The Traveler

Issue: March 2016

An informational bulletin on security, medical, and travel related issues






Regional Information

Africa - East Asia - Europe - Near East - South Asia - Western Hemisphere


Are Old Planes Dangerous?

An old clunker of a plane, staggering down the runway and groaning into the sky, sounds like the beginning of a white-knuckled flight. But is that what the data shows? Is it actually more dangerous to fly on an old plane? 

The short answer is: No. Well, the slightly less-short answer is: No, in most cases. 

Let's break it down:

No, old planes generally aren't more dangerous.
According to the data, older aircraft do not have significantly higher accident rates than newer aircraft. There have not been any fatal accidents involving major carriers that were linked directly to aircraft age in nearly two decades. Information collected in a detailed 2014 study by the MIT International Center for Air Transportation (ICAT) showed that for aircraft that are less than 20 years old, there is no correlation at all between the age of a plane and the accident rates. The same study found that for even older planes, those between 20 and 27 years of age, there is only a weak correlation between aircraft age and the number of accidents. Reaching even further back, for aircraft in North America and Europe that are less than 35 years old (far older than most aircraft currently flying), there is no correlation between aircraft age and accident rates. 

Why is this? 
Major carriers shower their older planes with attention, giving them the extra maintenance, inspections, and systems upgrades needed to keep them safe. The major carriers also stick with particular types of aircraft, meaning that the airlines' maintenance teams are deeply familiar with the specificities and foibles of each type of plane, and they know what has to be done to keep them safe. The process is expensive, but the major carriers can bear it. They see the investment as contributing to longer-term profits. The major carriers also have a culture of safety ingrained at the corporate level. This means  that the companies value their safety records and will drive through major fleet-wide updates to onboard technology, adding enhanced ground proximity warning systems (EGPWS) and new traffic collision avoidance systems (TCAS) to protect against multiple types of collisions.

So, when do older planes go down?
Planes almost always go down because of pilot error or improper maintenance, not age-related issues. Even in the few cases where structural failure occurred — such as the structural collapse of Aloha Airlines (AQ) Flight 243 in Hawaii in 1988 or the in-flight breakup of China Airlines (CI) Flight 611 in 2002 — the problems were largely due to major failings in the airlines' inspection programs and, in the instance of Flight CI 611, a faulty repair. 

Ok, that makes sense. But are there cases where older planes are less safe than newer ones?
We've been talking about flying on major airlines, particularly those in North America and Europe. But older aircraft in non-preferred airlines, which generally operate in Africa, Central Asia, and Southeast Asia, do have a higher accident rate for planes older than 20 years. The reasons for crashes vary, but the correlation is largely due to operational factors, not issues with aircraft age. Specifically, older aircraft tend to be much cheaper to buy than newer aircraft, and therefore often end up in the hands of smaller and less wealthy carriers. These carriers often lack the maintenance expertise required to keep older aircraft operating safely and the resources to keep their aircraft's avionics up-to-date. 

What does this mean for travelers?
Travelers don't need to worry about taking older planes operated by major airlines in North America and Europe. However, when traveling via small airlines elsewhere, it's best to check the airline's safety record, which can be found at If the airline doesn't seem like the best choice, it may be best to look for another, safer way of reaching the destination. 

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I Keep Hearing About This Zika Virus... 

It's been all over the news in recent months, but what is it? And what do travelers need to know in order to protect themselves? 

What is Zika virus?
The Zika virus is a disease transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. In rare cases, the virus has been transmitted through sexual contact with an infected person or contact with infected blood. In some cases women who have been infected during pregnancy have also spread the virus to their unborn children, but it is unclear how frequently this occurs. There is no vaccination or treatment currently available for the Zika virus.

Where did the disease originate?
Despite its recent appearance in the headlines, people have known about Zika virus for a while. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the disease was first identified in monkeys in 1947, and the first human cases were reported in 1952 in Uganda and Tanzania. Zika virus infections occurred primarily in Africa and Southeast Asia until 2007, when the disease broke out on the island of Yap in Micronesia. Before erupting in South America last year, the last major outbreaks outside of the known infection zones occurred on several South Pacific islands in 2013-2014.

