Stories by JL Johnson

SENIOR CORRESPONDENT - LEE'S SUMMIT, MO. JL joined AirlineReporter in 2012 and has since become one of our most tenured and prolific writers. His passions include catalyzing AvGeek passion in others, spending too much time on Twitter, and frequent travel. While he's always looking for the next big adventure, home is with his growing AvGeek family in Lee’s Summit, MO, a suburb of Kansas City. Email: [email protected]

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Global Entry kiosks seen at HOU's international terminal unveiling in 2014. Photo- JL Johnson

The State of New York has recently reminded all of us that it is time to either get or renew your Global Entry… and a bit at their expense. No, this isn’t a call to be opportunistic. Well, maybe a little. Hear me out…

Recently, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that New York residents are being cut off from Global Entry (both applications and renewals). “New York residents will no longer be eligible to apply for or renew membership in CBP Trusted Traveler Programs and CBP will cancel all pending Trusted Traveler Program applications submitted by residents of New York,”according to a February 6th CBP press release. “New York residents who are currently enrolled in Trusted Travel Programs will retain their benefits until their memberships expire.”

The CBP will not comment on the volume of enrollments by state, but it is safe to assume that the most populated city in the U.S., which also happens to be the world’s financial center, makes up a sizable chunk. With New York enrollment activity being placed on pause, due to political nonsense, now is the time to take advantage of short lines. Yes, this is an advantage to the rest of us. But by shifting our applications forward, we can clear the way for when New York is again approved. Short lines for us now, and a slightly better experience for our New York friends, when their pent-up demand rolls in. Win-win for everyone! Sort of… given the situation anyhow.

An American A-320 Departs LAS with Southwest in the background. - Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

Regular AirlineReporter readers likely know by now that I am a Southwest Airlines loyalist. No, not every flight I take is with Southwest, but indeed, most are. There are many reasons for my loyalty which I think I have done well to document over the years. But with each piece discussing my loyalty to the LUV airline, I get comments, tweets, and emails urging me to take my loyalty elsewhere. The perennial argument typically focuses on a chance at upgrades, and, in general, feeling “rewarded.”

Any given year I typically fly just enough between my day job, leisure, and AirlineReporter gigs to renew Southwest A-List. Like so many of my frequently flying cohorts, by the time Q4 hits I’m often in panic mode, forecasting upcoming travel and ensuring I’m on track for status renewal. Because of this there typically isn’t much wiggle room for me to experiment with other carriers.

This year has unfolded differently. By September I was well ahead of schedule for renewal, with multiple upcoming trips sure to push me over the mark. Sadly A-List Preferred was not in reach. For the first time in years, I didn’t have to worry about renewal and had the opportunity to start revisiting some of the other carriers with more regularity. But was there any incentive to? And who might I focus on? My backup airline is typically Delta, my favorite of the legacies. I fly them a few times per year already so I likely wouldn’t learn anything new. What about United? As a Lifetime Titanium perk, Marriott Bonvoy granted me complimentary United Silver status. But United is my least favorite airline…

Pick a seat, any seat. Don't like it? Pick another. - Photo: Southwest Airlines

Last month Southwest Airlines announced three updates to their Rapid Rewards frequent flyer program. Typically when travel and hospitality rewards programs are updated, it results in a net-negative for consumers. These changes, however, are more of a mixed bag. The updates have also resulted in some confusion. Following the announcement, I received a handful of notes from folks asking for further explanation. It seems that when it comes to Southwest, I’m The Points G… Um, I guess we’ll go with Guru? [Editor: We also considered Gangsta, Gentlemen, Gladiator, Gossiper, Goat, Grumbler, Grizzly, and our favorite Geezer]

Let’s explore the changes together…