Democrat and Chronicle from Rochester, New York on October 19, 2015 · Page B5
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Democrat and Chronicle from Rochester, New York · Page B5

Rochester, New York
Issue Date:
Monday, October 19, 2015
Page B5
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Page B5 article text (OCR)

USA TODAY—DEMOCRATANDCHRONICLE MONDAY,OCTOBER19,2015 E3 5B TRAVEL In the wake of a major move toward making expedited security lines available only to those who’ve applied for the privilege, some frequent fliers are experiencing a shorter wait. But opportunities for fliers to sign up are also increasing, so road warriors fret that tra c jams at airport screening points will continue. TSA’s PreCheck, which started in October 2011, promises fliers a quicker pass through security at more than 150 U.S. airports since they don’t have to take o their s hoes, light jackets or belts and c an leave laptops and liquids in their bags. T o take advantage of the sped- u p screening, travelers must fill out an application and schedule an appointment during which they provide fingerprints, documentation such as a passport or driver’s license and an $85 fee. If approved, their status is good for five years. Those who belong to other trusted traveler programs such as NEXUS or Global Entry can take part in TSA PreCheck without enrolling separately. More than 1.5 million travelers are part of the PreCheck program. Non-enrolled fliers, who’ve been pre-screened, have been allowed to access the expedited lines, frustrating PreCheck members who say those passengers bog down the process and are able to access a perk that others have paid for. The TSA has started to address the issue. On Sept. 13, the agency o cially stopped using behavior detection o cers a nd some other layers of security t o screen non-enrolled fliers for entry to the PreCheck lanes. “ Overall, the agency is now m oving toward o ering TSA Pre- Check expedited screening only to trusted and pre-vetted travelers enrolled in the TSA PreCheck program and is working with a number of partners to expand enrollment in (the) program,” TSA spokesman Bruce Anderson said. Peter Krein, a PreCheck participant and member of USA TODAY’s panel of Road Warriors, said he has seen a noticeable difference at his home airport of San Diego International. “It has been again a pleasure to speed through TSA security without confused non-enrollees wondering why their traveling companions cannot also proceed through PreCheck and then wondering where bins can be found,’’ said Krein, a senior director of medical and scientific a airs, who is based in Carlsbad, Calif. For PreCheck members such as Krein, “a 15-minute wait is c onsidered unacceptable,” he s aid. Although he experienced wait times of 10 to 12 minutes not l ong ago, Krein now clears securi- t y in five to seven minutes at such airports as LAX, Dallas-Fort Worth and Washington Reagan National. USA TODAY Road Warrior Marjorie McLaughlin, a director of library relations management in San Diego, has also noticed a shorter wait time at airports in Philadelphia and Sacramento, as well as Oakland and San Diego. “I’d say I seldom wait more than one to two minutes,’’ she said. “Non-PreCheck travelers are usually less familiar with the routines and caused annoying delays.” Some passengers who haven’t enrolled are still being allowed to join the PreCheck lines. Some frequent fliers said that what’s supposed to be a speedy process remains an annoying slog. Road Warrior Brook Redemann, of Glenview, Ill., says, “When the TSA opened up Pre- C heck to the wider audience of n on-business travelers, any time savings was lost. ... It signi fi cantly i mpacted the frequent business t raveler.’’ SCOTT OLSON, GETTY IMAGES The TSA is moving toward ensuring only those enrolled in TSA PreCheck get to access the expedited security lanes. Some pass engers say wait times have shrunk, but others complain the wait is often still too long. TSA PreCheck changes ease the lines for some There are fewer ‘confused’ travelers in the way, fliers say Charisse Jones USA TODAY Question: Why are some landings so rough and others so smooth, sometimes even on the same plane in similar conditions? —Submitted by reader Betsy Tutchton, Montrose, Colo. Answer: There are many variables in a landing. The target is a constant descent to just above the runway, then to “flare” the airplane, allowing for a gentle touchdown. If a wind gust catches the airplane at the wrong time or if the pilot slightly mistimes the flare or there is turbulence just above the runway, a firm touchdown happens. Under some conditions, a firm touchdown is necessary. When the runway is contaminated, t ouching down fi rmly allows the w heels to spin up and be much b etter at decelerating the air- p lane. When the runway is short, afi rm touchdown is used to maxi mize the braking capability. Q: I do not like flying out of DCA, and the two most recent t imes, the landing was so rough it felt like the plane was going to disintegrate. Are there any stats showing damage or injuries there? —Daphne Poblete, Martinsburg, W.Va. A: Ihave flown in and out of DCA for many years. The runways are relatively short, so it is a place where a pilot wants to precisely place the airplane on the runway to have the necessary stopping distance. I do not remember cases where a hard landing at DCA caused damage. Q: My 757 hit very hard as we landed in FLL. Are the stresses of flight greater than that of a very hard landing? —J.R. Northrup, Oklahoma City A: They can be. A hard landing causes stress on the landing gear. In fl ight, stresses are in the wing a nd tail. John Cox is a retired airline captain with US Airways and runs his own a viation safety consulting company. ASK THE CAPTAIN Ahard landing isn’t necessarily abad one John Cox Special for USA TODAY Check your sources. That’s