The Americas Outbreak
In April 2015, a locally acquired case of Zika virus was reported in Brazil. In the months since, the virus has been identified in areas throughout the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. According to the latest report from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), 26 countries in the Americas have now reported cases of locally acquired Zika virus. Brazil has been the hardest hit, with officials estimating approximately 1.5 million cases. Travelers returning home after being bitten have spread the disease to new countries. Dozens of cases of travelers returning with Zika virus have been reported in the United States. Imported cases have also been identified in Asia, Canada, and Europe.

Health Problems Associated with Zika
Since the Zika outbreak began, Brazil has reported a drastic increase in the number of children born with microcephaly, a condition that causes a much smaller-than-normal head circumference and stunted brain development. Recent research has suggested a connection between women who contract the Zika virus during pregnancy and fetal microcephaly, though the connection hasn't been fully proven. Officials reported nearly 4,000 cases of microcephaly in 2015, compared to 150 reported cases in 2014. However, the data linking these cases to the Zika virus isn't conclusive. To date, only about 460 of the microcephaly cases have been confirmed, and no other countries in the Americas experiencing widespread Zika virus activity have yet observed similar increases in microcephaly. 

There have also been reports of people infected with Zika developing Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), a rare neurological disorder in which a person's immune system attacks nerve cells. GBS can cause long-term muscle weakness and paralysis. Many common infectious diseases—including Campylobacter and chickenpox—can lead to GBS, though researchers have yet to confirm an association between the Zika virus and GBS. Nevertheless, officials have observed increased rates of GBS in several Zika-affected countries, including Brazil, El Salvador, and Martinique. 

What are health officials doing?
At the beginning of February, the WHO declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) due to the potential link between Zika virus, microcephaly, and other neurological conditions. The PHEIC calls for international cooperation to address the public health concern because the Zika virus has spread and put multiple countries at risk. The PHEIC also provides international funds to assist disease prevention efforts and advance research into the disease and potential medical countermeasures.

Separately, some health authorities have issued recommendations that pregnant women, or those who are trying to become pregnant, postpone travel to locations affected by Zika virus. Because of the potential for sexual transmission, the CDC also recommends that men who have traveled to Zika-affected areas and who have pregnant partners either use condoms or abstain from sex for the duration of the pregnancy.

How do you know if you have it?
Symptoms of Zika virus generally include fever, rash, reddening of the eyes (conjunctivitis), and temporary pain or swelling of joints. Symptoms usually last between two and seven days. According to the CDC, 80 percent of people with Zika virus likely go undiagnosed because they don't experience symptoms or have symptoms so mild they never know they had the virus. Doctors are developing a test for Zika, which is expected to become available in March or April. 

How to keep mosquitoes from ruining your trip
The Aedes mosquitoes spreading the Zika virus—identifiable by their black and white striped bodies—also spread other diseases, such as chikungunya and dengue fever. Travelers can take a number of precautions to avoid mosquito bites. These include: 
Reducing skin exposure when possible by wearing long-sleeved shirts, pants, socks, and hats
Using mosquito repellent containing active ingredients such as DEET or picaridin
Applying repellent to skin and clothing every few hours
Choosing a hotel or accommodation that has air conditioning or window and door screens
Using mosquito nets
Staying away from areas with stagnant water
Emptying containers of standing water to reduce the number of mosquito breeding locations

Zika Virus and the Brazil Olympics
The upcoming Olympics would seem like the perfect opportunity for millions of travelers to be exposed to the virus. However, mosquito-borne diseases in Brazil are most prevalent from January-July, and Brazil's dry and relatively cool weather conditions in August will likely decrease the threat of exposure. Travelers have expressed growing concerns about visiting countries with Zika virus cases, but the WHO has not issued any travel restrictions. The Olympics organizing committee said there are no plans to relocate or cancel the games.

