News And Notes For Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Southwest has released the 50,000 miles sign-up bonus for their credit card again.  The offer may be somewhat targeted, but a fair amount of people are reporting success getting the offer.  You can find more info here.  If you don’t get the link that way, some of the travel bloggers like Million Mile Secrets still have 50K offer links on their sites.

Notes For

Loyalty Lobby has picked up a slightly unpleasant change in the Starwood Preferred Guest program.  One of the hallmarks of the SPG program is the ability to transfer points to a healthy list of airlines at favorable conversion rates, almost all at a 1:1 basis.  The conversion rate from SPG to LAN airlines was 1:2.  These have been that way for as long as I can remember.  No idea if there are more changes coming, but any sort of significant changes here would be a major blow to the outsize value of the SPG program.

At the bleary-eyed hour of about 4:30 this morning, I observed the recent changes to the TSA Pre-Check and Clear lanes at Denver International Airport (DEN).  I had gotten an e-mail about it from Clear previously but hadn’t thought much about it.  Overall, I’m very pleased with the changes and hope it’s a model for other airports.  Clear and TSA Pre-Check were already well integrated at DEN.  They’ve now moved both lanes to the West side of the South checkpoint.  Since I was too tired to think about taking pictures this morning, you’ll have to bear with my explanation and I’ll update with pics in a couple of weeks.

The Clear/Pre-Check lanes are at the checkpoint nearest the United airlines ticket counters.  This makes sense based on United’s large presence at DEN.  They now have two bag scanner lines and one x-ray line so plenty of capacity.  And, Clear still gets you to the front of the Pre-Check line.  That didn’t used to be significant, but I was traveling next to fellow travel blogger Friendly Skies on Monday and he told me about a 20-minute wait at IAD Pre-Check.

More and more folks are signing up for Pre-Check so it makes sense the lines are getting longer.  TSA doesn’t have a great track record on logistics, so it stands to reason there will be times where there isn’t enough capacity to meet demand in Pre-Check.  Clear needs to figure out a way to expand quicker to more real airports so they can stay relevant or die another miserable, quiet death.

Good news for Delta elites looking to take advantage of the new partnership with Virgin Atlantic.  Wandering Aramean has the full scoop on what’s coming up next week.  It generally looks like good news for Delta fliers who have occasional business with Virgin Atlantic (and vice versa) no nothing earth shattering.

And, I’m on my way home to load up on steak, ribs, chicken and corn with the goal of using the barbecue as much as possible between now and the Fourth of July, sitting comfortably in an American Airlines first class seat.

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  1. The Precheck lane was totally empty at Honolulu airport when I went through the other day. It took me 20 seconds from “show boarding pass” to “pick up bag and head to the gate”. I hope the process develops well throughout the country.

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