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Bits & Pieces: Southwest & travel visa to Europe

You may have seen the news…

sw hi

Tickets are now on sale, at great introductory prices!  Flights start this coming weekend.

  • Flights between both Oakland and San Jose, Calif., and the Islands, now available for purchase through March 5 for as low as $49 one-way.
  • Interisland service to begin April 28 between Honolulu and Kahului (Maui), and May 12 between Honolulu and Kona, now available for purchase through March 5 for as low as $29 one-way.
  • Visit Southwest.com/Hawaii to learn more about Southwest’s offerings for the Aloha State.

Unfortunately, that is too late for me to take advantage of for my next trip (I’m leaving tonight).  But you can still try and book.  Keep in mind that Southwest has a general rule that they will not operate red-eye flights.  So the Hawaii schedule is a little weird when you are looking at the return to the islands in a round-trip itinerary.  Play around on the site a bit.  I’m considering telling my parents to fly Southwest on an interisland trip when they visit us in May- strictly for research purposes, you understand 🙂

The other travel news that affects US citizens flying abroad is:

Starting in 2021, Americans and travelers from other visa-free countries will have to take an extra step when visiting more than two dozen countries in Europe.

I’ve read many articles claiming that the extra step is obtaining a visa, which it is not.  A travel visa usually means you as a traveler are essentially notifying a country when you want to visit, and are given (or pay for, depending on the country) a temporary pass for that specific country, biometric information might be taken, you might need to visit a consulate, etc.  This is not that.  It’s essentially a documentation step, and is not tied to any specific travel plans.  It’s worth noting that UK residents have been using this system to visit the United States for years.

The European Commission explained it thusly:

The ETIAS authorisation is not a visa. Nationals of visa liberalisation countries will continue to travel the EU without a visa but will simply be required to obtain a travel authorisation via ETIAS prior to their travel. ETIAS will be a simple, fast and visitor-friendly system, which will, in more than 95% of cases, result in a positive answer within a few minutes.

The current cost estimate is about $7-8 per traveler.  The authorization is good for 3 years and allows an unlimited number of entries during that time.  Americans would still be able to move around in the Schengen Area for up to 90 days at a time.  People are getting a little upset about this but I see no big deal.  Just another thing for the to-do list for our next European adventure!

Well, as I mentioned above, I’m leaving to the mainland tonight.  Worry not, I will be working on the Disneyland Paris trip report post while I’m gone 🙂

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Global Entry for families- a Trusted Traveler Program

I wrote about the different Trusted Traveler Programs offered by the US Department of Homeland Security before, when discussing my Adventures in Passport Control.  A small correction to the end of that blog post: Global Entry (GE) privileges no longer extend to children traveling with the GE parent- everyone needs their own.  GE Membership still includes TSA PreCheck, which is helpful for the airport security line.  So you have an advantage at takeoff with a smoother security process, and at landing with a smoother Passport Control process.  Nice!

I felt it would be helpful for me especially, given my previous encounters at Customs & Border Protection (CBP), to have had a thorough background check and obtain a “Known Traveler Number,” another term for the GE PASSID #.  For us, that meant that we would need to spend $400 for the privilege of faster passage through immigration/passport control, since we would all need to apply and be approved for the Program individually.  Or did we???

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Leggings, Linking, London, and Lauderdale

Pre-trip prep time!  It’s down to the details now that all the big stuff has been settled.

—First thing I’ve been thinking about lately is WARM clothing.  We’re typically wimpy re: winter weather after living in Hawaii for so long.  I started an inventory of cold-weather gear and quickly realized…

im-gonna-need-cold-weather-meme

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Yay! The Paris-Seville ticket saga is OVER!

This particular ticket purchase was a true roller coaster of emotions: from the high of getting a budget-appropriate late afternoon flight booked with Transavia in May, to the low of “unbooking” after they changed our departure time to 7am (ugh), to the 4 months of uncertainty since then as I tracked prices and they kept going up, and up, and up.  Well, I finally slayed this particular travel dragon thanks to a small amount of date flexibility, a museum request visit from my husband, and a shiny new credit card sign-up bonus. Read the rest of this entry »

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Disneyland Paris Planning

So, I mentioned that we would only spend 1 day at the Disneyland Paris Resort on our upcoming European tour.  You all know how much I love Disney, but Paris has so much to offer that 1 theme park day was all I was willing to spare.  It follows then, that I had to plan an epic day, trying to hit all the Paris-exclusive rides and experiences available.  Yes, we are planning to open and close the Parks.  Here’s how I hope it will go… Read the rest of this entry »

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I feel like a real EuroSTAR

I took the Eurostar train from London to Paris once before, and I remember it was pretty cool.  I was all, European Rail Travel! Crumpets to Croissants! The Chunnel! For this trip, once our departure to Europe changed from the NYC area to North Carolina, and the opportunity to fly into London was in play, I realized that my next Eurostar opportunity had arrived!  I immediately started researching, and saw the magic words any uber-planner loves…“prices are cheaper the earlier you book”Read the rest of this entry »

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An Adventure in American AAdvantage and Avios

…ay ay ay 🙂  My mission: get the 4 of us from Seville (SVQ) to Barcelona (BCN) using less than $420, preferably on nonstop flights, preferably later in the day. Seemed easy at first: Iberia MUST have a nonstop flight between these popular Spanish destinations, right? And I could totally use my Avios on Iberia flights, so that would be a cinch, right? You would think so…

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Paris to Seville UNbooked! And Newark-Honolulu finally booked!

Why would I UNbook something when the cancellation/change fees are crazytown?  Trust me, all will be explained.  I had all my price alerts set and had been manually checking prices as well…and it paid off!  I used my trusty Alaska Companion Fare to make some travel magic…and I was able to stay (sort of) on budget.  Here’s how I did it… Read the rest of this entry »

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Bits & Pieces: Southwest Hawaii news, IHG and SPG card changes

Holy cannoli, things have been crazy lately.  My trip planning took a bit of a back seat, though I did manage to book some tickets from Paris to Seville on Transavia, which is a European low-cost carrier affiliated with Air France/KLM.  More on that in another post- especially as they’ve already made an unfavorable schedule change…I refused the change via email and they said they’ll be contacting me (during THEIR business hours, in the Netherlands) to discuss the alternatives.  Anyway…on to the good stuff! Read the rest of this entry »

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Confession: I just bought 4 tickets…with cash

I KNOW!  It’s so rare for me to pay for anything but taxes when using miles/points, or pay for 1 or 2 fares and use miles/points/companion fare for the rest.  But this time it made a lot of sense.  I still have some tickets to buy for the European trip, but I’ll discuss some nice updates from Chase Ultimate Rewards that may just help me out with those. Read the rest of this entry »

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