Posts Tagged “International Travel”

Let this be a thing of the past with the new Global Entry program. Photo by a href=http://www.flickr.com/photos/theguths/68170598/ target=_blank The Guth Family on Flickr/a.

Let this be a thing of the past with the new Global Entry program. Photo by The Guth Family on Flickr

Nothing is worse than getting off a long international flight, and then spending an hour or more waiting in lines at a busy customs check in point. Now frequent travelers everywhere can rejoice: The US Customs and Border Protection agency has just announced an expansion of their Global Entry program. This program allows international travelers to bypass the customs line when they land at select US airports and enter the country via an electronic kiosk.

Applying for the program costs $100 for 5 years. The application can be found here. (I’ll be applying as soon as I get done writing this post.) You can qualify for the program if you:

  • Are over 14 years of age;
  • Are a citizen or permanent resident of the USA or “certain other countries”;
  • Have a machine-readable passport.
  • Have never been convicted of a criminal offense in any country, especially for customs, agriculture or terrorism-related offenses;
  • Pass the in-person interview conducted by a CBP agent at one of the participating airports.

Should you fail to qualify, your application fee is not returned.

Once you do qualify, you can go to one of the special kiosks where it scans your passport and fingerprints, then answer some questions on the touch-screen. When complete, the machine spits out a receipt that replaces your Customs Declaration Form which you can use to exit the airport and get on with life.

Airports currently served are: ATL, BOS, DFW, DTW, EWR, FLL, HNL, IAD, IAH, JFK, LAS, LAX, MCO, MIA, ORD, PHL, SEA, SFB, SFO, SJU.

Global Entry Program via Today in the Sky

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If you travel internationally, you should read this piece Christopher Elliott, a syndicated travel columnist, posted  on his blog this morning. It is about an April 1 notice by the US Department of Transportation, where they have issued a warning to air carriers about their published limits of liability for items in international checked bags and code-share flights.

In it, the Department of Transportation warns airlines it is illegal for them to exclude their liability for loss of valuable items on international flights as they now do. According to the Montreal Convention, which the USA ratified in 2003, air carriers are liable for losses up to 1000 SDRs of loss or delay of items in any customers’ baggage they accept, so long as the baggage itself or that the damage was not reasonable to prevent.

(An SDR is an international currency unit set by the International Monetary Fund, whose price is determined daily and published on their website. As of Friday, 1000 SDRs was equivalent to about $ 1,500.)

The notice also takes airlines to task for attempting to shirk responsibility for their obligations on code-share flights. The notice states that the airline whose name appears on the ticket is responsible for guaranteeing their level of service for the whole itinerary regardless of the carrier actually supplying the service.

Say you were flying from Milwaukee to Frankfurt Germany on Lufthansa, and you wanted to check two bags. Your itinerary had you flying on LH 5851 to O’Hare, then LH 9151 to Frankfurt. Even though both of those flights are operated by United, you would be treated as a Lufthansa passenger for the whole flight: Meaning United could not charge you their bag fee of $ 40.00 for two checked bags, because Lufthansa allows passengers traveling to and from the US two checked bags for free.

Airlines have 90 days to correct these discrepancies, or the Department of Transportation will begin criminal prosecution of the airlines.

[Government Says Airlines are Responsible for Valuables Checked on International Flights on Elliott.org]

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