not j ust a cardinal rule of journalism but also of travel planning. Make sure you get your travel advice from someone knowledgeable and unbiased. Whom can you trust? The holiday travel planning season is in full swing, and shoddy advice surrounds you. Guidebooks, blogs and businesses are all too willing to tell you w here to go and what to buy, but their advice can be in fl uenced by freebies, bonuses or outright incompetence. “Most of the so-called great advice is actually pretty terrible,” says Kelsey Tonner, founder of the Be a Better Guide Project, a s ite that helps train tour guides. Superlatives are a tip-o in his line of work. “If someone breathlessly tells you about an amazing e xperience or a special place and is pushing you to book on the s pot, there’s a pretty good chance they are getting a commission, kickback or helping out a friend,” h e says. Where are the victims, then? Fair question. In fact, there are thousands, perhaps hundreds of t housands, of casualties of the t ainted advice out there — and they don’t even know it. They have no idea their trip could have been so much better if they’d listened to the right source. T errible advice about credit c ards may be the biggest prob- l em. Many blogs that claim to be w ritten by travel “experts” are actually online ads that try to tempt you to sign up for a specific card. O ften they promise big bonuses by instructing users about an ethically dubious practice called manufactured spending. Here’s h ow the trick works: You sign up f or a card, then buy items only for the bonus points you collect with each purchase. You then return or liquidate the merchandise, pocketing the points. If done c arelessly, this questionable strat- e gy for collecting miles could put you deep into debt, not to mention beholden to your chosen loyalty program. Tim Winship, who publishes t he site, says the shills behind these sites receive hundreds of dollars for each card they sell, which dictates t heir editorial agenda. “So much of what now passes f or travel advice on the Web is compromised by these writers’ fi- nancial self-interest,” he says. T he Federal Trade Commission requires bloggers to disclose their a liate relationships, but the cleverest credit card shills h ave figured out a way around t his. They reveal these ties in much the same way tobacco companies publish warnings on a carton of cigarettes: in plain view but in an unmemorable font they k now the reader won’t notice. S tuart McDonald, who pub- lishes a respected travel blog called, says an honest disclosure commands the same attention as the editorial c ontent. In his site’s case, he recently redesigned his pages to give the warnings more prominence, denoting each link with a d ollar sign next to it. “A liate links need to be disc losed to the reader, so they know what they’re doing,” he says. Tainted tips for personal en- r ichment are just one source of bad advice. Another is garden-variety incompetence. That’s the kind of travel advice Paula Miller g ot from her community bank be- f ore she visited Paris recently. She wanted to know if her debit card would work in France. A bank representative said it would not and advised her to bring lots o f cash on her trip and exchange i t. Turns out the card worked and she wasted her money on a pointless exchange. “Incredible ignorance from supposedly trained profession- a ls,” says Miller, an educator from Kitty Hawk, N.C. Part of the problem is us. S omewhere along the way, American travelers lost their healthy s ense of skepticism and began believing anyone with the word “expert” in their title. They didn’t bother asking themselves how much these experts really knew or how they earned a living. In Miller’s case, the community bank may not have been the most authoritative resource about the compatibility of her debit card’s network overseas. When bloggers refer to themselves as “travel experts” or “ thought leaders,” who are we to question them? “Americans defer to experts,” explains Michael Brein, a psychologist who specializes in travel issues. “If they say they’re a guide or an expert or licensed or whatever, we tend to be too trusting and too readily will- i ng to accept or take their word for it.” Perhaps we’re reluctant to offend someone. One of the fastest w ays to tick o a travel agent is to ask what his or her commission is o n a cruise or all-inclusive vacation. Want to question the credibility of a guidebook author? Ask h ow many of the hotels reviewed o ered “free” accommodations in exchange for a favorable mention. Maybe it’s time to start asking t hese questions. If you don’t, the n ext casualty of this bad travel advice could be your vacation. Christopher Elliott is a consumer advocate and editor at large for Nation- a l Geographic Traveler. Contact him at chris@elliott.orgor visit How to spot tainted travel advice Christopher Elliott Special for USA TODAY ON T RAVEL EVERY MONDAY KINEMERO,GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO Guidebooks and blogs are all too willing to tell you where to go and what to buy, but their advice can be influenced by freebies. u Everyone else says “no.” If careful research shows numerous other sour ces contradicting the tips y ou’r e r esearching, odds are the advice is com- pr omised or simply inaccurate . Mo v e on. u Too many “-ests.” H y- perbole is a red flag when it comes to bad advice. Anyone who claims they’ve found the “best” credit card or the “greatest” hotel may have a hidden agenda. Tread carefully. u Follow the money. If you can’t figure out how a so- called “expert” is earning money, maybe there’s more than meets the eye. For example, a “free” tour that conveniently leads you to a restaurant or gift shop suggests the tour guide is earning a kickback fr om the business. HOW TO SPOT BAD ADVICE

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