Palm Beach & JetBlue deals and steals


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With the leaves about to change, millions of Snowbirds are readying for their annual trek southward.  Most will drive, some will use the auto train or ship their vehicles and others will fly.

While the auto train does take some time and distance off the trip, you still must drive to Reston, VA and then overnight to Sanford, FL.  A similar option is to fly and have your car shipped.

Or you can drive or simply fly down.

Oh the headaches of making such decisions.

The one that makes the most sense for a great number of people is to ship the car, fly down and have it waiting for you on arrival.  Amortize the cost of a three-day drive, high cost of gas, meals and motels and the differences aren’t so great.  That doesn’t even factor in the wear and tear of a 1,200 to 1,500 mile drive.

The Palm Beach County Convention and Visitors Bureau has announced a partnership with JetBlue Airways to bring exclusive vacation offers within the Palm Beach area to the New York/New Jersey Metro area.

Some 14 hotels and resorts are participating in the Fall travel Escape program that runs through the end of this month.  Discounted travel will be valid through November 20.

The program will offer discounted airfares and 25 percent discounts to participating hotels and resorts.  Featured hotels include the PGA National resort & Spa, Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa and Boca Raton Resort as well as the Waldorf Astoria Collection.  There are more participating.  For information check out www.jetblue.com/vacations.

The JetBlue Getaways package options include bundling of flights and hotels with other amenities such as car rentals to offer discounted rates.

The Palm Beach area stretches along 47 miles of Florida’s southeast coast and has been a vacation hot spot for more than a century.  Its collection of white sand beaches, access to the mysterious Everglades, and variety of top-tier hotels and resorts have contributed to its popularity.

With such packages as the Jet Blue program, vacationers can price out their costs without worry about getting slammed by extras.  Vacationers can simply…vacation.

CLEAR  your way through TSA

One factor that discourages many people from flying is the airport hassle.  No matter what TSA says, the agents are frequently somewhat less than friendly and the security pat-down that approaches rape or a colonoscopy is off-putting.  But modern technology has come up with answers to make all of that more palatable.

Some airlines in cooperation with the TSA have established a program called “TSA Pre-Check” where, if you are a member of their frequent-flyer program, you can almost skate the lines.  You’ll have to apply through each airline you have an account with and they will note it on your ticket.

For international travelers there Is the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Global Entry program.  You’ll be required to come in for a personal interview and take an eye scan and fingerprint scan.  If approved, you can by-pass the long lines waiting for passport control simply by going to the Global Entry kiosk, scanning your passport and then your eyes and fingerprints.  This is only good for reentry to the U.S.

A relatively new program that is good for all travelers, especially frequent flyers, is the CLEAR Registered Traveler Program is perhaps the best of the lot.  The main drawback is that at present it is only available at a handful of domestic airports.  That is about to change as CLEAR is set to add several new airports and plans are in the works for some 30 added locations in the not too distant future.

CLEAR works much the same as the Global Entry program in that you must submit to a background check and provide eye scans and biometrics (Capt. Kirk, we have arrived) that will be encoded into a chip on your card.

Upon arriving at participating airports, CLEAR members can skirt the horribly long lines waiting to go through security.  There is a separate entrance that is clearly (no pun intended) marked for them.  They simply walk through and pass security while passengers on the regular line can wait for interminably long periods of time.

One of the participating airports, Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW) is notorious for lines that can cause atrial fib for passengers trying to get through.  The lines wrap around numerous times and the wait is unconscionable.  With CLEAR all the member has to do is walk to the CLEAR sign and save upwards of a half hour or more.

There is a fee for both Global Entry and CLEAR.  Global Entry is good for five years while CLEAR is valid for one year.  There is no fee for the individual airlines TSA-Pre-Check.  Remember, GLOBAL Entry is only valid for those returning from foreign destinations while CLEAR is valid for departing passengers.

For further information on CLEAR, check out http://flyclear.wikidot.com/how-does-it-work.

For Global Entry look at https://goes-app.cbp.dhs.gov/main/goes.

For TSA Pre-Check, contact your individual frequent flyer program.

Be aware, however, that for any of these programs, if you have any criminal record you may be declared ineligible.  The computers used to retrieve background information would make the CIA proud.

If you have a mark against you, be sure to declare it.  Honesty is the best policy here and you may be able to obtain a waiver.

As a special gift to our readers, we’ve arranged for a three-month free trial with CLEAR.  If you’d like to take advantage of this offer, go to CLEAR.com and enter CLEARmeT3 in the promo box.  Happy traveling.