What are they doing to keep the Olympics Zika-free?
Ahead of the Olympics, organizers are conducting regular checks of event locations to make sure conditions are unfavorable for mosquitoes. However, due to concerns for the athletes' health, organizers have so far decided not to fumigate the facilities daily, as the chemicals used in fumigation could cause the athletes to get sick and keep them from their Olympic preparations. Many athletes have voiced their concerns about traveling to Brazil because of Zika, and some have even decided not to attend. However, Zika's prevalence in Brazil may decrease as weather conditions change.

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25 Healthy-Eating Travel Hacks That Will Change Your Life

It's not always easy eating healthy when you're traveling. But these 25 easy tricks, tips, and hacks will help you eat better and healthier no matter where your journey takes you.

Choose wisely from the free hotel breakfasts. 
Staying at a hotel that offers a free breakfast? Usually they're packed with pastries, bagels, and sugar-covered cereal, all of which you want to avoid. Instead go for fresh fruit (there's usually at least a banana or an apple), eggs, plain greek yogurt (fruit-flavored has tons of sugar), or whole grain cereal.

Use the coffee maker to cook instant oatmeal.
It is the most important meal of the day, after all. So if you don't want to leave it to chance, try this handy trick: Pack some instant oatmeal packets and use the coffee maker in the room to heat water to prepare it. You can also bring nuts and dried fruit to mix in.

Ask for a mini-fridge and make your own breakfast.
Most hotels will accommodate. Then you can buy some fresh fruit, nuts, and something like Greek yogurt and plan to eat breakfast in your room so you know you have one good healthy meal under your belt for the day.

Put plastic wrap on the stems of your bananas.
Want to leave a stash of bananas in your hotel room to eat for breakfast or take as a snack? Carefully break them apart and wrap the individual stems of each banana in plastic wrap. It can help them last up to five days longer. (It hinders the release of ethylene gas from the stem, which is what promotes ripening and creates the brown color). 

Buy a shaker bottle for shakes on the go.
A protein shake can be a great choice for breakfast on the go. And you don't need a blender. Just add a packet of powdered shake and some almond milk or even water to your shaker bottle, close it up tight and shake. Another trick? Add some powdered peanut butter which is made to be mixed with water or added to smoothies directly. It gives great flavor but only has 45 calories (a regular serving of peanut butter has more like 200).  

BYOP—bring your own protein—in the form of jerky.
Take a cue from gas station staple Slim Jims and pack beef, turkey, or salmon jerky—just make sure to pick a nitrate and chemical-free brand. Eating protein is one of the best things you can do to lose weight and stay fit, and jerky is so travel friendly.

BYOG—bring your own greens, in the form of real veggie snacks.
You don't exactly think of veggies as road food, but they can be. Throw a few bags of things like seaweed chips, Trader Joe's Crispy Crunchy Broccoli Florets (lightly fried but still low-fat), or Snapea Crips into your carry-on. Eat them with a couple of pieces of beef jerky and it's the perfect on-the-go snack.

Know which bars are the healthiest.
There's nothing quite as convenient as a protein or nut and fruit bar for fast snacking, but they are not all created equal. Many are packed with chemical and/or sugar you just don't need. Three you can feel good about eating are Quest Bars, Kind bars (the varieties without added sugar), and Larabars. (It's a good idea to eat the largely fruit-based Larabars with a few nuts to get some protein.)

Carry flavored stevia for your coffee.
The chemical-laden sweeteners popular in the U.S. are not good for you, and because of that, if you travel abroad you may be hard pressed to find anything but sugar in certain countries. Instead, try travel-sized bottles of flavored stevia (an all-natural plant extract) and some low or non-fat powered milk. They can turn bad road coffee into a vanilla latte-inspired treat. 

Use coconut oil packets in place of butter.
Not only is coconut oil (which is solid when cool) a healthy alternative to butter on your toast (studies show the oil helps promotes weight loss), but you can also use it as a handy-dandy, delicious-smelling moisturizer, too. Who doesn't love a multi-use product when traveling? Just makes sure you buy a brand that is safe to eat and that comes in individual packets for easy transport. 

