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Key travel tips you need to know — whether you’re a first-time or frequent traveler

Clint Henderson

The holiday travel season is fully upon us. The Transportation Security Administration expects to screen a record number of passengers this Christmas, and the TSA already broke a daily record. They screened a whopping 2.9 million travelers on Nov. 26, 2023, alone ... the most passengers ever screened in a single day.

As millions of travelers take trips by plane , cruise ship or road , we've gathered some essential travel tips on how best to book and enjoy your journeys.

Whether you're an occasional road-tripper or a frequent globe-trotter, these TPG-backed top travel tips can help you avoid unnecessary headaches when you spend time away from home.

How to find travel deals

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Flexibility is key when it comes to finding cheap airfare any time of year.

Changing your arrival or departure date by a single day can save you hundreds of dollars on airfare. If you don't mind altering your family's plans slightly, consider booking travel directly on major holidays like the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas for cheaper prices and thinner airport crowds.

One of our favorite tools at TPG for finding deals is Google Flights . You can use the search field to find the cheapest (or best) flights. Google will also give you a historical view of how prices have ranged and will even send you email alerts if fares jump or drop on specific routes you've selected.

It also has some fun tools you can use to find a cheap destination. By clicking the "Explore" button on the sidebar and putting your departure airport, Google will give you a map or list view of the most wallet-friendly destinations.

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However, Google isn't the only place to find deals: TPG publishes regular deal alerts. You can sign up for Twitter alerts and subscribe to our daily newsletter for the latest deals news.

Don't sleep on mileage awards, either. If you've been hoarding miles during the pandemic, it's time to spend them. Cash prices are high, so it can be a good time to burn those miles.

No matter how much you think you know about redeeming miles for flights , there are always new tips and tricks for turning those earnings into dream trips. Turn to TPG for guidance on sweet spots for redemptions. Sites like ExpertFlyer (part of Red Ventures, like TPG) supply additional redemption ideas or even business class upgrade inventory.

You may even want to consult a travel agent to get access to special deals that aren't available anywhere else. Travel agents can sometimes get you extra perks at hotels or even cheaper business-class airfare to your dream destination.

Be your own best advocate

Since there are still air traffic controller shortages and little room for error in the system these days, travelers have to be their own best advocates.

There are ways to get ahead of any possible travel nightmares.

First, be smart when booking. Try to find a nonstop flight rather than one with connections, even if it costs a little more. You'll eliminate the risk of missing connections and lessen the chance of having your luggage go in a different direction than you during a transfer.

You could also take one of the first flights of the day, as those are least likely to face afternoon thunderstorms and most likely to depart on time. Read our article 5 reasons to book the first flight of the day for all the data.

Related: Your flight is canceled or delayed – here's what you should do next

Download your airline's mobile app to keep track of potential flight delays in real time. The airline app is a secret weapon in case things go wrong. Not only will you know when boarding starts, but you'll also learn of any delays first. Some airlines allow you to even rebook yourself in the app.

If your flight is canceled, you'll want to beat everyone else on your flight who is also looking to get rebooked.

We recommend heading for the customer service desk (or lounge desk if you have access). You could also get on the phone with the airline or contact them via social media if there's a delay . Sometimes, an airline's Twitter representative will help you faster than a phone or in-person agent can. You have to use every tool at your disposal when things go south.

Many airlines also now have live chat capabilities to help navigate delays and cancellations.

I always have an alternate plan (or two) in the back of my mind in case a flight gets canceled or delayed. I also look to see what other airlines are flying the route I'm booked in case something goes awry. This way, I'll know what to ask for if I need to be rebooked.

Also, save all the receipts for the expenses you incur during delays or cancellations. You'll want excellent documentation in the case of meltdowns like the one Southwest passengers experienced during the holidays .

If you're stuck at an airport for an extended period, seek out your airport's secret quiet spaces for a brief escape from the travel chaos.

Get Global Entry and/or TSA PreCheck

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One of our favorite ways to speed through the airport and avoid those summertime mega lines is via Trusted Traveler programs like TSA PreCheck and Global Entry .

Essentially, the government pre-screens you for security and thus you save a bit of time during your travels. You'll need to apply ahead of time and pay a fee. The great news, however, is that many credit cards will give you a statement credit for these fees. TSA PreCheck is a $78 application fee for five years, and Global Entry is $100.

Related: 7 ways to get Global Entry, TSA PreCheck and/or Clear for free

TSA PreCheck allows you to speed through airport security without removing your shoes, laptops or liquids. With Global Entry , you can breeze through customs when you return from an international trip.

If you have the time, going for Global Entry rather than simply TSA PreCheck makes sense. Global Entry requires an interview with Customs and Border Patrol ahead of time, but once you're approved, TSA PreCheck will be included.

Get Clear for the ultimate security trifecta

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The other security tool we recommend you have in your travel toolbelt is Clear .

Related: Why you should get TSA PreCheck and Clear

The expedited security program allows you to bypass long security lines by using a separate lane at many airports. You'll approach a kiosk where your identity is confirmed via an iris scan or fingerprint. A Clear employee will then escort you to the front of the security screening line.

A Clear membership combined with TSA PreCheck will enable you to go to even shorter lines at some airports with designated Clear/PreCheck lines. Clear isn't perfect at all airports where it's so popular, and there are now long lines (cough, Atlanta). However, it will still generally lead to shorter lines overall.

Related: Guide to using the Amex Platinum Clear benefit

Make copies of your important documents

Make digital and hard copies of all your important travel-related documents. Start by photographing your driver's license, your state ID and/or your passport.

You should have copies of your IDs in your phone's library in case you get separated from the actual document. Sometimes, it also helps in a pinch if you are asked for ID, and you didn't bring the hard copy. For example, I was recently asked for my ID to enter One Vanderbilt to have dinner at the new American Express Centurion Lounge in New York. The receptionist would have accepted a photograph of the ID if I didn't have the physical document.

TPG also recommends having an actual photocopy in a separate place. Editor Kristy Tolley says she stores a hard copy in a separate place from where she keeps her passport in case she loses a bag. "I also leave a copy of it at home if I'm traveling alone," she said.

Check expiration dates

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If you aren't 100% certain of the expiration date of your passport and other travel documents, go check them now. Renewing passports takes time, and some countries require six months of future passport validity to allow entry. Remember that child passports expire every five years, which can sneak up on you.

Related: How and when to renew your passport

Double-checking the expiration dates for your driver's licenses and state IDs is also a good idea. Remember that TSA checks the expiration dates on your documents when they screen you for security. Don't forget to check the expiration dates for your Trusted Traveler programs like Global Entry, Clear and TSA PreCheck, too. It can take a while to get a Global Entry interview appointment if you need one to renew.

Few things are worse than getting to the front of the security line and realizing the PreCheck mark is gone from your boarding pass.

Finally, check the entry requirements if you are traveling internationally. Some countries require visas that you must acquire before arrival.

Consider travel protection

When booking your travel, try to use a credit card that offers some built-in travel protection . Many credit cards, including TPG favorites like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or The Platinum Card® from American Express , offer this when you use those cards to purchase your airfare and similar.

Related: Best credit cards for trip delays and cancellations

If the coverage offered by your credit card isn't enough, you might also want to purchase travel insurance . These policies can sometimes go beyond trip cancellations to cover things like medical evacuations. Warning: Read the fine print on any extra policies very carefully to ensure it covers the situations that matter the most to you.

Those who frequently travel abroad may want to consider purchasing an annual travel insurance policy instead of buying one on a trip-by-trip basis. Some TPG staffers purchase annual policies because of the cost savings for multiple trips. Some will find having an annual policy is easier than juggling separate policies or various credit card coverage terms and conditions.

Tips for your luggage

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TPG has a ton of tips when it comes to luggage.

First and foremost, try to be on "team carry-on" whenever possible. If you don't check baggage, you are much less likely to become separated from it. Many of us at TPG refuse to check luggage except under extreme circumstances.

Of course, other folks with families or those embarking on long journeys may still want to check bags. If that's the case for you, you can still do many things to lessen the chance you get separated from your stuff. For example, make sure your luggage is in good working order, your contact info is attached, the bag is within the weight limits, you get to the airport early (but not too early) to check it and confirm your luggage is tagged to the right destination or connection.

Related: 7 tips to keep the airline from losing your luggage

After last year's baggage delays and luggage disasters , we strongly suggest you put Apple AirTags (or the Android equivalent ) into your luggage so you can track your items if they go missing .

If you check a bag, keep extra medicine or medical supplies in your carry-on bag in case your luggage goes missing or gets delayed. "As a diabetic, I keep a tiny emergency kit in my backpack with enough supplies to keep me going in an emergency," TPG writer Tanner Saunders said.

