Tag Archives: travel

Fill up at the rental car counter or at the gas pump?

hertzWhen you rent a car, you’re bombarded with questions from upgrades to insurance. I always say no to everything including the gas, but I recently thought twice about saying yes. The salesman told me the pre-pay gas price was cheaper than nearby gas stations. The price of gas seemed cheap on the sign behind the counter, but I wasn’t willing to take the risk. After all, I’ve always been told to say no to all the add-ons at the rental car counter. How did I know the gas at the counter really was cheaper?

As a consumer reporter, I have a natural skepticism toward the rental car salesman. I’ve done stories with drivers who dropped off their car flawless only to be billed later for damages they say they didn’t cause. Some companies are even requiring receipts for gas to make sure you fill up the tank close to the airport and don’t get a few extra miles out of that full tank of gas.

On my way back to the airport, I filled up at a nearby gas station. The price I paid was a few cents more than the one I saw previously posted at the airport rental car counter. It made me think. Maybe this was something to consider the next time I rent a car.

Before I do it, or suggest you do it, ask many questions. Make sure the price listed is the TOTAL price you will pay per gallon. Make sure there are not additional taxes or fees. Also, ask if that price is valid regardless of whether you need a full or half tank of gas. Finally, get the offer in writing to make sure you won’t be charged later.

I wasn’t ready to experiment with this during my last rental, but I might explore it next time around. I’ll at least ask a few questions to consider whether it’s really a good deal.

Tweet your way to customer satisfaction

airline lineThere is an art to complaining, and I’ve always tried to emphasize that to consumers who call me for help. If you don’t approach the situation properly, you may be your own worst enemy and end up with no resolution. How the times have changed. I started out in the business teaching people how to complain properly in writing, and then with online disputes, and now it’s turned to social media disputes. If used effectively, Twitter and Facebook are great tools to get customer satisfaction.

Facebook and Twitter have evolved into sounding boards and real time reflections of a company’s customer satisfaction. Companies are beginning to realize they need to manage their social media pages. Some businesses are better than others in dealing with this new frontier in customer service.

Recently, I put social media complaints to the test. We were flying back to Kansas City, and of course it was snowing in Cleveland. Many airline sites now allow you to track the history of your plane, so you can see if it’s on time or delayed in another part of the country. I noticed that our plane was delayed in Canada and still had to go to New York and New Hampshire before making its way to Cleveland. Based on the available data, I knew our plane was going to be four to five hours late.

I called the airline and tried to use the old fashioned version of customer service. After waiting on the phone for a half hour, I got a representative who offered me no help. She just repeated what the computer said. The plane was on a short delay, even though digging deeper on that same computer system showed at least a four hour delay based on all the cities that plane had to visit before Cleveland.

There was another plane leaving for Kansas City just two hours after our scheduled flight. I asked for seats on that plane. I was told that wasn’t possible.

Out of complete desperation, I got on Twitter and shared my travel story making sure I mentioned the airline. Within minutes, I got a direct message from the airline asking me for my reservation #. I sent it back to the airline, and they asked if I wanted to get on the 8 PM flight. Within 30-40 minutes, I had two seats on the 8 o’clock flight.

Once it was resolved, I tweeted my satisfaction showing the airline I appreciated what they did.

When we arrived at the airport to depart Cleveland, we saw long lines of frustrated passengers trying to rearrange their flights with customer service. People were waiting in line and on the phone. I wanted to get on the loud speaker and tell all those people to hang up and get out of line and get online. Sharing your travel nightmare on Twitter or Facebook is quick, easy, and the best way to get customer satisfaction.

Airline social media pages are full of customers who are asking for help, and full of responses from the airlines. While many airlines monitor their social media page, some companies don’t respond to these types of complaints. Some consumers say their complaints are even erased from some Facebook pages.

I think companies need to improve their social media response efforts, so the expectation of a response is more uniform. That being said, customers also need to improve their attitudes toward companies.

I’ve always found that you’re more likely to achieve a resolution if you put aside your deepest hatred for the company. Keep a level head, and share your story in a concise and friendly manner. Don’t be accusatory or sarcastic. Just use straight-forward language and sell yourself as an appealing and appeasble customer.

Next time you have a problem, try social media. You might be surprised at the response.