Always start with a salad, dressing on the side.
Even if all you do differently is start with a salad (very lightly dressed with something healthy like a little olive oil and vinegar), it will help fill you up, so you'll eat less of other things that might not be as good for you. One caveat: If you're traveling in a foreign country where the water isn't fit to drink, skip salad and veggies like lettuce or tomato where you eat the skin. Cooked veggies and peeled veggies are safer.

Order vegetarian — then add meat, poultry, or fish.
When trying to eat healthy, you want to load up on as many veggies as you can. An easy trick to do that when you're eating out a lot on the road is to order a vegetarian dish and ask them to add a protein, like chicken. Or if you're eating something like Chinese, ask for double broccoli or order a side of steamed broccoli and mix it into your dish. Broccoli takes up a lot of space leaving less room in your belly for the unhealthy stuff.

Order an appetizer for dinner or split a main.
Appetizers are usually closer to recommended serving sizes and main courses are usually enough food for two, especially in the U.S. So even if you eat something not totally healthy, you'll eat less. Plus, it can save you money. Throw in a side salad or a broth-based soup if you think you'll still be hungry.

Eat the protein first.
Protein fills you up and satiates you, which can help you eat less. So start with your meat, chicken, or fish, then eat your veggies, then if you're still actually hungry, move on to complex carbs. It's good way to cut back on starchy foods like potatoes or bread. 

Blot the oil off pizza.
Pizza can be an easy and not completely unhealthy choice on the road (especially if you top it with veggies). Just blot the excess oil off your slice. It can save up to 50 calories, according to 

Use your hand as a guide for portion sizes.
If you're trying to watch your portion sizes (which is key to losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight), you can use your hands as a guide: Two cupped hands equal 1 ounce (of dry snacks like pretzels or crackers); one cupped hand holds a half cup (of foods like rice or ice cream); a fist is the size of one cup (of chopped veggies, berries or cereal, for example); from the middle joint to the top of your thumb is equivalent to one teaspoon (for things like salad dressing, peanut butter, and mayo); from the bottom joint to the top of your thumb estimates 1 to 2 tablespoons; the palm is about the size of 3 to 4 ounces (of meat, fish, or poultry).

Pack food in plastic baggies if you're flying.
Just no aluminum foil if you're flying. It could set off scanner when going through security and then they will likely want to search your bag and you'll have to unwrap your food.

Use TSA-friendly-sized spreads.
If you bring spreads like hummus or natural peanut butter, make sure they're 3 to 4 ounces or less.
Bring an empty water bottle.
It will make it through security and then you can fill up at a water fountain in the airport. Just don't fill it up on the plane unless you can see that the water is coming from other bottled water. Tap water on planes (whether from the bathroom or the galley) is a no no. 

Use food math to compare picks at the convenience store.
Which bar is better? Which snack makes more sense? Basically, when trying to find the best product to buy and eat in a pinch, you can calculate which one has the best balance of protein and "effective carbs." You do this by looking at the carbs, fiber, and protein. Here's the formula: Take the total grams of carbs and subtract the grams of fiber and protein. The resulting number is the "effective carbs," which you'd ideally like to keep below 10.

Customize pre-packaged trail mix.
Trail mix can be an easy snack to buy on the road, but when it comes to eating healthy, there's usually too much dried fruit and/or chocolate (which means lots of sugar). You can tweak the ratio by buying a bag of trail mix and also a bag of nuts. Add the nuts to the trail mix to correct the protein and good fat to sugar ratio.

Choose dark chocolate over milk chocolate.
Though neither one is great in large quantities, the dark chocolate choice will most likely have a bit less sugar. Make it even better by choosing one with nuts for some added protein.