Former TPG credit card writer Ryan Smith also offered words of advice regarding luggage. "The last items you pack in your carry-on will be most accessible, so use this for your passport, ID, ticket, headphones or whatever else you need during the trip," he said. By making sure those items you'll use most are easiest to reach, you'll save yourself the hassle of having to dig around (or partially unpack) your bag to grab what you need.

Finally, be sure and get compensated if your bags are late or lost. Many airlines will give you points or even cash for delayed bags, and the government has rules on compensation if your bags are lost.

Staying safe on your journeys

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From potentially getting robbed while on the road to experiencing bad weather or natural disasters while traveling, there are many scenarios that could arise when you're away from home.

To mitigate those risks, pay attention to U.S. Department of State warnings about a destination you plan to visit and check local sources for the latest news from that country or region for additional context. Although the State Department tends to err on the side of caution with its warnings, it's still best to be aware of what you may face during your trip.

Also, know the local number in case of emergencies. In many places, including Mexico and much of Europe, if you dial 9-1-1 on your cellphone, you will be connected to emergency services just like in the U.S. However, you should know the local emergency numbers of whichever country you visit.

Let people at home know your itinerary and stay in touch with them throughout your trip. If something goes amiss, at least someone will know where you're supposed to be or the last place you visited.

If you're arriving at night, contact your hotel or home-share host to ask about the best way to get there at the time you're arriving and the safest ways to travel at night in that area.

Also, be strategic about how you check into a hotel. Some solo travelers request two keycards to imply someone else is on the trip. Giving thought to the hotel room's security swing bar can also make sense, with some taking steps like placing a hand towel over it to make it harder to dislodge from the outside.

Some final tips

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  • For cruisers, TPG principal cruise writer Gene Sloan suggests arriving in port at least a day in advance (if not several days ahead of time). This will eliminate the risk of missing your ship's departure time and help you get acclimated to the local time zone.
  • When taking road trips to out-of-the-way destinations, go old school and bring paper maps with you or download offline maps from Google. Using a paper map or an offline version means you always have a way to navigate around your chosen destination, even if you lose cellular service.
  • One other note, you should reserve airport parking ahead of time during peak travel times. Some airport parking areas fill up fast around holidays, so reserving your spot ahead of time will save you from wasting time looking for a space when you need to catch a flight. You can also sometimes save by booking online in advance, too.

Bottom line

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Whether you're fresh to the world of traveling or a seasoned expert, you can always learn new tips to maximize your time away from home. The more research and preparation you do before your trip, the better your experience will be — especially if things go wrong, as they sometimes do.

Some of our favorite tools are deal alerts, Google Flights , sign-up bonuses and credit card rewards . Learn those tools and use them for better travel every time.

Remember that these days when things go wrong, you have to be your own best advocate. For more travel tips and tricks, read the stories below.

Related reading:

  • Your flight is delayed or canceled: Here's what to do next
  • The best travel credit cards
  • The 18 best places to travel in 2023
  • 6 real-life strategies you can use when your flight is canceled or delayed
  • 8 of the best credit cards for general travel purchases
  • Here's how to get through airport security faster

7 Personal Benefits of Travel

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Forget milling around in your finest evening wear, Singapore Sling in hand: You'll be lucky to get peanuts. Flying isn't quite the party it was in Sinatra's days, and lots of time, energy, and money are expended to leave home, so why travel? How long do the  personal benefits of travel last?

Getting away from home and stepping outside of your usual routine is beneficial for both mind and body. The long-lasting personal benefits of visiting a foreign country far outweigh the costs and time to get there.

The great travel writer Pico Lyer said: "Travel is not really about leaving our homes, but leaving our habits." Here are seven ways that travel, especially  international travel, will enhance your life.

Travel Sharpens the Mind

You've done your old routine for so many years that you could run through it on autopilot. Being dropped into a new environment engages a dormant part of your mind and gets those synapses firing again.

Suddenly, you'll be required to navigate unfamiliar places, read foreign languages , try new things, make quick decisions, and choose your new eating and sleeping schedule.

Unlike at home, all the new sights, sounds, and places will require mental processing and filing. Your brain will welcome the workout! Once you return home, you'll be sharper than ever for better organizing and sprucing up your daily routine.

A Shift in Perspective

"Nobody comes back from a journey the way they started it." — Unknown

Being exposed to new cultures and people will greatly shift your paradigm and create a healthier perspective once you return back home. Seeing different social classes creates compassion and really makes you feel more blessed and content. Large portions of the world's population have to deal with daily threats such as hunger, disease , and landmines .

A hard day at work suddenly doesn't seem so bad when you see people in developing countries toiling in sun-scorched fields from morning to dark, or begging for a drink of water.

A Chance to Try New Things

"Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." — Ralph Waldo Emerson

While you may branch out at home from time to time by trying new restaurants or splurging on expenditures, traveling kicks you out of the comfort zone and forces you, for better or worse, to try new things!

Even if you don't enjoy your first attempt at scuba diving , at least you'll be able to relate in a new way the next time you see it in a movie or hear someone talking about it.

Becoming a well-rounded individual enhances self-confidence and will help you find new material for conversation in social settings with a wider variety of people.

Who knows, you may accidentally discover your new favorite food or find out that you want to pursue a new career in karaoke!

Meet New People

"A journey is best measured in friends, not in miles." — Tim Cahill

You'll meet far more friendly people on the road than you will under ordinary circumstances at home.

Other travelers are always looking to share experiences, give tips on places to go, and meet people from all over. Striking up a conversation with other travelers is extraordinarily easy.

A polite "so where are you from?" breaks the ice quite easily and may lead to lasting friendships with people from all over the world.

See the Real Deal

"To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries." — Aldous Huxley

Until you visit a place and form your own opinions, your understanding only comes from what you were taught in school, read in books, or saw on media, which may or may not be a complete truth.

Don't over-research your upcoming destination in guidebooks. Do your best to avoid building a bias toward a place or installing mental filters before you visit. Wait to form your own opinion, remaining objective until you can make up your own mind.

Exercise and Sunshine

Sure, you could just go sweat in the gym under fluorescent lighting, but chances are that you'll be much more active from day to day while on the road, regardless of whether your trip is an adventurous one or simply a relaxing beach trip .

You could be exploring new cities on foot, hiking , swimming, walking between places, and hopefully soaking up some needed sunshine while doing so. And it's guaranteed to smell better than the gym.

Come Home Renewed

After stepping away from home for a while, you'll return with renewed energy, a new set of mental filters, and ready to take on the next big project or challenge. Call it a life reboot.

Getting away for some time, even though it requires effort, will greatly enhance your attitude and productivity once you return home. Sure, you may have some mail piled up and matters to attend, but those are simple challenges easily knocked out.

Breaking up the monotony for a while is a great way to reduce stress and give your life an injection of excitement. Don't be surprised if shortly after your return, you're already counting down days until the next trip!

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  • COVID-19 travel advice

Considering travel during the pandemic? Take precautions to protect yourself from COVID-19.

A coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine can prevent you from getting COVID-19 or from becoming seriously ill due to COVID-19 . But even if you're vaccinated, it's still a good idea to take precautions to protect yourself and others while traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you've had all recommended COVID-19 vaccine doses, including boosters, you're less likely to become seriously ill or spread COVID-19 . You can then travel more safely within the U.S. and internationally. But international travel can still increase your risk of getting new COVID-19 variants.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you should avoid travel until you've had all recommended COVID-19 vaccine and booster doses.

Before you travel

As you think about making travel plans, consider these questions:

  • Have you been vaccinated against COVID-19 ? If you haven't, get vaccinated. If the vaccine requires two doses, wait two weeks after getting your second vaccine dose to travel. If the vaccine requires one dose, wait two weeks after getting the vaccine to travel. It takes time for your body to build protection after any vaccination.
  • Have you had any booster doses? Having all recommended COVID-19 vaccine doses, including boosters, increases your protection from serious illness.
  • Are you at increased risk for severe illness? Anyone can get COVID-19 . But older adults and people of any age with certain medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 .
  • Do you live with someone who's at increased risk for severe illness? If you get infected while traveling, you can spread the COVID-19 virus to the people you live with when you return, even if you don't have symptoms.
  • Does your home or destination have requirements or restrictions for travelers? Even if you've had all recommended vaccine doses, you must follow local, state and federal testing and travel rules.

Check local requirements, restrictions and situations

Some state, local and territorial governments have requirements, such as requiring people to wear masks, get tested, be vaccinated or stay isolated for a period of time after arrival. Before you go, check for requirements at your destination and anywhere you might stop along the way.