A new hotel amenity?

iPhone 4Every time I go out of town, I inevitably forget something. Usually it’s something small like a toothbrush. Sometimes I improvise or I ask the front desk for one of their small, complimentary brushes. This last out of town trip, I forgot my phone chargers. Without them, there’s not much you can do. My forgetfulness made me thing of a money-making tool for hotels.

My photographer and I joked with the front desk staff about our forgetfulness. Neither one of us had a phone charger and we had three phones to charge.

The hotel said they used to have a box of random chargers, but they found they were getting old. I guess as we advance in the digital age, people are getting wiser and forgetting their cords in the hotel room less.

The hotel scrambled in the back and found an iPhone charger. Only it was for the older model phones and didn’t fit my iPhone 5 plug. Luckily, the one  employee had an Android version in her car that fit our phones. She went out to her car and let us borrow it until her shift was over.

I thought my iPhone was simply toast until a staff member stopped me the next morning as I grabbed my takeout breakfast. She called me by name and asked if I was still looking for an iPhone charger. I was stunned that this woman not only remembered my plight, but found me a new iPhone 5 charger.

This experience got me thinking. Hotels should buy the basic chargers for phones, and charge guests $3-5 to use the charger for a night. I bet that would be quite the business with so many forgetful travelers. I would definitely pay to use a phone charger. Luckily, I stayed at a hotel with staff willing to lend me their own personal charges. I doubt every hotel would do that. Your choice at that point – a dead phone or go pay full price for a new charger.

hotel selling itemsSome hotels are making it a business to sell you products. Some hotels want you to buy their hair dryer, pillows, shower head and so on. I was stunned when I stayed at a hotel in Boston, and saw little stickers on all the products in the room including the hair dryer. Do people really fall that in love with the hair dryer at a hotel that they want to buy it?

There was an entire catalog full of hotel products you could purchase for your home including an alarm clock and lamp. I wonder how many of these products the hotels sell.

hotel selling stuffInstead, I wish they’d sell me a phone charger for a few hours. That’s all I need and want when I go to a hotel.

Airport parking that won’t break your travel budget

When most people book a flight, they search and search for the cheapest fare. With airfares skyrocketing, people are holding out longer. Some are even driving several hours to a different airport to save money. Once you book that flight, are you applying the same research tools to save money on parking? Spend ten minutes before you leave for the airport to save big bucks.

We drove to Pittsburgh for our wedding and honeymoon because Cleveland flights are simply astronomical. We saved $600 just on our return trip by flying out of Pittsburgh rather than Cleveland, but our return flight didn’t arrive until almost midnight. We didn’t want to drive home at that hour, and we were going to be gone for sixteen days. With a hotel and parking, it doesn’t take long for the expenses to eat away at your savings.

Sixteen days of parking at the airport would cost $128. I tried to find my normal $50 hotel, but had no luck. Once the Priceline price tag reached around $90, I began looking for other options.

Many airport hotels offer great discounts on parking and hotels. They’re called a Park, Sleep, Fly package and can save you big bucks. There’s an entire Park, Sleep, Fly website that helps you find the deals. We paid $128 with taxes for 16 days parking, a night’s stay, breakfast, and shuttle to/from the airport. You can’t beat that.

I highly suggest this option if you can’t find a good deal for a hotel room on Priceline. When I say good deal, I mean $50-75. I never pay more than that in a big city for any hotel room. Call around and you might be able to save even more by doing a price comparison of hotels.

If you don’t want to sleep, call some of these hotels that offer packages. They may charge you a reduced or flat fee to just park your car for the duration of your trip. At last check, there are some airport hotels in the Cleveland area that offer reduced parking rates. Plus, they’ll transport you to the airport. Just check, because sometimes these shuttles run only once an hour.

Just like you shop around for that airfare, do the same for parking whether you are travel for the holidays or a vacation any time of year.

Picture perfect honeymoon or vacation – best research sites

When you’re planning a wedding, there’s a lot of back and forth with the vendors. You visit the reception hall and go over every last detail. You know what to expect that day and know how everything will look. While your wedding day is a big moment, the reception you planned for months only lasts a few hours. The weeks that follow are just as important. Your honeymoon lasts more than just a few hours. It can last more than a week. Yet, you plan it without ever visiting and often without ever speaking to anyone. You’re at the mercy of others to make sure every detail is as perfect as you ever imagined. So, here’s my tips to a picture perfect honeymoon.