Use technology to help you find healthy places to eat, wherever you are.
Three to try: Food Trippin "locates the closest eateries, juice joints, farmers' markets, microbreweries, and more," according to iTunes. Eat Out Well provides nutrition information for menu item in restaurants around your location. Can I Eat This? is from the Center for Disease Control and helps prevent travelers' diarrhea based on where you are and what you're thinking about eating or drinking.
Learn some moves you can do anywhere, not equipment required.
There are actually tons of exercises you can do in your hotel room or even in the park or on the beach. The most you might need is towel on the floor or table, bench, or window sill for balance. Think: planks, lunges, squats, and push-ups for strength-building and jumping jacks and burpees for cardio.
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From the Assist America Case Files

Assist America's services attached to an association membership


70-year-old male traveling on leisure with his spouse fractured his leg in a scooter accident

Provider Evaluation
Medical Monitoring
Medical Repatriation
Non-Medical Escort
Wheelchair assistance at airports
Car service arrangements to and from airports

Assist America's Princeton Operations Center received a call from a member's spouse who stated that her husband had been injured in a scooter accident while traveling in Italy. He had been brought to a local hospital where it was determined that he had fractured his leg. Assist America's coordinators contacted the local facility to begin monitoring his care. It was determined, after careful evaluation by an Assist America Medical Director that the hospital was an excellent facility and when it was decided that the member needed surgery,  Assist America's coordinators stayed in contact with the treating medical team throughout the process. Once the member was stable enough to return home, Assist America arranged and paid for him to travel via commercial carrier with a seat in Business Class so that his leg could remain elevated.  Assist America also provided a non medical escort to ensure he traveled safely and comfortably as well as wheelchair assistance and car service at both the departing and receiving airports. Once he was home, Assist America followed up with the member a few days later to see how he was doing and he was recuperating nicely.

Member comments:

"The daily contact, sometimes more than once a day, exceeded our expectations."

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Keep Your Home Safe While You're on Vacation: 9 Essential Tips

Murphy's Law for travelers: if anything can go wrong, it will go wrong while you're on vacation—which is arguably the worst time a household calamity can strike. Coming home from your honeymoon, African safari or Mediterranean cruise can be gloomy. But returning from a memorable journey and learning something has gone seriously wrong at home can be downright devastating.

To make matters worse, a house or apartment left empty while its owners are traveling is a tempting target for criminals. We don't want to scare you—or leave you fearing for your treasured belongings while basking on a Caribbean beach. But it's imperative that every traveler take certain key steps to keep his or her home safe and sound while seeing the world. Basic preventative measures (which take only minutes to complete) can work wonders to help you avoid power surges, broken pipes, home invasions and more.

1. Ask a Friend to Help
A simple, albeit crucial, way to gain peace of mind while traveling is to ask a friend or neighbor to keep an eye on your house while you're away. Ask him or her to drive by your home once every day or so and check on the place. Give this person a key so that he or she can bring your mail in, feed your cat, water your plants, rake your leaves, etc. If you don't use a garage, you may also want to give this person a key to your car—you never know when your vehicle may need to be moved. He or she should also have your contact information and a copy of your itinerary in case of emergencies.

Do you have more than one person visiting your house while you're away? If so, tell them about each other! If the neighbor you asked to keep an eye on your abode calls the police on your elderly cat sitter, don't say we didn't warn you.

You may want to consider using, a subscription service that allows anyone who notices anything amiss about your home to notify you, even if you haven't asked them to keep an eye on things. The neighbor contacts the service, which then reaches out to you via phone, text or email. A subscription costs $50 a year.

2. Don't Tip Off Criminals on the Web
In a world where it seems everyone is blabbing about their business on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, it's important to stop and think: who exactly is reading this stuff? The anonymity of the internet can encourage us to share personal information without fully realizing that there may be hundreds of complete strangers receiving our daily musings. Would you announce to a crowd that you will be leaving your house unattended for two weeks this December? If not, then you should think twice about posting your detailed vacation plans on Twitter or Facebook, especially if that information is visible to internet users other than your friends and family (and it probably is).

Be careful what you say on your answering machine or voice mail too. Callers don't need to know that you're not home, they just need to know that you can't come to the phone right now.

3. Do Tip Off the Police
Consider notifying the police if you're going on vacation. No need to let the cops know about a weekend getaway, but do call them if you're leaving town for longer than a week. It's possible the police may go out of their way to drive by your house while on patrol, especially if you live in a small town. If you have a security alarm, leave a house key and the code with someone you trust, and provide the police and alarm company with their name and phone number. You may also want to contact your local neighborhood watch program if there's one in your area.

