electronic devices are screened by security officers. During the security examination, officers may also ask that owners power up some devices, including cell phones. Powerless devices will not be permitted onboard the aircraft. The traveler may also undergo additional screening.

TSA will continue to adjust security measures to ensure that travelers are guaranteed the highest levels of aviation security conducted as conveniently as possible.”

What this means, to me, is if your phone battery is dead you may have to go back and get some quick power before you proceed through security. That is great if you have plenty of time to do so. What if you don’t?

anker astro3e 10000mAh

I have given away literally dozens of “battery bricks” here on the blog on SWAG Saturday. I have personally upgraded my battery brick from small ones to now one big enough to recharge my laptop from zero to full if need be. My wife has one and I have a car power port to USB charger always with me in case the car I rent does not have USB power pre-installed.

My wife also always says anything you can fix for $25 is not worth stressing about when you travel. Can you imagine the stress of the choice between boarding and tossing out your cell phone or iPad? That is why we should always have a charged battery brick with us just in case. It has saved my back side more than once and now, in case my phone is dead at a TSA checkpoint, I could always just plug in and fire the puppy up. – René

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Posted by rene | 3 Comments

 

Via Google Chrome that has translated the below text about this Skyteam jet clearly should have held short. Hard to tell just how near a miss this was but the report says:

This Saturday the Barcelona El Prat airport could have been the scene of a catastrophic accident. In the incident two aircraft, one of the company UTair, from Moscow, which was about to land, and the other Aerolineas Argentinas, which crossed the track to take her off to Buenos Aires were involved. The pilot of the aircraft came from the Russian capital had to improvise a maneuver to avoid a catastrophe. – http://actualidad.rt.com

I don’t know about you but that looks REAL close to me! Fly safe everyone on your way back home today! – René

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2-ProVision-ATD-Mannequin

I really respect airline people and ex-airline people like my friend and fellow BA blogger MJ on Travel. Again the people, NOT the machine behind our travel. The people (most of them anyway) are human and have fellow feeling toward you; the airline/security/et al often does not and why should it anyway?

I will again this year far exceed 100 segments, that is I will be in an airplane with some kind of paint on the outside (most of it Delta-ish) that goes up and down. I think in most books that qualifies me as a frequent flyer.

Having said that I dislike the TSA. Now to be clear not for what you may think. I do THANK the TSA folks for keeping us safe each time I fly. I understand they find a TERRIFYING number of guns (and worse) each year. The nightmares they find are so, IMO, under reported and I give them credit for what they do. So I really am a supporter not a basher of the TSA – mostly!

But why mostly. Let’s go back to MJ on Travel and this post about his recent TSA experience. I have flown with MJ a time or two and he really is a true gentleman in every sense of the word with everyone he meets. If you meet MJ you will like MJ – it’s that simple. But he can NOT do the TSA scanners.

pro vision scanner

What about me. I get they are no longer the full “Nude – O Scopes” of the past (ie only a rep in a room far away sees you “nude”) plus the “new ones” all use “harmless” radio waves but it still bugs me what they do and show. I also don’t need MORE rays hitting my body. Yes, I also understand you get more rays up in the air blah blah blah, but I just don’t want more of any of that if I don’t have to! Then there are those who are or even could be with child – IMO – no thank you. Then, like MJ, those with medical devices that could possibly be damaged or cause an issue.

rene deltapoints-com blog passport goes id and dl

So far most of this post is just stating the obvious and is maybe not all that helpful. Time to be helpful. I have Global Entry and TSA Pre check. I will ALWAYS have both. I cannot even think about flying without them. For $20 per year this is the best value in the air. Even if I don’t fly for a year or two I will pay this to keep it forever. This in addition to being Delta’s highest rank elite flyer Diamond Medallion.

I have all this so I don’t have to be scanned. I always choose to opt out when not selected for TSA Pre check for whatever reason. I don’t like the “man massage” I get and find the work around my “sensitive areas” to be very unpleasant and bordering on wrong. Now if I were NOT GOES & TSA PRE Check (plus a Diamond Medallion) I can see the need for this enhanced screening. How about a fix for this?