We planned our honeymoon entirely on the reviews of other honeymooners and travelers on TripAdvisor.  It’s my #1 travel site, and I check it all the time for hotels in the United States or resorts in another part of the world. You know the worst thing that may happen on your trip, and you know the best parts of the resort or hotel.

We originally booked our honeymoon to Antigua. It was a small resort, and got good reviews. When you’re planning a wedding, you want to get the big details planned as quickly as possible. We saw a sale for the resort we were considering, and booked it early on. We were very excited and even told people we were heading to Antigua.

A few months later, the excitement faded. As we researched what we would do during our time in Antigua, we realized there may not be enough activities to keep us busy. Funny, considering we did very little on our honeymoon. When you’re planning, you still have energy and can’t imagine sitting on a beach for a week even though that’s exactly what we needed after months of planning.

We explored other honeymoon options and saw a review of top honeymoon islands. St. Lucia topped it. We began looking at the island, and we were sold. There are volcanoes, nice beaches, snorkeling, scuba, and culture. It ranks as one of the most romantic islands.

Our haste to book our honeymoon cost us $50 to cancel our reservation to Antigua. Not a big deal considering the amazing time we had in St. Lucia. It was the best choice possible. My advice to you: don’t rush into a decision. Your honeymoon is a big detail, but it’s small enough that it can wait until you have time to truly explore and decide on the best option for you.

So many people are looking for something different on their honeymoon. Some people take short trips, others long. Some people want to explore, others sit on the beach. First, decide your wants and needs. Then, search for that perfect destination.

Sunset from our room at Jalousie Plantation

We settled on Jalousie Plantation in St. Lucia, and had an amazing time.  Beyond the accommodations, you need to consider the food. I’ve stayed at some budget resorts, and the food gets old real fast. At Jalousie, it was amazing night after night whether you ate at the high end restaurant or the budget one by the beach. All inclusive is the way to go. The last thing you want to worry about on your honeymoon is money. You should order the entree, or two like my husband did one night, that you want rather than the one that fits your budget.

Do your research. Don’t assume your resort has good beach access. Some have amazing views in St. Luica, but they don’t have a beach. At our resort, they bussed in other hotel guests. They were relegated to a small part of the beach without bad chairs. If they wanted a good one, they had to pay handsomely. They were on such a small part of the beach, we wouldn’t have known they were there if we didn’t see them all walking down the mountain from the drop off point at the resort every day.

Kendry – Guide for Real St. Lucia Tours

We saved a ton of money because we did our research before we left. We found an amazing tour company, Real St. Lucia Tours. Their tours are custom and half the price of our resort. We booked a custom tour to chocolate plantations, volcano, mud bath, nearby fishing village, etc. for six hours for $85. That’s so cheap considering it costs me $15 in a cab to drive less than ten minutes in the United States. The driver also showed other points of interest and made it a day we’ll always remember. Do your research and skip the tours at the hotel.

Boucan drinks – Hotel Chocolat – St. Lucia – $40 cab drive from our nearby hotel unless you hire a driver

If you don’t plan ahead, you’re stuck guessing which company to choose when you arrive. If you don’t want to go with the hotel, taxis are your other option. They are expensive. When we asked the hotel how much it would cost to go anywhere, the answer was $40. Even if it was 10 minutes down the road. They know you don’t know that it’s that close, so everything costs $40. A lot of tourist pay this price because they don’t have another option because they didn’t do their research before their trip. When we went out with Real St. Lucia Tours to some of the chocolate plantations, I couldn’t believe other tourists paid $40 to visit them because they were so close to our resort.

Boating near Pitons in St. Lucia

If you want to head out on the water, you need to look beyond Real St. Lucia Tours. They only offer land trips. You can take a water taxi, but they are expensive. We heard some travelers who used them and enjoyed their trip, but they are pricey adventures. You can wheel and deal with the water taxis that sit on the shore all day waiting for a customer, but they don’t discount their rides that significantly.

We only took one water tour and felt a bit ripped off. We hadn’t done our research, so we booked it through the hotel.

View from room at Jade Mountain

Through our research, we also knew where to spend all our money. We wanted to splurge one night, and did just that at Jade Mountain. Based on the reviews on TripAdvisor, we knew we would have amazing views and a night to remember.

If you’re headed to Europe, I would use TripAdvisor. We’re using it to book a trip to New Zealand. However, I’d also grab a travel guide book like Fodor’s. It will be your Bible for your entire trip as you’re traveling. Those books never left my hand when I traveled through Europe. You need a quick guidebook for last minute questions, accommodations, and sights to see when you are on the go in Europe.