4. Curtains—Open or Closed?
Before you leave for vacation, you may decide to close your curtains to prevent people from peering inside your home to see whether you're there. However, closed curtains also stop those who aim to help— the police, your neighbors or friends—from seeing inside your house. So what's your best bet? Leave your curtains exactly as you usually keep them when you're home, since noticeable changes could hint that you're not around anymore—especially if your curtains are uncharacteristically left closed for two weeks. Move expensive items, like jewelry or computers, out of plain sight if they're visible from the window.

5. The Lights Are on But No One's Home
Don't leave your lights on at home throughout your entire vacation in an effort to make it look like someone is in the house. Your electric bill will end up more costly than your mortgage, and, of course, leaving the lights on is not exactly "green" behavior. Plus, house lights blazing throughout the night might look a bit odd.

Instead, purchase a light switch timer that can turn your lights on and off automatically according to a programmed schedule. Criminals keeping an eye on your house will notice lights flipping on and off, and will probably assume someone is doing the flipping. offers a comprehensive list of light switch timers available online at a variety of price points.

6. Stop Your Mail
Either place a "stop" order on mail and newspapers or arrange to have a friend or neighbor pick up your mail while you're away. Otherwise, a week's worth of papers piled on your front step could signal to criminals that this particular homeowner is out of town. It's easy to put your mail on hold at

7. Put That in Your Pipe
If you live in a cold region of the world and your pipes are in danger of freezing during winter, you have another compelling reason to leave a house key with a friend while you're traveling. Ask your friend to stop by and check your faucets. If he or she turns on a faucet and only a few drops of water come out, your pipes may be frozen.

Take other precautions like making sure your pipes are properly insulated or keeping your heat on while you're away. Show your key-bearing companion the location of the water main shut-off in case a pipe breaks.

8. Pull the Plug
Unplug your television, computer, toaster oven and other appliances to protect them from power surges. Do this to save power as well. According to the Consumer Energy Center, many appliances use power even when they're turned off.

9. Remove Your Spare Key
That plastic rock isn't fooling anyone. If a criminal figures out you're away on vacation, it's likely that he or she will check your porch for a spare key. So reach under the mat, into the mailbox, above the door frame or into the flower pot and remove your spare key before you leave on your vacation.

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Seven Ways to Score Airport Lounge Access

When you're waiting out a long airport layover, nothing seems more enticing than the airport lounge. With amenities such as free Wi-Fi, drinks, snacks and glossy magazines that you've never seen before (and may never see again), the lounges feel like the answer to most of your air travel annoyances; at the very least, they can give you sanctuary from concourse noise and hubbub.

Entrance to most lounges comes gratis with a first- or business-class ticket. But for those stuck in the back of the plane, there are ways to gain access to these comfy inner sanctums without shelling out thousands of dollars for an upgrade. And when you're the one sinking into the cushy armchair instead of clamoring for a seat at the gate, you'll be glad to have a respite from the usual air travel annoyances.

Following are a few ways that savvy travelers can score lounge access, even if their tickets read coach.

1. Buy a day pass.
Several airlines sell day passes to their lounges, allowing you to relax in comfort without any long-term commitment. At Alaska Airlines, you can buy a one-day pass for the airline's Board Room lounges for $45. American charges $50 for lounge access, while United and Delta charge $59.
Keep in mind that most of these airline passes are limited to U.S. domestic lounges. If you're traveling internationally, you might want to check out, which sells day passes to hundreds of lounges worldwide, including several at London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports. While passes start at about $19.50, most of the lounges restrict the amount of time you can spend there to three hours, and some only offer them to passengers flying within that country. Check before you buy.

Best for: Casual travelers.