Keep in mind these can change often and quickly depending on local conditions. It's also important to understand that the COVID-19 situation, such as the level of spread and presence of variants, varies in each country. Check back for updates as your trip gets closer.

Travel and testing

For vaccinated people.

If you have been fully vaccinated, the CDC states that you don't need to get tested before or after your trip within the U.S. or stay home (quarantine) after you return.

If you're planning to travel internationally outside the U.S., the CDC states you don't need to get tested before your trip unless it's required at your destination. Before arriving to the U.S., you need a negative test within the last day before your arrival or a record of recovery from COVID-19 in the last three months.

After you arrive in the U.S., the CDC recommends getting tested with a viral test 3 to 5 days after your trip. If you're traveling to the U.S. and you aren't a citizen, you need to be fully vaccinated and have proof of vaccination.

You don't need to quarantine when you arrive in the U.S. But check for any symptoms. Stay at home if you develop symptoms.

For unvaccinated people

Testing before and after travel can lower the risk of spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 . If you haven't been vaccinated, the CDC recommends getting a viral test within three days before your trip. Delay travel if you're waiting for test results. Keep a copy of your results with you when you travel.

Repeat the test 3 to 5 days after your trip. Stay home for five days after travel.

If at any point you test positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 , stay home. Stay at home and away from others if you develop symptoms. Follow public health recommendations.

Stay safe when you travel

In the U.S., you must wear a face mask on planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transportation. The mask must fit snugly and cover both your mouth and nose.

Follow these steps to protect yourself and others when you travel:

  • Get vaccinated.
  • Keep distance between yourself and others (within about 6 feet, or 2 meters) when you're in indoor public spaces if you're not fully vaccinated. This is especially important if you have a higher risk of serious illness.
  • Avoid contact with anyone who is sick or has symptoms.
  • Avoid crowds and indoor places that have poor air flow (ventilation).
  • Don't touch frequently touched surfaces, such as handrails, elevator buttons and kiosks. If you must touch these surfaces, use hand sanitizer or wash your hands afterward.
  • Wear a face mask in indoor public spaces. The CDC recommends wearing the most protective mask possible that you'll wear regularly and that fits. If you are in an area with a high number of new COVID-19 cases, wear a mask in indoor public places and outdoors in crowded areas or when you're in close contact with people who aren't vaccinated.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • If soap and water aren't available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub your hands together until they feel dry.
  • Don't eat or drink on public transportation. That way you can keep your mask on the whole time.

Because of the high air flow and air filter efficiency on airplanes, most viruses such as the COVID-19 virus don't spread easily on flights. Wearing masks on planes has likely helped lower the risk of getting the COVID-19 virus on flights too.

However, air travel involves spending time in security lines and airport terminals, which can bring you in close contact with other people. Getting vaccinated and wearing a mask when traveling can help protect you from COVID-19 while traveling.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has increased cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces and equipment, including bins, at screening checkpoints. TSA has also made changes to the screening process:

  • Travelers must wear masks during screening. However, TSA employees may ask travelers to adjust masks for identification purposes.
  • Travelers should keep a distance of 6 feet apart from other travelers when possible.
  • Instead of handing boarding passes to TSA officers, travelers should place passes (paper or electronic) directly on the scanner and then hold them up for inspection.
  • Each traveler may have one container of hand sanitizer up to 12 ounces (about 350 milliliters) in a carry-on bag. These containers will need to be taken out for screening.
  • Personal items such as keys, wallets and phones should be placed in carry-on bags instead of bins. This reduces the handling of these items during screening.
  • Food items should be carried in a plastic bag and placed in a bin for screening. Separating food from carry-on bags lessens the likelihood that screeners will need to open bags for inspection.

Be sure to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds directly before and after going through screening.

Public transportation

If you travel by bus or train and you aren't vaccinated, be aware that sitting or standing within 6 feet (2 meters) of others for a long period can put you at higher risk of getting or spreading COVID-19 . Follow the precautions described above for protecting yourself during travel.

Even if you fly, you may need transportation once you arrive at your destination. You can search car rental options and their cleaning policies on the internet. If you plan to stay at a hotel, check into shuttle service availability.

If you'll be using public transportation and you aren't vaccinated, continue physical distancing and wearing a mask after reaching your destination.

Hotels and other lodging

The hotel industry knows that travelers are concerned about COVID-19 and safety. Check any major hotel's website for information about how it's protecting guests and staff. Some best practices include:

  • Enhanced cleaning procedures
  • Physical distancing recommendations indoors for people who aren't vaccinated
  • Mask-wearing and regular hand-washing by staff
  • Mask-wearing indoors for guests in public places in areas that have high cases of COVID-19
  • Vaccine recommendations for staff
  • Isolation and testing guidelines for staff who've been exposed to COVID-19
  • Contactless payment
  • Set of rules in case a guest becomes ill, such as closing the room for cleaning and disinfecting
  • Indoor air quality measures, such as regular system and air filter maintenance, and suggestions to add air cleaners that can filter viruses and bacteria from the air

Vacation rentals, too, are enhancing their cleaning procedures. They're committed to following public health guidelines, such as using masks and gloves when cleaning, and building in a waiting period between guests.

Make a packing list

When it's time to pack for your trip, grab any medications you may need on your trip and these essential safe-travel supplies:

  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol)
  • Disinfectant wipes (at least 70% alcohol)
  • Thermometer

Considerations for people at increased risk

Anyone can get very ill from the virus that causes COVID-19 . But older adults and people of any age with certain medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness. This may include people with cancer, serious heart problems and a weakened immune system. Getting the recommended COVID-19 vaccine and booster doses can help lower your risk of being severely ill from COVID-19 .

Travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19 . If you're unvaccinated, staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 . If you must travel and aren't vaccinated, talk with your health care provider and ask about any additional precautions you may need to take.

Remember safety first

Even the most detailed and organized plans may need to be set aside when someone gets ill. Stay home if you or any of your travel companions:

  • Have signs or symptoms, are sick or think you have COVID-19
  • Are waiting for results of a COVID-19 test
  • Have been diagnosed with COVID-19
  • Have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 in the past five days and you're not up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines

If you've had close contact with someone with COVID-19 , get tested after at least five days. Wait to travel until you have a negative test. Wear a mask if you travel up to 10 days after you've had close contact with someone with COVID-19 .

  • How to protect yourself and others. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html. Accessed Feb. 4, 2022.
  • Domestic travel during COVID-19. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/travel-during-covid19.html. Accessed Feb. 4, 2022.
  • Requirement for face masks on public transportation conveyances and at transportation hubs. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/face-masks-public-transportation.html. Accessed Feb. 4, 2022.
  • International travel. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/international-travel/index.html. Accessed Feb. 4, 2022.
  • U.S citizens, U.S. nationals, U.S. lawful permanent residents, and immigrants: Travel to and from the United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/international-travel-during-covid19.html. Accessed Feb. 4, 2022.
  • Non-US. citizen, non-U.S. immigrants: Air travel to the United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/noncitizens-US-air-travel.html. Accessed Feb. 4, 2022.
  • People with certain medical conditions. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-with-medical-conditions.html. Accessed Feb. 4, 2022.
  • Stay up to date with your vaccines. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/stay-up-to-date.html. Accessed Feb. 4, 2022.
  • Pack smart. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/pack-smart. Accessed Feb. 4, 2022.
  • Travel: Frequently asked questions. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/faqs.html. Accessed Feb. 7, 2022.
  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) information. Transportation Security Administration. https://www.tsa.gov/coronavirus. Accessed Feb. 7, 2022.
  • WHO advice for international traffic in relation to the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant (B.1.1.529). World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/news-room/articles-detail/who-advice-for-international-traffic-in-relation-to-the-sars-cov-2-omicron-variant. Accessed Feb. 7, 2022.
  • VRHP/VRMA Cleaning guidelines for COVID-19. Vacation Rental Management Association. https://www.vrma.org/page/vrhp/vrma-cleaning-guidelines-for-covid-19. Accessed Feb. 7, 2022.
  • Safe stay. American Hotel & Lodging Association. https://www.ahla.com/safestay. Accessed Feb. 7, 2022.
  • Khatib AN, et al. COVID-19 transmission and the safety of air travel during the pandemic: A scoping review. Current Opinion in Infectious Diseases. 2021; doi:10.1097/QCO.0000000000000771.

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How much does a travel agent cost?

Do travel agents get discounts on flights, how can a travel agent help me, how do i find a good travel agent.

With a few keystrokes, you can find cheap travel deals on the web. But travel agents can do that and more.