You need to review traveler comments with a bit of skepticism. A traveler is more likely to leave a negative comment than a positive one. However, they offer insight we didn’t have ten years ago. Reviews should not be underestimated. They are priceless tools to help you book a trip. TripAdvisor happens to be my favorite. Which one is yours?

Jet Blue giving free flights out of the country if your Presidential candidate loses the election

The election is a month away and voting is already a circus in Ohio. Every morning as I was to work past the Board of Elections, there are a dozen or so people and their signs trying to sway voters. Early voting is strong in Ohio, and it’s top of mind for many with one interesting debate in the record books. JetBlue is jumping into the action and offering free flights to more than a thousand voters whose candidate doesn’t win. (It’s advertising 2012 seats, but it’s 1006 roundtrip flights).

The program is called Election Protection and allows you to enter to win a free trip out of the country if your candidate doesn’t win. To enter, you need to select  a candidate and an international destination. Your options include the following: Bermuda, St. Maarten; St. Lucia; Barbados; Dominican Republic (Samana, Santiago, Santo Domingo, La Romana, Punta Cana, or Puerto Plata); Nassau, Bahamas; Cancun, Mexico; Costa Rica (either Liberia or San Jose); Aruba; Colombia (either Cartagena or Bogota); Grand Cayman; Jamaica (either Kingston or Montego Bay); or Turks & Caicos.

To register, Facebook was the only available option when I played around with it. Just know you are giving up your Facebook profile information to enter the contest. I know a lot of companies do this, but it’s also a privacy issue. Just understand what you are doing when you sign up.

If your candidate loses you get one entry into the Sweepstakes. You can’t enter more than once. 1,006 winners will be randomly selected on or around November 7th. You’ll be notified by email.

The winners get a travel certificate for the base fare of a roundtrip JetBlue flight originating within the U.S. to one of the cities listed above.

Of course there is a slight catch. You don’t have long to travel. You have to take your vacation between January 8, 2013 and February 13. My guess for the small timeframe – the beginning of the new year is a slow travel time right before Spring Break.

Also, you’ll need to pay the taxes and fees which is customary with most of these awards. If you want a free vacation and don’t mind sharing your political affiliation and Facebook profile with the airline, this might be for you.

What do you think of this marketing gimmick? Click comment below.


Saving on airfare: Frequent flier miles, airfare sales, and low fare guarantees

Airfares are sky high right now for certain airports. If you live in Ohio, you’ll pay some of the highest fares in the country. Cincinnati charges the highest prices, and Cleveland follows in ninth place. There are some things you can do to reduce the price, but don’t expect as many options as in the past.

Fares go on sale on Tuesday and Wednesday, however, they are not that good anymore. Most weeks the big airports and major routes are discounted, and that’s it. Occasionally, you’ll have a system wide sale.

Right now, there is an airfare sale on American, Air Tran, Southwest, and Delta. The airlines are advertising $60-80 one way flights. Don’t get too excited. The routes with those fares are hard to find in Northeast Ohio.

The sale on Delta is very exclusive and only includes departures from Atlanta and Detroit. The sale on American doesn’t offer many good flights out of Cleveland. Air Tran is offering some discounted rates out of Akron Canton Airport.  You can go to Atlanta for $99 one way, and New York LaGuardia for $104 one way.

With most sales, the cities are selective and there are a lot of blackout dates. Don’t expect these airfares to be good for travel around the holidays. You’ll pay top dollar to fly then, unless you fly on the holiday. I noticed some of the blackout dates don’t include the holiday itself. For example, Air Tran’s blackout days are several days before and after the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s holiday but the actual day itself is not a blackout date. Consider flying on the holiday to save.

Fares are so high anything under $300 is really a good deal. If you are flying out of Cleveland, the average airfares is $450.

Cashing in frequent flier miles
You can also consider cashing in frequent flier miles. Depending on the airline and when you decide to cash them in you may get a good value for your miles or you may not. It depends on the airline and when you’re traveling. It is still possible to get a good deal for your miles over the holidays is still possible.

Our trip to visit family over the holidays typically costs us $300. I think we paid $350 one year. This holiday the price is $575. It hasn’t budged, and I don’t expect it will. Nonstop flights out of Cleveland stay pretty consistent. At least for the routes I fly, because I check them all the time.

