$71 AA DFW to Chicago Roundtrip is Back!

These super cheap $70 DFW-ORD fares have been popping up lately and while availability is somewhat limited, you can find scatter dates every other week during April and May.

dfw-ord

Bookable on Google Flights or directly on AA.com

Happy New Year 2016!

Happy New Year my fellow travel addicts!

2015 was a great year of travel for me and I have so many great adventures to look back on! I got to try many new airline products and added several new destinations to my travel journal. New countries this year for me included Hong Kong, Macau, (if you want to be technical, special regions of China) Taiwan, Monaco, Japan, and Indonesia. Some of this journey was solo for work, some of it with friends and family.

Airline firsts for me in 2016 included Air France, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, and Virgin America. I racked up 134,825 miles in 2015!

jet it up 2015 blopez
I covered a lot of airspace in 2015!

I am still planning to be AAdvantage and OneWorld loyal in 2016. While we saw lots of disappointing changes to American’s AAdvantage program in the last few months, I’m still content with American especially with their continued fleet renewal and pure convenience being based in Dallas.

2016 is already looking exciting with a few new destinations already on the agenda with Maui, Hawaii; Park City, Utah; and Budapest, Hungary to start! I’m also looking forward to my first British Airways flight and my first time back in Utah in over 10 years! If 2016 is half as fun as 2015, I have a lot to look forward to. I hope you’ll continue to follow me on Avion Addiction in 2016. I look forward to sharing my story as well as the ways you too can travel well for less!

You can always keep up with on Twitter (@benjaminj84/@avionaddiction) as well as Instagram (@benjaminj84/@avionaddiction).

Need a Passport in Dallas? The Secret Spot with No Lines!

I posted this a couple years ago on my Yelp page but I thought it would be a good idea to share my secret on the Avion Addiction blog. Many of you are good to go with your well-worn passports but if you are a newbie out there and need to get a passport for the first time, the Dallas County Clerk’s office is the best place in the D/FW area to get your passport. They won’t be of assistance if you need your passport ASAP for an emergency but if you can wait a few weeks, this place works great!

I was is my mid-twenties before I got my first passport so I was a little behind the curve. But hey, when I was a kid, you didn’t need a passport for much of North America!

When I went to go apply for my first passport, I’d heard horror stories about getting passports processed at the post office and already feared the worst. I actually called multiple post offices several times to make an appointment yet nobody ever answered the phone. I called the Dallas County Clerk passport office and they answered immediately. They don’t take appointments so the service is first come, first served. I stopped by the day before at lunch time to peek in at the crowds and there were only a couple people in line. I decided to come in the next morning right at opening. We got there early, before they opened, expecting a line to start forming. There ended up being only one other person there who arrived shortly after us. They opened the doors promptly at 8:30 am and were very courteous. I’ve read in the Dallas Observer that they only employ senior employees at this office so they know their stuff well. They explained all the regulations clearly and processed my application promptly. Everything went as smoothly as possible!

Just a few pointers before you go:

-The passport office is located inside the Earl Cabell Federal Building on the first floor. Parking is very expensive in the garage so try to park at a meter on the street.

-They only accept CASH for the $25.00 execution fee and only accept CHECKS for the passport fees that are paid to the U.S. Dept of State. Bring both to be sure.

-Arrive early to avoid the crowds. Crowds build up as the day progresses. They do not make appointments at this location.

-This is NOT the U.S. Passport Agency, they are located down the street at 1100 Commerce St. That is the location for passports needed immediately.

I had my passport issued in exactly 2 weeks. I couldn’t have imagined such a smooth process!

Quick Tips and Thoughts on DART Orange Line to D/FW Airport

With the nation’s longest light rail network and a new Orange Line extension, D/FW travelers have a new great option for getting to and from D/FW Airport. With a location far outside the city center, D/FW has long has the disadvantage of being less convenient than Love Field for central city dwellers and visitors in Dallas. While the Orange Line extensions hasn’t physically relocated D/FW closer to Downtown Dallas, new rail access directly to Terminal A has sure made it a lot easier. Love Field also has a rail station along the Orange and Green Line but unfortunately, the line was routed around the airport to save money and there is no direct terminal access. Rail riders must take the 524 DART bus from Love Field Station to the terminal and the bus frequency is about on average about every 15 minutes.

I’ve had a chance to ride the Orange Line to D/FW a few times now and it’s a breeze, even if you’re not used to riding the rail. Here are a couple of observations I’ve made and a few tips to make your trip to D/FW a tad bit stressful.

Check the route of your train depending on the time and day of the week. The Orange Line runs during peak hours from D/FW Airport to Downtown and then follows the same path as the Red Line all the way to Parker Road station. During non-peak hours, the trains terminate at LBJ/Central station.

Give yourself an extra 30 minutes to an hour for travel. The journey from Downtown Dallas to D/FW airport is about 50 minutes. I usually try and target a train that puts me at D/FW Airport station a minimum of 1.5 hours before my departure time. That way, if I miss a bus or train connection or the Skylink is delayed, I have some cushion time.

D/FW Station is directly adjacent to Terminal A. Take the Skylink post-security to reach your terminal/gate. Sometimes I luck out and my flight (American) departs from Terminal A and I’m already where I need to be. But even if you aren’t flying American, you can still clear TSA in Terminal A and then take the Skylink to the other terminals. It’s much quicker than the inter-terminal bus which is delayed much more frequently the Skylink and you still have to clear TSA when you reach your terminal.

For TSA PreCheck flyers, keep in mind that there is rarely a dedicated PreCheck line in Terminal A. There is still TSA PreCheck option, but unfortunately, there is almost never a dedicated line, even during peak hours. They will hand you a PreCheck card so you can keep your shoes on and your bag intact. Terminal C has more a efficient PreCheck system with a dedicated entry.