Often, travel agents receive deals directly from hotels and tour operators that you may not have access to. They also have contacts with resorts and hotels, so they can bargain for better deals. But just how much do travel agents cost? Some people assume that travel agents are expensive, which may keep them from using their services. However, that's not necessarily true.

The cost of using a travel agent is generally marginal, and often, they won't charge you at all. Much of their money comes from commissions the hotels and wholesalers pay them. Before you decide to book with a travel agent, inquire whether or not they charge fees.

Also, if you’ve booked a trip with a travel agent and for whatever reason need to cancel, they might be able to help get the refund more directly.

» Learn more: How to become a travel agent

Generally not, and especially not for short distances. For the most part, any discount you'd get from using a travel agent would be for a combined package. Still, it never hurts to ask if your travel agent can get you a deal on your flight.

If you're traveling internationally — especially to a country you've never visited — a travel agent can be a useful resource in helping you plan your trip. They can manage all of your booking needs, which can be easier than juggling a long itinerary that includes flights, hotels and excursions on your own.

Group travel is another common situation that can benefit from an agent's assistance. Coordinating bookings across multiple parties can get confusing. A travel agent can keep things organized, negotiate with services and personally work out any complications that may arise. Rather than trying to reserve rooms in the same hotels and seats on the same flights with multiple credit cards and names, let a travel agent do that work.

Travel agents can also be helpful by providing destination advice. Many specialize in particular destinations and can offer insight as to how you should structure your visit. Agents can direct you to the services, facilities and entertainment that best align with your interests and needs.

» Learn more: Other things a travel agent can do that a search engine can't

Several websites can help you track down and contact suitable travel agents. TravelSense.org , part of the American Society of Travel Advisors, allows you to search by some useful parameters including specialty and geographic location.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2024 , including those best for:

Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express

Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

1x-5x 5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases.

60,000 Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

1.5%-6.5% Enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel; 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year). After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

$300 Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

2x-5x Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.

75,000 Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

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Need travel vaccines? Plan ahead.

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International travel increases your chances of getting and spreading diseases that are rare or not found in United States. Find out which travel vaccines you may need to help you stay healthy on your trip.

Before Travel

Make sure you are up-to-date on all of your routine vaccines . Routine vaccinations protect you from infectious diseases such as measles that can spread quickly in groups of unvaccinated people. Many diseases prevented by routine vaccination are not common in the United States but are still common in other countries.

Check CDC’s destination pages for travel health information . Check CDC’s webpage for your destination to see what vaccines or medicines you may need and what diseases or health risks are a concern at your destination.

Make an appointment with your healthcare provider or a travel health specialist  that takes place at least one month before you leave. They can help you get destination-specific vaccines, medicines, and information. Discussing your health concerns, itinerary, and planned activities with your provider allows them to give more specific advice and recommendations.

Because some vaccines require multiple doses, it’s best to see your health care provider as soon as possible.

Medicines to prevent malaria are pills that you start to take before travel. Take recommended medicines as directed. If your health care provider prescribes medicine for you, take the medicine as directed before, during, and after travel. 

Where can I get travel vaccines?

You may be able to get some travel vaccines from your primary healthcare provider. If you or your healthcare provider need help finding a location that provides certain vaccines or medicines, visit CDC’s Find a Clinic page.

If yellow fever vaccine is recommended or required for your destination, you’ll need to go to a vaccine center authorized to give yellow fever vaccinations. Many yellow fever vaccine centers also provide other pre-travel health care services. Find an  authorized US yellow fever vaccine center .

Examples of Vaccines

Here is a list of possible vaccines that you may need to get for the first time or boosters before you travel.

  • Cholera 
  • Flu (Influenza)
  • Hepatitis A   
  • Hepatitis B   
  • Japanese encephalitis   
  • MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella)
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  • Pneumococcal   
  • Polio   
  • Rabies   
  • Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis)
  • Typhoid   
  • Yellow fever

More Information

CDC Yellow Book: Travel Vaccine Summary Table

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Join DO Travel Rewards, the loyalty program of the Dominican Republic, and unlock exclusive benefits while making your job easier. No matter where your clients book, if it's for the Dominican Republic, reporting those bookings opens the door to cashback opportunities and so much more.

Connect with a vibrant community of like-minded professionals and access streamlined tools designed to enhance your experience.  Elevate your journey with DO Travel Rewards – sign up now and enjoy the perks of being a valued member!

Together, let's lead the way, inspire others, and create a future where extraordinary travel experiences become the rule.


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How to Fly Your Kid Solo, Free of Stress

An illustration of children flying solo on the airplane.

By Alexander Nazaryan

For many parents and guardians, putting a child on a flight alone may seem terrifying. Belligerent passengers, delays, turbulence: All loom large in a caregiver’s imagination.

Life sometimes leaves no other option. Hudson Crites , 17, of Marshall, Va., was 10 when he started flying unaccompanied to visit his father in Kansas and later Georgia, said his mother, Chelsea Tippett. But the extra attention from airline staff made Hudson “feel special,” Ms. Tippett recalls. Other than a single tarmac delay, he has had no problems.

On rare occasions, children have had troubling experiences. In December, Spirit Airlines accidentally flew a 6-year-old to Orlando, Fla., instead of the intended destination of Fort Myers. Spirit apologized, fired the gate agent responsible and offered reimbursement to the boy’s grandmother for her travel to Orlando. But while the boy was unharmed, his grandmother expressed worry that he had been kidnapped .

If you decide to fly your child unaccompanied, you’ll discover that each airline has its own procedures, fees and routes open to children. While some may find the process complicated, flying alone may be exciting for your child, instilling some independence. Here’s what you need to know.

Before you book, know the process

Regardless of the airline or route, flying an unaccompanied minor differs from an adult or a family catching a flight. Airlines require a trusted pre-authorized adult to be at the departure and arrival gates, and will ask you at booking to provide contact information for those adults. They will also need to present identification at the terminals.

The journey begins at the originating airport’s airline ticket counter. There, airline staff will check your identification and check in the child, perhaps handing them a lanyard or wristband to wear. The agents will provide you with a pass to get through security with your child. You will accompany them to the gate, where you will hand them off to a gate agent. You must stay at the gate until the plane takes off.

In the air, the flight crew will keep watch — but will not babysit, or sit with, your child. If the flight has a connection, a crew member will walk your child off the plane and a gate agent will take him or her to the next gate.

At the arrival airport, the child will be handed off by staff to the authorized guardian or parent who should have already checked in at the ticket counter with proper identification, gone through security with their gate pass and be waiting at the gate.

To learn more about this process, read the Department of Transportation’s online guide, “When Kids Fly Alone,” followed by the website of your selected carrier.

Choosing an airline and paying an extra fee

Before purchasing a ticket, experts advise you to consider an airline’s on-time performance. “Solid on-time performance is hard-earned, and signals a carrier that has tight control of its operation,” said the Ask the Pilot author, Patrick Smith. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics has those numbers.

Booking procedures vary. Delta Air Lines and American Airlines require you to call. United Airlines allows bookings online. JetBlue Airways does online bookings, too, but asks for three printed copies of its forms upon arrival at the airport.

International flights may call for a notarized consent letter describing where the child is traveling, with whom they’ll stay and how long they’ll be there.

On top of the ticket fare, flying an unaccompanied minor can be pricey.

Southwest Airlines charges $100 one way for each child, regardless of distance. Alaska Airlines charges $50 per child if the flight is nonstop; a connection adds $25. On Delta, one $150 fee will cover up to four children, and American’s $150 covers all siblings, with no cap on number. United charges $150 for one child, or two children flying together.

Restrictions: There are plenty

U.S. carriers allow children to fly as unaccompanied minors once they turn 5 and before they turn 18. But regardless of your child’s age, make sure he or she is ready by discussing the trip details and your expectations of their behavior. No policy can replace your judgment.

The low-cost carriers Frontier Airlines and Allegiant Air don’t allow unaccompanied minors, Other airlines have restrictions that, in the broadest terms, differentiate between young children and teenagers. American and Delta restrict children under 8 from routes requiring connections. Both airlines allow children between 8 and 14 to take some connecting flights.

On American, no unaccompanied minor is allowed to take an overnight flight requiring a connection, or a flight that includes a connection on its final leg that also happens to be the last such flight that day (“unless it’s the only flight,” the company adds). Minors are not allowed on code-share flights.

United and Delta have similar rules. Southwest, JetBlue and Spirit don’t allow unaccompanied minors on connecting flights.

JetBlue prohibits minors from flying to Europe, and limits the number of unaccompanied minors in one party to three. Spirit does not allow children on flights to Central or South America. Southwest doesn’t allow children on any international flights. American, United and Delta let minors fly abroad, but restrictions on connections, code-shares and overnights limit options.