If the metal detector is working, even if I opt out or “it” selects me for enhanced screening, if I can produce my trusted traveler info and have TSA Pre Check on my boarding pass, show I am an airline elite, then IMO no need for the “man massage”. How about we wipe my hands and luggage with the bomb sniffing machine first. If that is 100% clear send me on my way. If that goes off, ok massage me then.

Delta Air Lines 737-900ER photos delta points travel blog (68)

Clearly I am NOT a threat to anyone (other than requesting the occasional geek photo in the cockpit that is). The only threat I am is to the supply of Woodford on-board the flight. There has to be a way to add a step to avoid pat downs for those who do not need them.

What do you think – should all with TSA Pre Check always “opt out” if not selected for pre check? Is there a tech way or a human way to remove the need for enhanced screenings or due to all the stuff going on around the world I am being too picky and should “man up” and take it if I choose to avoid the full body scanners? – René

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reminders string on finger

I have to admit it – I am guilty of putting things off. I am especially bad when it comes to paperwork. My desk is often a cluttered mess. You know the old joke I used to defend this bad process? No, well here it is:

Guy walks in to visit his lawyer and sees the desk covered in papers and sternly says to his advocate:

You know sir, a cluttered desk is a cluttered mind!

Then the lawyer gets a smirk on his face, smiles, and looks back at the client and simply says:

Yes, but what then is an empty desk?

But in all seriousness, there are a bunch of things you need to do and the reason you have a “string on your finger” to remind you about. Here are some you should think about doing right now as they don’t take long to get out of the way (& I promise to clean up my desk while you do).

1) Freeze your ARS & IDA. US Bank is a strange animal. We all want EZ approvals. If you do not take the steps to freeze your ARS & IDA you will get many less approvals or at least many less without much more work. Just do this!

2) Getting an EIN number. If you are planning on going for any  “business credit cards”  having an EIN, if nothing more than for banking reasons, is a smart move.

3) Update all your info at “My Delta”. From your trusted traveler, your Delta Reserve AMEX  “Airline Travel Card” number and so much more please take the time to make sure all the pages at Delta are current, complete, correct and up to date.

4) CrossoverRewards & Skybonus. The horrid train wreck that is Skymiles2015 is on the way. 96% of us are going to earn MUCH less (unless they smarten up and fix things). So, it is your own fault if you don’t sign up for CrossoverRewards and enjoy those extra perks (if you qualify) and the same goes for Skybonus if you have a business and spend at least $5000 per year total for you and your employees who will be on YOUR Skybonus account.

5) Check your credit report (no charge, not an affiliate link). I know, I know it is such a pain. Just do this. Do me a favor right now. Just put a reoccurring reminder every 4 months in your phone to ping you to check one of the 3 every 4 months. Takes like 5 minuets of your life to download and check and read over the report and maybe see something that could change your life that is if someone is applying for credit or such using your info. Even if just something small is wrong it could affect your ability to get points cards every 91+ days or so.

6) Get a KLM Flying Blue account / number. Go now and sign up for a free account. I just always do this and not just for Delta. If I am already on a business class or higher award ticket, why not put in a partner frequent flyer’s number into the account. There are many times I get FB credit when flying a Delta business class award ticket. Same goes for other airlines. Just find a program you like and input that number for that trip before or when you check in.

7) Sign up for Twitter. You may say I don’t tweet. Sigh, you should and just do it. If for no other reason than for @DeltaAssist when you need it. You will thank me when you need it and they are there to help. Same goes for other Skyteam partners KLM & AF. Their twitter support, as of late, really is very good. You are only hurting YOU if you don’t do this. Oh and follow DeltaPoints and DeltaMileageRun when you are opening the new account!

8) Sign up for DeltaPoints via e-mail once a day. There are almost 6,000 who get the once a day e-mail of the latest blog posts. I mean you should check the blog a few times a day as there are often deals that are dead by the time the e-mail goes out the next day but at least you can catch up on what you missed if you are an e-mail subscriber!