I couldn’t stomach paying $575 per ticket to fly home for the holidays. I looked at other airports, and nothing really worked for our schedule. The savings at alternate airports wouldn’t make much of a difference when you take into consideration the extra time. Plus, around the holidays you could hit bad weather in the air or on the ground so we wanted to minimize our travel.

I decided to look into the possibility of cashing in my miles. I never thought it would even be possible because the airlines have cut back on frequent flier mile availability and you have to book these trips far in advance. Also, as the prices have gone up some airlines have increased the number of miles you need for a reward.

I booked a reward trip this spring for a trip to Florida in May and needed 40,000 miles because the airfare was around $400. I was desperate so I cashed in my miles, but 40,000 is double what you should need for a roundtrip airfare.

When I looked for the holidays, I was fully expecting to use 40,000 miles again. It was a different airline than my trip in May, and I was shocked to find I only needed 20,000. I couldn’t believe it. So, I booked the reward trip and we bought one ticket at $575. It’s still a lot of money, but I’d rather pay $575 for one ticket than two.

You really need to watch the fares everyday. Setup an airfare alert through a travel site like Airfarewatchdog or FareCompare. You will be alerted when the sales are in effect for your routes. Finally, look at cashing in miles or alternate airports to save money.

Low fare guarantees
Should you buy or should you wait? Some travel experts say there are flash sales if the plane doesn’t fill up, but it’s risky to wait. It is an option for you, though. Just watch the seat map to see if the seats are selling. Most booking sites have a link to the seat map next to the fare.

Airfarewatchdog founder, George Hobica, also recommends buying on an airline that will refund your money if the fare later drops. This means you have to keep checking that fare after you book it. You won’t get cash back, but you’ll get a credit. Still better than nothing.

Airfarewatchdog said Southwest, Airtran, Alaska, and JetBlue allow you to get a credit toward the fare difference. There is not a written policy for some of these airlines, but you can rebook your travel without any extra fees and you’ll get a credit for the difference. The airfare alert site put together a chart with the policies. Many of the other airlines charge $150 to make a change to your itinerary.

Saving on summer travel

Trying to book a summer vacation? You want to plan early, and look at every option possible. It’s like a perfect storm of fewer flights and high gas prices. The result — sky-high airfares. Just what I don’t need for my guests at my destination wedding this summer.

I’ve been checking the three major cities where our guests will be departing to alert them to good deals. Out of Kansas City, I’ve found some decent fares on Air Tran. These days, anything below $300 is a good fare even if it’s barely below $300.

That’s rule #1 – don’t expect to fly for less than $300 this year. If you get a flight cheaper, you’ll feel like you got a bargain. If you pay a little more, you won’t feel too ripped off.

Some airports are nearly impossible to find deals. For example, Hartford, CT is notoriously an expensive airport to fly through. For me, it’s a must because that’s where my family lives. It’s not worth the savings to fly to Boston or New York because those airports present entirely different travel headaches.

The average fare to my wedding out of Hartford is $400-500. What’s odd is that it doesn’t matter if you’re flying Memorial Day weekend, which is a busy travel weekend as it kicks off summer, or a random week in August. The flights are exactly the same, and they’re not budging.

Despite the high airfares to Florida out of Hartford, there are deals to other cities. Rule #2 – you might just have to be flexible with your travel cities. I found a random flight for just over $150 to fly to Cleveland, and Hopkins is an expensive airport to fly in and out of as well. Look beyond your normal travel destinations and you might find a summer deal.

Rule #3 – keep searching. The night before I found the $150 deal, the flight was $200 higher. It’s unreal how they fluctuate. The flight wasn’t full so clearly they were trying to sell seats, but are these constant swings really necessary? I don’t have time to check fares every day.

Airfare alerts are a great way to stay on top of the deals. I like Airfarewatchdog  and FareCompare. I also sign up for deal alerts from the airlines. They’ll take some of the guessing out of it for you.

If you’re really desperate to get somewhere and flexible, name your own price on Priceline. I like the site, but haven’t bid on an airfare in years. Too many times, I got burnt with long layovers and endless flights. There is a bit of a price if you want to save money. Remember, time is money.

Rule #4 – if you want to cash in on frequent flier miles expect to pay dearly. Ignore the mileage charts because they don’t even make sense. The days of 25,000 mile round trip frequent flier trips are gone.

