flying-internationally

Have you been thinking about getting either Global Entry or TSA Pre Check?

If you fly internationally at least once per year, or if you travel domestically several times per year, Global Entry or TSA Pre Check is a great idea.

Global Entry is the US government’s immigration program for frequent travelers that lets you skip long lines at customs and immigration when you arrive back into the country, instead you get to go directly to the Global Entry kiosk, expediting your exit from the customs hall. 

It enables you to get out of the airport quickly, or to your connecting flight speedily.

This is especially beneficial when you are flying into an airport like JFK in New York which is notoriously slow.

It costs $100 for five years, and also gives you TSA Pre Check most of the time.

(apparently around 75% to 80% of the time)

TSA Pre Check allows you to keep your shoes and belt on, your laptop and liquids in your carry on bag, and instead of waiting in long lines you get to zip through the much shorter, quicker Pre Check line.

If you are not an international traveler you can apply for TSA Pre Check for $85.

The process is relatively simple. You fill out your Global Entry application online, pay $100 for Global or $85 for Pre Check (remember Global covers both) and then wait for GOES to notify you of your interview date.

You need to bring your passport and another form of ID as well as a print out of your acceptance email.

If accepted you will be assigned a Known Traveler Number that you put on all your flights when you book them, and that acts as your concierge.

It can take months for you to get your interview, so start the application process sooner rather than later. I have my interview in a couple of weeks, so I’m pretty thrilled!

Air France

In December I flew from Milan to JFK. I had a long layover before my flight to Phoenix which was super lucky for me because the lines at customs was long and slow. At JFK you have to completely exit out into the main terminal and then go back through security to get to your connecting flight. (You would think that New York would have modern, functional airports like other major cities around the world, but JFK and La Guardia are both archaic and somewhat of an embarrassment as far as international airports go).

To make matters worse, the TSA security lines were S-L-O-W. People around me were in tears because they were going to miss their flight, and the Airport workers at JFK are notoriously hostile and angry. It was miserable! 

When I finally got to my gate for my connecting flight I saw other people from my Milan flight who had missed their connections to their home airport because of the long lines, and were desperately trying to find ways to re-route. After a long international flight that is an even bigger nightmare than usual.

So I decided right there and then that I was going to apply for Global Entry. I have another Glam Italia Tour heading out in just a few weeks, and the Glocal Entry plus TSA Pre Check is going to be fantastic!

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Also, before you travel, especially out of the country, I cannot stress enough the importance of having travel insurance.

Should anything go wrong prior to leaving your home country you need to be able to get the money you have already spent on airfares, accommodations, tours etc back. Should anything go wrong while you are away (lost luggage, medical emergency etc) you need to be prepared and taken care of. I always use Allianz travel insurance, and get coverage that pays for a nurse to fly back to the USA with me in case of catastrophic medical emergency. Luckily nothing has ever gone wrong when I’ve traveled, but it’s definitely a good idea to be prepared.

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Did you know that you can be denied a passport, or have your passport revoked if you owe back taxes??

It used to be that each government department stayed in its own lane, but now they are talking to each other, and it can have dire consequences for your travel plans!

This is a law that was passed in December of 2015, but the IRS needed time to get everything together, and now for the past few months the agency has been putting it into action.

 

The FAST Act

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So What Is This Law?

The law is called the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, or the FAST Act. The FAST Act require the IRS to give the State Department a list of people who owe back taxes. The State Department can then deny, revoke, or limit the ability of these people to use their passports.

Supposedly this is just for people who are “seriously delinquent” with their tax debt. How much qualifies as seriously delinquent? It turns out it’s not that much. If you owe $51,000 or more in back taxes (including penalties and fines!) your name goes on the list.

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More About The FAST Act

There is a section in the FAST Act titled Revocation or Denial Of Passport In Case Of Certain Tax Delinquencies

The specifics of this process are spelled out in a section of the FAST Act titled Revocation or Denial of Passport in Case of Certain Tax Delinquencies, which essentially makes using a passport a tool to collect taxes. The law allows the State Department, when notified by the IRS, to revoke, deny or limit passports for anyone the IRS has certified as having seriously delinquent tax debt.

The passport restriction will affect people who owe larger amounts and travel internationally. It will also affect anyone looking to apply for or renew their passports.

How Does It Work?

The IRS will sendthe State Department a Letter 508C, which certifies that you have a seriously delinquent tax debt ($51,000 or more). They will also send a letter to the taxpayer’s last known address. The taxpayer will also be notified about passport restrictions in a separate letter.

RELATED POST: WHY YOU SHOULD RENEW YOUR PASSPORT NOW

Define Seriously Delinquent…

The IRS says any person owing a legally enforceable tax liability of more than $50,000. It may sound like a lot, but it actually includes fines, penalties and interest. Anyone who has been in arrears with their taxes, or knows someone who has, can tell you this adds up quickly!

You must have had a tax lien filed against you and all remedies for lien relief must have lapsed or been denied.

Tax payers have a 90 day process for resolving IRS errors or for getting back in good standing with the IRS.

passport and taxes

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Should You Be Worried?

