It’s been a rough couple of weeks for many in the United States, particularly foreign visitors and green card holders. As a US citizen living abroad with a Mexican partner, the unpredictability of recent immigration policy changes (and the actions of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials) plus the repeated demonization of immigrants and Mexicans is scary. Here are some thoughts I have on things to be aware of and ways to keep yourself safe.
All Travelers Entering the United States from Abroad
ACLU Know Your Rights Guide. Screenshot from aclu.org
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has aKnow Your Rights guide about encountering law enforcement at airports and other US ports of entry. The short version is this: if you’re a US citizen, you have the right to not answer questions or to speak to an attorney, but doing so will likely mean you have a bad day. Green card and visa holders may be denied entry for refusing to answer questions or comply with the requests of agents, and often do not have the right to speak to an attorney unless arrested. I am not a lawyer, but my recommendation in most cases is to answer questions truthfully and succinctly, providing only the information requested without unnecessary detail. Continue reading →
Since my travel has started ramping up in 2017, I decided it was time to sit down and look at my strategy for earning airline elite status in the coming year. Which means…spreadsheet time!
A portion of my elite status planning spreadsheet
Where I am Today
I currently have Alaska Airlines MVP Gold, United Airlines Gold, and Virgin America Silver elite statuses. I’ve already credited a couple of trips to my Alaska Airlines account (two on American Airlines and one on Delta). Most of my confirmed flights later this year are on American Airlines or other OneWorld carriers. Continue reading →
I’m a bit late on this, but I wanted to let you know that we started a round-the-world trip earlier this week and will be sharing some updates along the way.
After spending the weekend with some friends in Austin, we took off for Madrid in business class on an American 787-9 – booked with Citi Thank You Points and upgraded with AA System Wide Upgrades. (Four other friends were on our same flight, but we left them behind in Premium Economy…and then they left us behind at the Madrid airport!)
AA business class on the 787 Dreamliner. Image from aa.com
If you or someone you know has a Mexican passport or resident card, they might be leaving money on the table when they purchase airline tickets to/from/through Mexico.
When you purchase a plane ticket to Mexico, the fare has a tourism tax built in – similar to US customs and immigration fees. This fee goes toward the cost of immigration processing and the arrival / departure card required for foreign visitors. The fee is 390 Mexican Pesos, which is roughly $20 USD.
Screenshot from ITA Matrix showing the Mexico tourism tax – exchange rate as of December 18, 2016.
Lobby of the Holiday Inn Express London Heathrow T5. Photo from ihg.com
Location: This hotel is located in Slough, a town just west of Heathrow Airport. It was a bit of a trek from our hotel in London – we had to take the Underground to Paddington Station, then paid £9.20 each to go one stop to Slough on a Great Western Railway train, then took a double decker bus about 20 minutes from the Slough railway station to this hotel. It’s located just off the M5 highway next to a water reservoir (not exactly an exciting location), and about 5 miles from the western edge of Heathrow airport.