American and Delta allow children to opt out of flying as unaccompanied minors once they turn 15 — that is, the child can fly without the assistance of airline personnel. JetBlue ends unaccompanied minor service at 14, while Alaska has an opt-out option at 13. Southwest boasts the lowest opt-out age: 12.

However, you should be able to accompany your child to the gate even if they’re not flying unaccompanied. American requires that you do so for teens between the ages of 15 and 17, even if they’ve opted out.

What to pack

Have a plan to head off your child’s hunger, boredom and thirst. If they are older, make sure they have emergency money and a charged phone.

When her two daughters, then 9 and 11, flew to Denver, Joey Conover of Charlottesville, Va., had a long list for their carry-ons.

“Pack a backpack with iPad, headphones, lightweight book to read, a pad of paper and colored pencils (markers might smear), a small travel game, water bottle (bring empty and fill in airport), snacks, some kind of surprise fidget or animals to play with, hoodie, and a lovey,” she wrote in an email.

“Write your name and phone number on the inside of their arm in Sharpie and put a parent’s business card in a luggage tag on both suitcase and backpack,” Ms. Conover said. (A sheet of paper with all their identification, and their guardian’s contact information, also works. Simply stick in an easy-to-access pocket.)

Open Up Your World

Considering a trip, or just some armchair traveling here are some ideas..

52 Places:  Why do we travel? For food, culture, adventure, natural beauty? Our 2024 list has all those elements, and more .

Mumbai:  Spend 36 hours in this fast-changing Indian city  by exploring ancient caves, catching a concert in a former textile mill and feasting on mangoes.

Kyoto:  The Japanese city’s dry gardens offer spots for quiet contemplation  in an increasingly overtouristed destination.

Iceland:  The country markets itself as a destination to see the northern lights. But they can be elusive, as one writer recently found .

Texas:  Canoeing the Rio Grande near Big Bend National Park can be magical. But as the river dries, it’s getting harder to find where a boat will actually float .

Protect Your Trip »

Is a travel agent worth it the pros and cons.

Travel experts agree there are several advantages to hiring a vacation planner.

The Pros & Cons of Using a Travel Agent

Married couple with baby son in modern travel agency talking to a travel agent.

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A travel agent can save you money and time.

Need to pivot your trip plans but don't want to deal with the extra time, money and hassle of rebooking flights and accommodations on your own? That's just one area where a knowledgeable travel agent (also commonly known as a travel advisor) can help. Read on to discover the other benefits – as well as the downsides – of using a travel agent, so you can confidently decide whether or not a travel agent is worth it for your next trip.

The Pros of Using a Travel Agent

Travel agents can save you money – and get you other perks.

"In some cases, you'll actually get a better  deal by working with a travel agent," says Jackie Steele, travel expert at MagicGuides . "This could be in the form of a cruise onboard credit (free spending money to use on the ship), access to special agency/group rates, or even just learning about a discount you qualify for but weren't aware of." The best agents will even keep an eye on new discounts as they're announced and apply them to your trip even after you've booked, he notes.

Travel agents handle all the details

Hotel room? Booked. Dinner reservations? Made. Tour tickets? Ready to go. A travel agent handles every detail of your vacation itinerary. "The traveler still gets to be involved in the fun part of dreaming up ideas and providing their travel wishes, while we take and perfect them," says Jessica Parker, founder of Trip Whisperer .

Molly McShea, owner and travel advisor at McShea Travel , points out that travel agents can also help with timing logistics. "Travel agents know how many days should be spent in each destination, which tours go together, and how many things you should do in a day," she says, adding that crafting an itinerary can be challenging if it's not something you regularly do. Additionally, travel agents can help you choose the best time to visit your preferred destination(s) based on seasonality and your budget, and sift through travel insurance policies to find the best option for your needs.

Travel agents can provide local expertise

"A travel advisor's industry connections and relationships provide added value to their clients," says Valerie Edman, a luxury travel advisor and agency owner at Cultured Travel LLC. She says when working with a travel agent, travelers gain access to a global network of connections including:

  • In-destination specialists who work exclusively with travel advisors and can connect travelers with unique, off-the-beaten-path experiences they wouldn't otherwise know about
  • Exclusive experiences not available to the general public

You'll avoid surprise fees

When deciding if a travel agent is worth it for you, remember this: A reputable agent can guarantee you won't encounter any surprise fees on accommodations and activities once your trip is booked.

You'll have someone to troubleshoot unexpected travel issues

A travel advisor is essentially your personal vacation concierge. "Because they've been around for so long, agents really know what to look for," says Christopher Elliott , a consumer advocate and journalist. "Travel agents are among the first to know about flight cancellations and delays , making it easy for them to rebook itineraries right away." 

The Cons of Using a Travel Agent

It might not be your cheapest option.

There are some instances when it makes more sense to plan your own trip. "If you're planning a quick flight from New York City to Los Angeles, it's easy enough to book it yourself online directly or through a third-party booking site," says Elliott. "If you're planning a once-in-a-lifetime trip or bucket list honeymoon , that's when you call the experts."

You'll have less flexibility in your itinerary

The upside of working with a travel agent is having someone plan an epic vacation for you based on industry knowledge and local expertise. But this can also be a downside in the event you discover an activity you'd like to do or a restaurant you'd like to try that isn't on your pre-planned itinerary. If you alter your plans, you risk losing money; plus, the time it takes for you and your travel agent to coordinate your change of plans may not be worth the hassle.

You still have to do some research

It's important to find an agent you can trust, which means you still have to do some of the vacation planning. For this part, Parker recommends picking up the phone. "Lots of people avoid or don't pick up the phone as much anymore," she says. "That's where you get the high-touch service, tone of voice, excitement or concerns to manage." She advises to look for the following red flags:

  • No fees: " Travel advisors are charging planning fees more now or increasing them, so the client knows more confidently than ever, we work for them, not the suppliers with the best commissions," Parker explains. "There are a lot of things that are non-commissionable and the advisor's time and expertise shouldn't be given away for free, either. That's the best way to show an advisor takes their business seriously."
  • Limited options: If you work with someone who is inexperienced or has an incentive to book you with a certain supplier, they may not be prioritizing your best interests. "It's important to check if they are with a larger consortia, accreditations and network, typically listed on their website and signatures," says Parker. "That level of mindshare doesn't come with a lone advisor unless they have many, many years of experience."
  • Slow response times: If communication is delayed, that's a sign they may be too busy to plan your trip – but again, this is something you can avoid by having the right conversations early on.

Edman suggestes starting your search with the American Society of Travel Advisors . "ASTA-verified travel advisors are committed to the highest industry standards and have verifiable industry knowledge so consumers can feel confident in working with them," she says.

You might also be interested in:

  • Is Travel Insurance Worth It?
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  • Carry-on Luggage Sizes by Airline
  • What to Pack in Your Carry-on Bag

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Her personality is the good ole fashion customer service way; she definitely doing travel right!

Way past due for a great review! Lee planned my 60th birthday cruise with 6 friends and my adult daughter. I’ve never been on a cruise and so we decided to go to Cozumel out of Galveston. Lee handled all of the arrangements and it was so easy just to let the Pro take the reins. We had such a good time and I would highly recommend her for all of your vacation needs. Thank you, Lee! You are the best!

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Do Travel Agents Get Discounts? A Travel Advisor Perks Guide

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If you’ve been thinking about becoming a travel advisor (also known as a travel agent), you’re likely already a travel enthusiast . You’re probably drawn to the idea of helping others travel more, because you’ve experienced how incredible travel can be. Now, you want an opportunity that fulfills that wish and makes it easier for you to travel — both logistically and financially.

So, you’re probably asking yourself a few questions, like “Do travel agents get discounts?” and “Are there other benefits to becoming a travel advisor? 

What are the Perks of Being a Travel Agent ?

Some would say one important benefit of being a travel advisor is the work itself. You get to help arrange awesome family vacations, once-in-a-lifetime trips and friends’ dream vacations. You get paid to book travel — and that’s a fun way to earn money! Plus, there are extra perks in it for you, too. 

First: Do travel agents get discounts? Of course! When you become a part-time travel advisor with Dream Vacations, you get the unique opportunity to travel for a fraction of the normal cost. Travel agents often get discounts that help put exciting vacation experiences in reach., thanks to our close relationship with suppliers across the travel industry. 