*If you have ever had to deal with the IRS making a mistake with your taxes before then you may already know how incredibly time consuming and difficult it can be to get the situation fixed. It happened to me once with a business that had been sold. It was an error made by the IRS and it took months to get fixed. They even threatened to take my home! Luckily I was able to get it remedied before it came to that, but under this new law I would have had my passport revoked, lot my Global Entry status, and had a world of additional headaches to contend with!

*Those of you who are divorced probably already know that legally you are responsible for 50% of every stupid or illegal move your ex spouse made during the time you were married. If your ex ran up tax debt prior to your divorce, you own half of it.

*Those of you who are behind on your taxes – it happens! Plenty of people are. Your best bet to save your passport and your ability to travel internationally is to get on a payment plan with the IRS asap.

RELATED POST: 11 CREDIT CARD TIPS FOR INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL

Not Sure If You’re On The List?

If you think there is a chance that you could be on the list don’t wait until your next international trip to find out. Call the National Passport Information Center at 877-487-2778

Check out the Top Ten reasons why people buy Travel Insurance and see if it is right for you.

Is There Relief?

The IRS will consider the following individuals to be excepted from the State Department’s passport restrictions:

    • Those who’ve entered an installment agreement with the IRS to pay their taxes
    • Those who’ve settled their tax debt through an offer in compromise or a Justice Department agreement
    • Those who appeal a tax levy through an IRS collection due process hearing
    • Those who request innocent spouse relief by filing Form 8857


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This article just arrived in my inbox courtesy of Smarter Travel

 

Best and Worst airports in america

I have certain airports that I will not use, no matter what. My most loathed airport in the USA is Chicago O’Hare, largely because in all my years of flying I have never had a successful connection through O’Hare. On the occasions I have had to fly through O’Hare something always goes wrong, whether its delayed flights, planes not arriving, missed connections. Its a nightmare! (If you want to really screw up travel plans, fly United through O’Hare. They are the devil’s duo). No matter how many hundred dollars I can save by flying to Europe through O’Hare I never ever do it.

Related Post: Should You Get Global Entry?

I do disagree with Smarter Travel about some of the items on this list though. I think LAX Tom Bradley terminal is just fantastic. I am thrilled to route any flight through there,and often I start my international flights at LAX. One thing I always notice when using the Bradley terminal is that the workers smile at you. They are polite and friendly. A couple of years ago I flew from Rome to JFK, where everyone was rude and angry, shouting at travelers and being as difficult as humanly possible. Four days later I flew to Australia from LAX and thought I was in a different country! None of the TSA agents or airport workers were hostile, everyone had a smile, and I watched them being friendly and helpful to everyone.

Phoenix Sky Harbor should also be on the good list. Apart from the fact that its my home airport (I live in Phoenix), Sky Harbor is an incredibly efficient, easy to navigate, very well appointed, thoroughly modern airport. I always consider myself very lucky to have this as my home airport.

I do use Philly frequently too, routing out to Italy via Philadelphia, but unfortunately I usually get routed home via JFK. In my experience Philadelphia has a pretty modern facility, is functional, and I’ve never had a problem.

Related Post: 10 Totally Awesome Airport Hacks

If you do have travel on the horizon, especially international travel, check out this article before you book your flights. With international travel you often have options on which airports you want to route through, and having a little knowledge ahead of booking your flights can be incredibly helpful, and save you a massive headache. If you do have to use one of the bad airports when flying internationally make sure you have travel insurance to cover you for lost luggage and missed international connections. I use Allianz insurance for all my international travel.

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The 10 Worst Airports In America

By Tim Winship for Smarter Travel

As any road warrior worth his or her rollaboard will tell you, the country’s airports are no friendlier than its skies. Ancient terminal buildings, threadbare carpets, stinky restrooms, poorly designed crowd control, sparse seating, unappetizing food concessions… the list of travelers’ gripes is a long one.

And that’s on top of last year’s results, which showed the average traveler-satisfaction score rising from 725 in 2015 (on a 1,000-point scale) to 731. Even that modest uptick was encouraging, given the 5 percent increase in airport traffic and the sky-high wait times at security checkpoints earlier that year.


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Related Post: 8 Random Things You Should Pack When You Travel

The study scored airports on a combination of six factors: terminal facilities, airport accessibility, security check, baggage claim, check-in/baggage check, and terminal shopping. Based on those criteria, the 10 highest-rated airports were as follows:

  1. Sacramento International Airport
  2. Indianapolis International Airport
  3. Anchorage International Airport
  4. Jacksonville International Airport
  5. Palm Beach International Airport
  6. John Wayne Airport
  7. Tampa International Airport
  8. Southwest Florida International Airport
  9. Raleigh-Durham International Airport
  10. Dallas Love Field

And the bottom 10 (worst first):

  1. LaGuardia Airport
  2. Newark Liberty International Airport
  3. Los Angeles International Airport
  4. Philadelphia International Airport
  5. Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
  6. Chicago O’Hare International Airport
  7. Honolulu International Airport
  8. JFK International Airport
  9. Boston Logan International Airport
  10. Lambert-St. Louis International Airport

It’s worth noting that the three lowest-ranked airports are currently undergoing massive construction projects, which can’t help but impede traffic and generally make navigating those airports a frustrating and time-consuming experience.

Of course, when the projects are completed, flying to or from those airports—and indeed most airports—will still be frustrating and time-consuming, just less so.

 

What are your best and worst airports? Tell me in the comment section below!


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