I have to get down to Florida Memorial Day weekend for some wedding logistics, so I have to cash in miles for the trip. It’s that or pay $500+ for the trip. According to the mileage chart, it should cost me 12,000-30,000 miles for an airfare. The real cost is 40,000 miles. The chart shows 12,000 as a low and 30,000 as a high. So, what’s 40,000? Extremely overpriced!

According to the same chart, those 40,000 miles should get me to Central America. That would be on the high-end. The high-end for Hawaii is 45,000 miles. I ran a bunch of date combinations and it didn’t seem to matter when you were flying. Expect to pay 40,000 miles.

There are 12,000 mile flights, but they are few and far between. You might have to fly odd times, to odd airports, or different airlines.

It’s the new reality as airfares are sky-high, so the cost of getting one for free is sky-high. Just enjoy the free flight, and don’t think about how many flights you had to take to get that free one.

Southwest owns Air Tran – when will travelers see changes?

Continental and United Airlines just completed their merger, and customers are still feeling the effects. I spent more than an hour on hold the other night waiting for someone help me merge my frequent flier accounts. Slight variations in the two accounts previously made me unable to do it myself. Now, get prepared for round two. Southwest and Air Tran are finalizing their merger plans and consumers will start seeing changes soon.

Right now, Air Tran is a subsidiary of Southwest airlines. However, it takes time to fully transition with two companies this size. On March 1st, the two airlines received a single operating certificate from the FAA making the merger one step closer.  However, the two airlines will continue to operate independently for ticketing and frequent flier issues until all systems are integrated. It could take another year or so, but you will see changes this year.

The website promoting the merged airlines, “Spreading Low Fares Farther” recently changed. Now, there’s very little information this site. If you have questions or need more information, the links send you to Southwest’s site as Southwest bought Air Tran.

In the first half of this year, Southwest will also rebrand Air Tran planes by painting the Southwest color scheme and adopting the single class seating configuration on Air Tran flights.

Eventually the reservation, ticketing, web system, and frequent flier programs will merge.

The next issue – will Southwest and Air Tran both stay in the Cleveland / Akron market. Right now, the companies say they are dedicated to the communities they serve. However, reports from some cities say there have been service losses do to the merger. USA Today says 15 cities learned they’re losing Air Tran service and not picking up Southwest flights.

So far Cleveland and Akron have both survived. Time will tell if the fully merged airline keeps flights in two nearby airports. Let’s hope they both remain as already there is not much competition to drive prices lower in the Cleveland market.

While little is changing for the customer at this point, you can take some action. Check your frequent flier accounts with both airlines and make sure they are exactly the same. Make sure your full name is used on both, an no nicknames. Also, check the address. If street is spelled out on one mailing list, make sure it’s spelled out on the other one. I’ve had a lot of problems linking my United and Continental account because of differences in my name. I’ve spent hours on the phone and needed to send in paperwork to prove the changes. So, act now. It will save you time later.

Related links you may like:
Southwest and Air Tran merging – what this means for travelers 
Merging airlines cause customer confusion
Tips to save money on your next airfare
Southwest changes Rapid Rewards program
Don’t fall for Southwest offer on Facebook

TSA program allows you to skip security

Tired of long security lines and the hassle of taking off your shoes, belt, and jacket? If you’re a frequent flier you may be able to avoid the lines and hassle at some airports.

Airlines participating in TSA Pre-Check are sending emails to frequent fliers asking them to opt in to a volunteer pre-screen program that allows you to skip the long security lines.

You can participate if you are flying Delta out of Atlanta, Detroit, Las Vegas, or Minneapolis or on American Airlines out of Dallas, Las Vegas, Miami, LA, or Minneapolis airports.

The program will be added for Delta passengers flying out of Salt Lake City on February 14th and American at JFK on February 28th.

In March, the program expands even more this time to Ronald Reagan Airport if you are flying on Delta and American Airlines in Chicago.

In 2012, participating airlines at the following airports will join the program:  Baltimore / Washington International, Boston, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, George Bush, Honolulu, Indianapolis, JFK, LaGuardia, St. Louis Lambert, New Orleans, Luis Munoz Marin International, Newark, Chicago O’Hare, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland, Ronald Reagan Washington, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa, Anchorage, and Washington Dulles.

While this program aims to expedite security, TSA says it’s not a guarantee. To prevent terrorist acts, there needs to be a certain amount of randomness and unpredictability. A barcode will be embedded on your boarding pass if you are eligible for expedited security and volunteered previously.