Better yet, Dream Vacations travel advisors can access opportunities to travel for free. Familiarization trips (or “FAM” trips), offer travel advisors the opportunity to explore a particular travel product. You’ll gain firsthand experience with the cruises, resorts, or tours that you’re helping others plan to explore – perhaps the best possible way to gain critical vacation knowledge! If you’ve ever wondered how to turn a vacation into a business trip , this might be your answer! 

How to Work Remotely and Travel

Speaking of combining business and pleasure, the ability to work remotely and travel is another huge perk of becoming a Dream Vacations travel advisor. You get to do what you already love to do — travel — and you can bring your work anywhere in the world. 

When you become a Dream Vacations advisor, your ability to earn income becomes extremely mobile. You can sell Cancun resort stays from a beach in Hawaii or plan a client’s honeymoon cruise from a cabin in the Colorado mountains. 

While you’re traveling, you can work for a couple hours in the morning, then do as you please in the afternoon (or vice versa). Since you’re your own boss as a travel advisor, your schedule is all up to you, and depending on your financial or lifestyle goals, you can work as much or as little as you want. 

If you plan to work while traveling, all you need is a laptop or smartphone and access to the internet. If you plan to work while on a trip, it’s also helpful to bring along things you’d use in your home office, like an external mouse or noise-canceling headphones. 

Earn Travel Agent Perks By Joining Dream Vacations

If you’ve ever wondered, “Do travel agents get discounts?” the answer is yes! Plus, it might be time to think even bigger — because many other perks are available in this career.  When you become a travel advisor with Dream Vacations, you get access to discounts, travel opportunities, supplemental income and the flexibility of remote work. Watch our free webinar or contact our team to learn more about how to make the jump to this exciting lifestyle!

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The Office of Travel Management serves as the Department's point of contact for the following services:

  • Headquarters Travel Management Center (TMC)

Sustainable Travel

Official Travel, Domestic and Foreign

  • Required Foreign Travel Training

Foreign Travel Management System (FTMS)

  • Travel Card Information (on Powerpedia, DOENET access only)

Official Travel Regulations and Guidelines

  • Travel Services Training Videos   (on Powerpedia, DOENET access only)

U.S. Passports and Visa Services (Official and Diplomatic)

Non-Refundable Airfare Guidance

Official International Travel Health Insurance for DOE Employees (MA & S-1-4)

  • Hotel Reservations
  • Contacts for Travel Services
  • Travel FAQs

Travel Management Center (TMC)

The Office of the Chief Financial Officer oversees the Travel Management Center (TMC).

The Reservation Center phone number is 1-888-205-2369 (same number for emergency after-hours).

In addition, travel arrangements can be made via e:mail at [email protected] , or [email protected] . A transaction fee is charged for each ticket issued.

For questions about the Travel Management Center, email: [email protected] .

See ADTRAV Travel Bulletins at:  https://www.adtrav.com/travel-bulletins

  • White House M-24-05, Catalyzing Sustainable Transportation Through Federal Travel .  The purpose of this Memorandum is to instruct Federal agencies on prioritizing sustainable transportation for official travel.  By prioritizing sustainable transportation methods for official travel, many of which have achieved cost parity with other transportation methods, agencies can leverage the Federal demand signal for public transit, automobile, rail, and air travel, which will result in the Federal Government’s saving taxpayer dollars and reducing its environmental footprint. 
  • GSA Bulletin Federal Travel Regulation (FTR) 24-02 Sustainable Transportation for Official Temporary Duty (TDY) Travel .  This bulletin clarifies existing regulations for determining the method of transportation that is most advantageous to the Government and encourages Federal travelers to make sustainable, cost-effective transportation choices when conducting official TDY travel.
  • Review the listing of FedRooms properties with electric vehicle charging , and continue to check back for more resources promoting sustainable travel at DOE.  

Official travel is any travel by a federal or contract employee who is conducting U.S. government business for authorized and official purposes. DOE federal travelers approved to travel for official purposes must make travel reservations through the Department of Energy E-Gov Travel Service 2 (eTS2) .

ADTRAV Travel Management is one of the Department of Energy’s Travel Management Centers, providing a full range of travel agent services including, but not limited to, arranging and booking official travel for individuals and groups; making travel related reservations; providing customer service; reconciling central billed accounts; and providing travel related reports and information to management.  

All Federal employees' travel for DOE requires prior travel authorization and approval in the eTS 2 at: https://in-gotravel.doe.gov

Official Foreign Travel

Official foreign travel is defined as approved travel (whether wholly or partly on official business) from the United States (including Alaska, Hawaii, the Commonwealths of Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands, and the territories and possessions of the United States) to a foreign country and return or travel between foreign countries by persons, including foreign nationals, or persons whose salaries or travel expenses or both will ultimately be funded in whole or in part by DOE/NNSA from its appropriations.  Official foreign travel may also include travel funded by non-DOE or non-NNSA sources for which the traveler represents the Department or NNSA or conducts business on behalf of the U.S. Government.

The Department of State offers a free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to U.S. citizens who are traveling to, or living in, a foreign country.  Registration allows you to record information about your upcoming trip abroad that the Department of State can use to assist you in case of an emergency.  The Department of State will also provide Travel Alerts and Warnings through STEP.  To enroll please go to: https://step.state.gov/STEP/Pages/Common/Citizenship.aspx

Foreign Travel Training Required by the State Department

The Foreign Travel Management System (FTMS) is a DOE-wide centralized system for recording, tracking, and securing approvals of all foreign travel conducted by DOE Federal employees and contractors. In order for DOE Federal employees and contractors to conduct international travel, the trip request must be entered and approved in FTMS.  Prior to final approval within FTMS, country clearance must be obtained from the respective country(ies) to be visited.  The system is located at:  https://ftms.doe.gov/   FTMS should be available from most, if not all, DOE sites (you need to be attached to a DOE network to access it).

Processing Foreign Travel at DOE includes the following requirements:

  • Approved Travel Authorization in the electronic Travel System 2 (eTS2)   (Federal employees only)
  • A completed trip request in FTMS
  • Country Clearance Approval
  • Valid Official or Diplomatic Passport
  • Appropriate and valid Visa(s)
  • Review of required immunizations
  • Letter of Invitation (LOI) - when required
  • DOE O 550.1 Chg 1, Official Travel  (DOE Directives)
  • DOE M 552.1-1A, U.S. Department of Energy Travel Manual  (DOE Directives)
  • Federal Travel Regulation (GSA)

Travel Services Training Videos

Travel Training Videos are being developed to address reoccurring issues found on DOE-HQ travel vouchers, and to educate DOE travelers and approving officials on travel requirements.

The videos are for DOE employees only, and are available though  Powerpedia  the Department's internal collaboration system.  Please follow this link to the Office of Travel Management's page with the links to the videos and other travel related resources.  The Powerpedia is accessible to all DOE employees while logged onto a DOE network.

The Office of Travel Management (MA-45) provides a variety of services, which facilitate DOE’s international travel for Official or Diplomatic purposes.  The Department of Energy has an authorized Passport unit, and as such, administers Official and Diplomatic Passport and Visa applications and forward to the Department of State for approval.  Further information regarding DOE employees requesting an Official or Diplomatic Passport is available on the Powerpedia, Passports and Visa Services .

The Passport is an internationally recognized travel document that verifies the identity and nationality of the bearer.  A valid U.S. Passport is required to enter and leave most foreign countries.  All persons, whether U.S. Citizens or foreign nationals, must present a valid passport or alternate approved travel document to enter or depart from the United States by air. Additional information is available at the following websites:

  • General Travel Information at the U.S. State Department
  • Department of Homeland Security, Traveling Overseas
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Travel Information

Official and Diplomatic Passports are the property of the U.S. Government and are authorized for Official Use Only.  An Official Passport is issued to an official or employee of the U.S. Government proceeding abroad in the discharge of official duties.  Where appropriate, dependents of such persons may be issued Official passports (22 Code of Federal Regulations, Chapter 1 51.3 (c)(1)).  A Diplomatic Passport is issued to a Foreign Service Officer, a person in the diplomatic service or to a person having diplomatic status either because of the nature of his or her foreign mission or by reason of the office he or she holds.  Where appropriate, dependents of such persons may be issued Diplomatic passports (22 Code of Federal Regulations Chapter 1 51.3 (d)).

U.S. Passport Applications must be completed online via the Department of State's website at: https://www.travel.state.gov .  The completed form must be printed and submitted with an original signature, to the Office of Travel Management (MA-45) in room GE-180, Forrestal Headquarters.  Typically, advance timing of 3-4 weeks is needed for DOE to process and obtain a passport from the Department of State.  The requirements for an Official passport include:

  • the passport application,
  • two photos,
  • Proof of birth (passport, expired passport, or birth certificate),
  • Memo on the agency letterhead to the Director, Office of Travel Management, which provides information about the traveler’s grade, title, pending trip, and purpose of travel.