9) Call and request the free Chip-N-Signature Delta AMEX “Airline Travel card“. I have it for both of my Delta AMEX Reserve cards. They do work in both domestic and international card readers and will just spit out a receipt for you to sign. Now on automated machines you still can need a PIN code but there is no charge for this and it is smart to upgrade (I see no reason not to)!

10) Download the Delta Fly APP. They have the APP for all the major platforms and if you are not using it you are missing out. They keep updating it and it is slowly getting better and better. It is even a little fast booting for those of us who have maybe a dozen or more booked itineraries.

So there you are. I know this is a long list. I am sure NO ONE who reads Delta Points has to do all 10 of them anyway (if you do, shame on you)! So please take the time to make sure you are good to go on all of them. Have all these done, give yourself a kudos and shout out in the comments. Heck, why not shame yourself and tell us how many you still have to do :-) – René

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Posted by rene | 9 Comments

NYC free

I have been waiting to post about the news that Delta has, due to competition from a superior product (Mint or AA), backpedaled on something I have blogged about HERE and HERE and HERE and a bunch more. The idea that flyers will pay more for Delta’s product when they can connect and have an upgrade chance or fly another airline was ridiculous. Delta’s move shows they are scared of mass defection of top HVCs! And if I lived or wanted to get to NYC direct transcon from LAX/SFO/SEA I would be either on another airline or connecting via ATL (at least under the current Skymiles as it is worth it).

So why did I wait to post about this news? I had some follow up questions to the new Skymiles rep but was told the same stock answer all the other bloggers have received, that is basically this is a test, it is when they feel like it, and don’t bank on this being official any time soon. Nothing more could be shared for now. What a way to implement a major policy; I am sure it makes you swell with trust in Delta Air Lines! I wanted to know:

  • Just how these upgrades will be processed.
  • How will it work with the Delta APP.
  • Will the DM & PM line be able to put these requests in.
  • When will it show up on Delta.com in print.

After that I now also would also like to know what about SWU (old ones) and if now, since this IS again an upgradeable route, can we use Regional Upgrade certs as burning a Global Upgrade is to me the same as setting it on fire. Lastly how much of this choice for upgrade is computer driven and what is human driven; along with that, is it based on some REV MGT. equation? I could go on and on but I doubt we are going to hear more about this as they test this mess out.

The “facts” seem to be DM & PM can request this upgrade 6 hrs before flight. Skyclub requests work. The rest of the ways should work but again we have no real direction as this is not really official as you will not find it on Delta.com, the real source for accurate Delta medallion information.

Don’t get me wrong, this is going in the right direction. The choice to not allow upgrades for ANY medallions is just ridiculous. Offering it only to DM & PM is fine as I doubt very many GM or FOs have a shot at these slots anyway due to the medallion heavy loads on these routes.

The only thing this shows me, and that we can all hope for, is that once Skymiles2015 hits flyers in the face, Delta will be smart enough to backpedal the same way and fast! – René

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photo of e-cigarette use

I am the worst kind of anti-smoke person as I am an ex-pack-and-a-half a day smoker; I really hate cigarette smoke. Smelling it gives me an instant headache that lasts all day long and I quit over 25 years ago. Even sitting next to someone who just smoked is enough to cause me pain. So take this post from that viewpoint, that is from one who would be happy to never ever see a tobacco product ever again smoked by a living human.

deltaassist e-cig tweet 1

Enter a tweet from follower Christopher to me and to Delta Assist both telling about a passenger who “smoked” (it is not fire but vaping) an e-cigarette on a Delta Jet the other day.

deltaassist e-cig tweet 2

And then, reading from this multi-part tweets, we see Delta Assist stating Delta’s stand that e-Cigs are not OK on Delta jets.

you can not use e-cigs on delta jets per sky magazine june 2014

And if you look in the back of any of this years Sky magazines you will also see that Delta states that cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, as well as e-Cigs are not allowed on Delta jets (I cannot find any updated info yet on Delta.com).

Supporters of vaping strongly feel the vapor from their nicotine delivery devices has no ill effect on others. The science on this is yet to be proven and clearly being in the anti-smoking camp I am happy to err on the side of ban till we know. I’m not willing to accept the manufacturers’ marketing claims that these products are not harmful to others.