I’m thrilled to have a new transit option at D/FW. I think it’s incredibly convenient to air travelers but also a boost for the D/FW economy. Express service from Downtown Dallas to the airport isn’t available yet but there are rumors that it’s a possibility in the near future.

Global Entry Approved….Finally!

I’d been contemplating registering for Global Entry on and off for a few months and finally decided it was worth the $100 bite for five years or enrollment. I travel internationally somewhat regularly but the added bonus of TSA Precheck was the perk that won me over. There’s a lot of info out there with folks sharing their various experiences with the Global Entry application process. But the average American probably doesn’t know what Global Entry is or how to sign up. Most frequent travelers love this since they despise the thought of too many folks getting in the TSA PreCheck lines. But who can blame them as the whole point of TSA PreCheck is to save time and longer lines will only defeat that.

Fortunately for myself, I’m not based out of LGA or another overcrowded airport with a half million other frequent travelers enrolled in a Trusted Traveler program. The security lines at my main airport, Dallas-Fort Worth, has very short security lines most of the time. I also use Dallas Love Field frequently which can have some heavy peak TSA lines but still nothing like LAX or LGA.

The process of applying for Global Entry does require a bit of patience. I’ve heard varying timelines of both the application and scheduling of the interview. Depending on where you live and how many Global Entry centers are nearby plays into how quickly you can get your interview. If you are applying for Global Entry, you will begin by registering in the Homeland Security GOES web portal and submitting an application for Global Entry. You can also apply for TSA PreCheck and Nexus through GOES. However, you must be near the Canadian border for your Nexus interview as Nexus centers are only in Canada and the Northern border states. If you do live near a Nexus center, it is a better value than Global Value at only $50 vs. $100 for five years.

Once you’ve submitted your application through the GOES system, the application will head off to Homeland Security for review. I’ve heard applications take as long as a couple weeks to as short as a couple days. Mine was the latter at just about 2 days to receive preliminary approval. As long as you don’t have a history of breaking the law or violating customs rules, I wouldn’t sweat being approved. The GOES system will notify you by email when there are changes to your application status. Once you receive you pre-approval electronically through the GOES system, you have 30 days to schedule your interview at a Global Entry center. DFW Airport is the only Global Entry center in the Dallas area. DFW currently has a very full schedule through the summer. I checked other airports around the country and airports like SFO, JFK, and DEN had availability for interviews much sooner. I got pre-approval in early April and the next available slot was at the end of June. After that, the next slot wasn’t until August. Not too efficient, eh?

All the travel blogs will tell you to check daily for cancellations and earlier slots to open up. I recommend this as well but it took a long time for an earlier slot to open up. A couple weeks ago, a slot opened up on June 7th. Of course, I took it. For all the waiting weeks or months for your interview, the actual interview only took me about 10 minutes of waiting in the lobby and 3 minutes for the interview. They take a quick picture and take your fingerprints. Other than long wait to schedule an interview, it’s very painless.

You’ll receive your Trusted Traveler ID number on your pre-approval letter but it won’t be any good until after your interview. Homeland Security tells you it takes 48 hours to receive the final approval email but I got mine about 2 hours later. Of course, as soon as I got home I entered my Trusted Traveler ID into all of my existing reservations and my frequent flyer profiles. I should receive my Global Entry card in about 2 weeks. I hope my picture looks nice!

Here’s to looking forward to lots of TSA PreCheck selection and painless, short U.S. re-entry!

Share your own experience with Global Entry in the comments below.

 

 

DFW to London and Dublin in Premium Economy over Thanksgiving – British Airways – #FlightDeal – Open Jaw – Nov 2014 – $1403 R/T

A great fare to travel to the UK and Ireland in the comfort of British Airway’s Premium Economy. Limited availability in latter half of November. Cheap flights between London and Dublin can certainly be had for as low as £73.

If you are banking your miles to Alaska’s Mileage Plan like me, this is a tempting deal!

Sample Departure Date: Mon, Nov 24, 2014

Sample Return Date: Tue, Dec 2, 2014

Airline: British Airways

CPM:  13.0 CPM (Yes, high but for Premium Economy over the holidays, a great value!)

Total Base Mileage Earned: 9,752 +10% Class Bonus for a total of  10,727

Routing: DFW-LHR, DUB-LHR-DFW

Total Roundtrip Fare: $1,403

dfw-dub-lhr-premecon-nov24

 

Need a hotel in London or Dublin?

Save an extra 20% on hotels with code: SUMMER20 – Offer valid 5/27 – 6/1/14.

The Love Field Fare Wars Begin……

With yesterday’s announcement from Southwest Airlines for new service from Dallas Love Field once the Wright Amendment is full repealed,  I figured it was only a matter of time before other airlines starting match Southwest’s $99 each way fares.  Virgin America introduced $79 one way fares out of Love Field to LGA,SFO, DCA, and LAX a few weeks ago when they announced service from Love Field.

I’ve been expecting American Airlines, if not others to start matching Southwest’s $99 Fares to destinations like LAX,LGA,DCA, and SFO from Dallas area airports. Well sure enough, I checked out the ITA Matrix this morning and American has starting matching fares ($198 R/T) to LAX. Of course, these are departing out of DFW instead of DAL as American does not serve Love Field.

I’m sure these won’t last long so if you’re planning a October or November visit to Southern California, book now. However, I do think this signals a long term decrease in fares from Dallas with the exit of the Wright Amendment restrictions and compounded by the entry of Virgin America into Love Field.

 

dal-lax oct 2014