The Visa is a stamp placed in the passport, issued by the foreign consular officials at the Embassy of the foreign country which indicates that country’s approval of your visit and granting permission for you to enter that country for a specific time duration. Most countries require that a passport be valid for at least six months beyond the dates of travel before a visa can be issued.

Visa requirements for official travel differ from the visa requirements for personal and private industry travel.  Processing times for visas are dictated by the various embassies.  When planning official travel, employees are reminded to allow sufficient time for the passport and/or visa application(s) to be processed and returned to DOE. 

Important Notes:

  • Original signatures are required for each Visa Application.
  • Foreign embassies will not issue a visa in Official or Diplomatic Passports without a letter from the Department of State.
  • For purposes of official travel for DOE all officials are required to use a Diplomatic or Official  passport for a number of reasons:
  • A Diplomatic or Official visa cannot be stamped into a tourist passport.
  • A visa will not be granted for entry into a foreign country when the reason for travel to that country is stated as official business and the tourist passport is presented.
  • Some countries will deny entry at the border to individuals entering the country on official government business when they arrive with only a tourist passport and not the official passport.  Further problems may also occur upon departure from that country.
  • Violation of Sovereignty.  Use of the tourist passport when traveling in an official capacity misrepresents the true purpose for which the traveler has entered the country.  This can have serious and adverse affects on the U.S. reciprocal relations with foreign countries.
  • Security concerns. Should there be a problem which in the host country, the official passport provides quicker access to officials of the host country government and greater protection.
  • Travelers need to be 99.9% certain of itinerary.
  • The closer to departure date, the higher the price of a non-refundable ticket.
  • Non-refundable airfares should be ticketed within 24 hours of booking; however, this does not guarantee the airfare will be available.  Carrier tariff’s change frequently throughout a 24-hour period and are never guaranteed until ticketed.
  • All non-refundable tickets should be purchased on the CBA.

PROGRAM OFFICE ACCOUNTABILITY The employee and approving official are to be fully aware of all of the terms and conditions of the ticket.

The program office and approving official are responsible for ensuring that the ticket is reused for official business on a future trip and is not used by the employee for personal use in the unanticipated event that the ticket is not used for the planned trip.

  • Non-refundable seats are NOT upgradable.
  • Non-refundable seat maps are very limited, so seats may not be desirable by the traveler.


Travel authorization must provide a justification for use of the non-contract.


Non-refundable is exactly that – if a traveler does not travel, or does not use all tickets, DOE will not receive a refund as such when using a contract fare.

Fully unused ticket – value of the ticket available usually 1 year from date of ticket issuance (not date of travel).  Some conditions vary.  Penalties and fees apply when fully unused ticket applied.

Outbound used, return unused – partial used tickets have NO value for future travel.

Only fully unused tickets will receive a credit, credits are not transferrable and only valid for one year from date of ticket issuance not dates of travel.

If the outbound is not taken, the return can never be used on a non-refundable ticket.  The carrier will negate the value of the ticket and show the reservation as “no-show.” 

Reservations must be cancelled or value of ticket is lost.  This applies to outbound and return segments.  If you are late for your outbound flight, the carrier will indicate traveler as a “no show.”

If a traveler leaves the Department before using the credit, cost for the unused return is lost.

For further information follow this link for the FAQs on non-refundable tickets .  

The Department of Energy provides insurance for DOE employees on official overseas travel.  The Office of Travel Management (MA-45) manages the Travel & Medical Insurance accounts for the Office of the Secretary, Deputy Secretary, and Under Secretary of Energy.  In addition, MA-45 provides information to DOE Program Offices regarding travel insurance services. The International plan includes the following coverage:

  • Travel Insurance for International Travelers
  • International Emergency Assistance
  • 24 hour multilingual emergency medical and security assistance
  • Evacuation and repatriation programs
  • Customized global travel solutions, pre-travel advice and contingency planning

Click here to go to the Travel FAQs

MAAdm updated 04/10/24

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Travel | Travel: How to visit New Orleans during the…

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Travel | travel: how to visit new orleans during the annual jazz & heritage festival.

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The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival provides an overflowing musical feast each day for two weekends, Thursday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. But the city doesn’t fall quiet when night descends and the fairgrounds close. Nighttime in New Orleans is always bright with music, but it never sounds fuller and sweeter than those 11 nights during the festival, which this year goes from April 25 through May 5.

Keith Abel, who gives music-related walking tours in the city, emphasizes that the special shows go nonstop, from the first night of the festival to the last. For the opening night, he recommends the Threadhead Cultural Foundation’s free concert in the New Orleans Botanical Garden. And each day you can leave the festival and walk two blocks to a street party called Sauvage Fest.

The final Sunday at 1 p.m. will feature a street naming, complete with a second line band, honoring influential piano player Professor Longhair. (It starts at the Old Caledonia Inn on Rampart Street and goes to 1738 Terpsichore Street.) “That’s so New Orleans,” Abel says. And after the festival’s finale, head to Papa Mali’s Poylester Birthday Party for a tribute to David Lindley featuring The Iguanas, Alvin Youngblood Hart and others at the intimate Chickie Wah Wah’s. “It’s as big as my house,” Abel says.

Members of Cha Wa perform at d.b.a. on Tuesday, May...

Members of Cha Wa perform at d.b.a. on Tuesday, May 3, 2022, in New Orleans. (Photo by Amy Harris, Invision/AP)

Festivalgoers are seen in the rain at the 2023 New...

Festivalgoers are seen in the rain at the 2023 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on Saturday, May 6, 2023, at the Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)

Ivan Neville of Dumpstaphunk performs at the New Orleans Jazz...

Ivan Neville of Dumpstaphunk performs at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, on Sunday, May 1, 2022, in New Orleans. (Photo by Amy Harris, Invision/AP)

George Porter Jr., from left, Zigaboo Modeliste, Ivan Neville, Ian...

George Porter Jr., from left, Zigaboo Modeliste, Ivan Neville, Ian Neville, and Tony Hall of the Foundation of Funk performs at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival on Friday, April 26, 2019, in New Orleans. (Photo by Amy Harris, Invision/AP)

George Porter Jr. performs at the New Orleans Jazz and...

George Porter Jr. performs at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, on Saturday, April 30, 2022, in New Orleans. (Photo by Amy Harris, Invision/AP)

Production engineers record the band Galactic for a video stream...

Production engineers record the band Galactic for a video stream concert, inside an empty Tipitina’s music club in New Orleans. (Photo by Gerald Herbert, Associated Press)

Bass player George Porter Jr., a longtime fixture on the...

Bass player George Porter Jr., a longtime fixture on the New Orleans music scene and a founding member of the influential funk band the Meters, poses at the Maple Leaf Bar in New Orleans, Thursday, April 20, 2023. (Photo by Kevin McGill, Associated Press)

But there are dozens of clubs and theaters featuring performances by the musicians in town for the festival. George Porter Jr., the bass player for the Meters who now has his own band, explains that many New Orleans acts spend much of the year on the road because local clubs’ exclusivity requirements make it difficult to earn a living at home — but those requirements vanish during Jazz Fest so the venues are packed each night with visiting stars and local legends.

“There’s lots of gigs to be had for a lot of cats,” says Ivan Neville, son of Aaron Neville of the Neville Brothers and leader of Dumpstaphunk. “Everyone comes to play shows, which gives people so many different choices and different types of music. This is the most amazing fun-filled, musically enriching, soul-feeding 11 days, man. There’s nothing like it.”

He says the first super jam was organized years ago by Zigaboo Modeliste, the Meters’ drummer, for a Thursday night show at 2 a.m. at the old Howlin’ Wolf location (another club, The Republic, is now there). “There was a line around the block of people waiting to get in,” Neville recalls. “That was something to behold and led to promoters bringing together different configurations of musicians for super jams during Jazz Fest.”

Porter says most tourists just think Bourbon Street is New Orleans, “but the bands there just play the top hits so why even bother — that’s music you can hear anywhere in the world. You’ve got to get off Bourbon Street to clubs like the Maple Leaf Bar or Tipitina’s to really hear New Orleans.”

Neville’s favorite club is Tipitina’s, which has survived for nearly 50 years — the members of the band Galactic bought it in 2018 to help keep it alive — but he says visitors should also check out Chickie Wah Wah, Howlin’ Wolf, DBA and Blue Nile.

“If you’ve never been here you’ve got to experience everything you can,” he says. “You should eat at Jacque-Imo’s which is right next door to the Maple Leaf Bar and then go in there.”