I also get the additional info Delta Assist shared, that is it could confuse people to allow these kinds of e-cigs and perhaps someone may think it is a real cigarette and decide to blaze up as well.

What do you think readers? Do you have a stand pro or con for these new e-Cigs? Do you feel they should be allowed in public places or say in an airport or on a Delta jet? – René

PS – Don’t forget SWAG Saturday is live for a shot at a $54 AMAZON gift card this week!

 

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Posted by rene | 14 Comments

mfg back in the day

Last week I blogged about the shutdown of using Vanilla One cards to load your Bluebird cards at Walmart. This resulted in a TON of panicked emails. Some of them were something like this:

  • I have thousands in AMEX gift cards what do I do?
  • I have tons of Vanilla One gift cards what do I do?
  • Will Walmart shut down all loading from VDGCs next?

First off, as recently as this Sunday, I have confirmation from a reader that a US Bank VDGCs from Kroger worked just fine loading in. I have no more room to load anything to my or Lisa’s Bluebird so I can test nothing for a while but readers are a great source for data.

So what if you are holding a bunch of AMEX gift cards? Look for MetaBank or other ones but if you are worried test small i.e. say with just one $500 card.

If you are “stuck” with a bunch of VO VDGCs what can you do? First off, these are not worthless; you just spend them. Just pay bills like a normal credit card etc. If you feel you MUST unload them readers are telling me you can buy US Bank VDGCs at Kroger with the VO gift cards but again not the best choice.

Then on to the last one, what if Walmart shuts this down. Do know officially they don’t allow gift cards but we know they work. They could do as many of the Vanilla reload sales places do and just impose the rules and send out a memo and then it would be mostly game over (other than the Money Center Machines one would think). So,making sure you never hold more AMEX gift cards or VDGCs than you can live with spending in other ways is key. I tend to be conservative this way as I never take on more than I can be stuck with.

Always expect things to get harder but as they do, we will do what we can to always find another way! – René

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Posted by rene | 10 Comments

book blank pages

Medallions and other Delta high value customers as well as Delta CO-branded American Express “airline travel cards” all come with a lengthy list of published benefits. Last week I talked about million milers and how they sometimes are more appreciated by Delta than other flyers. However there is an equally long list of unpublished benefits, perks and advantages Delta occasionally or fairly regularly extends to flyers that will not appear on Delta.com or anywhere else (well, other than on DeltaPoints)!

Like what? There are a bunch, but here are a few:

  • Better access to low level award seats
  • Porsche rides gate to gate
  • Preferred baggage handling & trip tracking
  • Waived fees
  • Hotel vouchers
  • Food vouchers
  • Soft landings for medallion status
  • Medallion status itself
  • Even more hush hush perks

Many of these perks are sometimes extended to Diamond medallion or Delta 360 flyers that is those who the airline views as the most valuable customers and biggest dollar spenders with Delta. Others just have to be asked for and they will sometimes happily help or other times begrudgingly assist.

Better access to low level award seats is one of the many reasons I keep my Delta AMEX Reserve card “airline travel card” . I have yet to get the coveted Porsche ride between gates but I tend to book long layovers to enjoy Skyclubs (and other much better clubs) along the way. We all know Skyteam elite+’s bags get special handling, but there is even more beyond that as well as someone monitoring your trip (in case of issues to proactively fix them). Stuck at the airport – nope – you get a hotel voucher as well as food from Delta. Miss your medallion level by a a few (or a bunch) of MQMs? To me, it is amazing that you can spend enough with Delta or a Delta AMEX and you will keep your status or flat out have a nice status level gifted to you by the airline.

Now I know you are thinking and want to ask me what you have to do to get these perks yourself and what are the requirements; did I mention these are unpublished perks so the airline is very reluctant to even acknowledge they happen let alone tell lowly ME what is needed to get something that they don’t talk about happening (thus the graphic I chose above ;-) )!

Some of the reasons these are not published perks is that they are not always extended to HVC’s. But all of these do happen and sometimes quite often. Have you had some unexpected perks extended to you? – René

PS – Don’t forget SWAG Saturday is live for a shot at a $54 AMAZON gift card this week!

 

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