With so much to choose from, perhaps the easiest way to build a schedule is to focus on four members of New Orleans musical royalty: Porter, Neville, Galactic, and Trombone Shorty … If you can keep up with them:  Porter, who is 76, will be playing 21 shows across that span, although in a concession to age he says this is the first year he’s not playing a show that starts after 1 a.m.

“He’s inspiring, if not insane,” says Robert Mercurio, Galactic’s bass player, who is plenty busy himself — playing with Galactic, with FiyaPowa (which includes Galactic drummer Stanton Moore, Neville and other members of Dumpstaphunk), and with Dragon Smoke. That band, which rarely plays outside Jazz Fest, features Mercurio, Moore Neville and Eric Lindell. They play on the home turf of Tipitina’s on the Tuesday between wekeends but Mercurio says they started years ago at a place called The Dragon’s Den off Frenchman Street which he recommends as “a really cool room.”

These days, of course, Mercurio is mostly playing at Tipitina’s, which is “a cultural center for New Orleans music lovers,” he says, which means the band feels tremendous responsibility as owners.

“People here view it as their bar, we are just stewards. Playing here was always magical but since we took over that feeling just has been elevated. Some stages just feel like a cold shower where you’re just constantly trying to find that right temperature. But the second we step on stage at Tipitina’s it’s like we’re just soaking in a beautiful warm bath.”

While Mercurio doesn’t get to see many other shows during these eleven days —“I’m either eating, sleeping, rehearsing or performing” — he sees plenty of other musicians. “Tipitina has a loose side door — you never know who is going to stop by and play,” he says, adding that, “we  stretch out and jam a little more than normal here.”

Neville says that all these musicians in all these configurations frequently choose songs they know so they can rehearse on their own. “If you do your homework you can show up for soundcheck knowing what’s going on,” he says. Still, part of the thrill is knowing things won’t always go smoothly in these jam sessions. “There’s still a bit of an edge, which adds to that feeling of spontaneity. Sometimes the fun is knowing there could be a train wreck happening … although hopefully I’m not involved in any of those train wrecks.”

While most of the best shows are in clubs, where there’s time for bands to jam and room for fans to dance, the one worthy theater show is Trombone Shorty’s eighth “Treme Threauxdown” at the Saenger Theater on Saturday, April 27.

With the deaths of many of New Orleans’ elders in the last decade (Alan Toussaint, Art and Charles Neville, and Dr. John), Shorty has, to some extent, become the face of the city’s music scene, deftly blending jazz, funk, soul, hip-hop and rock — all with a great balance of virtuosity and showmanship.

Shorty, whose real name is Troy Andrews, attracts an endless list of stars to the Threauxdown, which has featured Galactic and Dumpstaphunk but also Mavis Staples, Dr. John, Joan Jett, Gary Clark Jr, Usher, and Steve Miller as announced guests, plus spontaneous additions like Jon Batiste and Wyclef Jean. Among the guests announced for this Threauxdown are Paul Janeway from St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Big Freedia, and Marcus King.

“If I was visiting from out of town I wouldn’t go to the big theater shows because what makes New Orleans is the unique vibe in the bar and club scene,” says Mercurio. “Troy’s ‘Threauxdown’ is the only theater show I’d go to because he gets these great special guests — a cavalcade of stars — so it’s not a show you’ll ever see anywhere else. “

Andrews also hosts Shorty Fest at Tipitina’s on April 29, which, in addition to a concert featuring his band and Galactic offers a free outdoor “Cultural Block Party,” with performances by local brass bands and Mardi Gras Indians as well as food trucks.

Meanwhile, Neville has lined up at least dozen shows, at both theaters and clubs, beyond his official Jazz Fest gig. On April 29, he’ll join Soulive’s Eric Krasno and Anders Osborne for the first day of the NOLA Crawfish Festival, which runs outdoors at a club called The Broadside for three days between the Jazz Fest weekends.

“It’s a different little thing,” Neville says. “There’s jambalaya and crawfish and it starts in the afternoon and goes into the night. You can come get some crawfish and listen to music and then go back out.”

On the middle Wednesday, he’s bouncing to three different shows and on Saturday May 4 that FiyaPowa gig with Mercurio and Moore starts at 2 a.m. (which technically makes it May 5, but in New Olreans no one is counting). Neville will also take part in “Rejuvenation 50: A Celebration of the Meters,” at the Civic Theatre on May 2 sharing the stage with George Porter among others. Along the way he’ll also be jamming with everyone from Government Mule to Chuck Leavell, the keyboardist for the Allman Brothers and the Rolling Stones, to soul and gospel legend Irma Thomas to the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

Neville’s schedule is so busy that in the middle of our conversation he starts reorganizing his set lists on his phone and later he loses track of which gig is where.

“But I know I’ll be playing somewhere that day,” he says with a laugh. “You can look it up.”

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American Airlines has multiple travel advisors up in arms after it announced plans to restrict AAdvantage Miles earnings for certain booking agencies.

The airline behemoth  announced  in February that flyers hoping to earn AAdvantage miles for their flights will have to do so directly through American, their airline partners, or preferred travel agencies recognized by the company.

The change will take effect on May 1, but American has yet to reveal which agencies will be included in its “preferred agencies.”

American Airlines announced in February that flyers hoping to earn AAdvantage miles for their flights will have to do so directly through American, their airline partners, or preferred travel agencies recognized by the company.

The change comes as part of the airline’s effort to minimize costs for agencies using older technology booking systems.

The airline has tried to convince agencies using the older booking systems to upgrade to newer platforms like the one American uses on its website.

While American  announced  a list would be shared in “late April,” agencies unsure if they’ll make the cut are expressing their distaste for the major change.

The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), Association of Canadian Travel Agencies and Advisors (ACTA), Foro Latinoamericano de Turismo (FOLATUR), and World Travel Agents Associations Alliance (WTAA) emphasized that any plans to restrict their clients’ earning miles could be detrimental to their agencies.

“It’s clear from the consensus among WTAAA, ACTA and FOLATUR, representing travel professionals around the world, the detriment that American’s decision will have on the travel industry globally,” President and CEO of ASTA, Zane Kerby, told  Travel and Tour World .

American has yet to reveal which agencies will be included in its “preferred agencies.”

Kerby called out American for “operating in bad faith” and was “looking to pad its bottom line at the expense of our valued clients and the millions of consumers who rely on their trusted travel advisor.”

Henry Harteveldt, president of the travel industry market research firm Atmosphere Research Group, told  Fodor’s Travel  the move is a “very inward-looking” perspective on American Airlines.

“It’s not a very consumer-friendly approach, and American is being a bit of a bully here,” Harteveldt explained — adding the move will put loyalty airline members in the crossfire of the company’s dispute with agencies.

The change comes as part of the airline's effort to minimize costs for agencies using older technology booking systems.

Harteveldt believes the move is also being monitored by the company’s competitors, who may adopt the change if it’s a success or whose sales teams may swoop in to poach any American flyers unpleased with the new method.

“As risky as American’s actions are, a lot of airlines are watching to see if it works out well for them, because if it does, I would not be surprised to see United and Delta copy it in certain ways,” he told the outlet.

While the airline is deadset on the change, Brett Snyder — author of the popular travel industry blog Crankyflier and CEO of the travel assistance service Cranky Concierge — said the move could cause “confusion” for the company’s flyers who already are trying to navigate their “frequent changes.”

American Airlines said they change is set to take effect May 1.

“The biggest impact will likely be on business travelers who may not have a choice of where to book depending upon company policy,” Snyder told the outlet.

“The fact that American still hasn’t told everyone who is or is not preferred adds more to the confusion.”

As the airline industry waits to hear who American will list as their “preferred agencies,” occasional travelers may also feel the weight of the change, Snyder explained.

He worries that some agencies may not disclose that to their customers during the booking process.

World Travel Agents Associations Alliance calls itself the global voice of the travel agency distribution channel.

Also, the move could affect cruise lines that book airfares as part of their packages, who may opt against using certain agencies not listed as one of American’s preferred agencies.

The changes will only affect travelers who collect AAdvantage Miles for their flights on American.

Flyers using corporate accounts with American will continue to earn miles for their flights no matter which booking channel they use unless they book a Basic Economy fare.

Travelers collecting miles from other Oneworld partners—the global airline alliance American is a member of with 13 other Airlines, such as British Airways, Qatar Airways, and Malaysia Airlines—will continue to earn miles for American Airlines flights regardless of booking channel.

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American Airlines announced in February that flyers hoping to earn AAdvantage miles for their flights will have to do so directly through American, their airline partners, or preferred travel agencies recognized by the company.


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