2. Invest in a lounge membership.
It used to be that all business travelers worth their salt carried a lounge membership card with their preferred airline, often bought on the company dime. Those perks are mostly gone now, with road warriors finding more flexible ways to get access (see elite status and credit cards below).
If you fly one airline exclusively, however, an airline membership is still something to consider. Airline club memberships also give you access into alliance clubs, such as the Star Alliance or Oneworld, which will help if you're traveling internationally.

If you go this route, expect to pay $400 to $550 for an annual membership. Before you buy, you'll also want to check to make sure that the destinations you visit the most actually have lounges; as a rule, you only find clubs in the world's busier airports.

Best for: Frequent travelers who know they'll be relying on one airline or alliance.

3. Try a third-party vendor.
If you have a hard time booking flights on only one airline, a lounge membership through a third party might make more sense. offers access to more than 850 lounges worldwide for an annual fee.

What's nice about Priority Pass is that you can choose from several membership levels. For $399 a year, you get free unlimited access to all of the clubs in the network. If you don't travel that often, you can pay $249 for 10 free visits, with additional visits costing $27. Or you can simply buy a $99 membership and then pay $27 each time you go.

Another nice thing about Priority Pass is that it includes many of the airlines' own lounges, such as Air France lounges at JFK, O'Hare and San Francisco. The pass doesn't guarantee that you'll get into all of the airlines' lounges, however, so you'll have to check (Priority Pass does have a smartphone app which makes it a little easier to find your lounge when you're on the go).

Best for: Frequent air travelers who take different airlines.

4. Visit a public pay-in lounge.
Who needs to worry about those airline-owned clubs? In some airports, public lounges—where you pay a fee for comfortable chairs, snacks, Wi-Fi access, small meals and non-alcoholic beverages—are giving the legacy lounges a run for their money.

At Baltimore/Washington International Airport, for example, you can enter the Airspace Lounge (see after security in Concourse D and pay from $20 per day. (Airspace also has lounges at the New York-JFK, Cleveland and San Diego airports.) At Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, you can buy a 24-hour day pass to The Club ( There are shower facilities, free Wi-Fi and more. Best of all for those who have favorite vendors at the airport, you can bring in food purchased outside the lounge. One drawback: It closes at 7:30 p.m. (The Club also has lounges at a half a dozen other U.S. airports.)

International travelers may want to check out Plaza Premium (, which offers buffet meals, drinks and—crucial for those making long-haul flights—showers in many lounges. Some even have massage and spa services for an extra fee. Current locations include various airports in Canada, China, Australia, Malaysia, India and more. Rates vary by location.

Best for: Travelers who want more flexibility than airline lounges provide.

5. Attain elite status.
Loyalty does have its privileges. Most airlines offer lounge perks for customers who make elite status, with benefits that extend throughout the network.

Make Elite 50K status on Air Canada or Premier Gold status on United, for example, and you'll gain access to most of the Star Alliance lounges around the world (there are limitations, however, as some lounges restrict Gold access to passengers flying internationally). The SkyTeam alliance, made up of Delta, Air France, KLM and other airlines, has similar perks for Gold, Platinum and Diamond members, as does the Oneworld alliance spearheaded by American Airlines.

Best for: Frequent travelers who fly exclusively on one airline.

6. Use your credit card.
Getting a credit card that offers airport lounge privileges is perhaps one of the easiest ways to ensure that you'll never be stuck on the concourse again, although some of these cards carry hefty annual fees.

Take the American Express Platinum Card. For a $450 annual fee, the card gives you $27 per visit access to hundreds of lounges around the world through Priority Pass Select. The card also provides free entry into Delta Sky Clubs, waives foreign transaction charges and gives you $200 in credits toward airline fees, such as those imposed for checked bags.

Airline credit cards can come with lounge perks too. The United MileagePlus Explorer card gives you two one-time-use passes to United Clubs, along with other travel extras, for $95 a year.

Caveat: Before you apply for any credit card, read the fine print and make sure that your spending and traveling habits make getting a card worthwhile.

Best for: Big spenders who don't mind paying annual fees for perks, as well as occasional fliers willing to pay a smaller annual fee for a limited number of day passes.

7. Be a guest (or buy your way in).
And finally, there's always the kindness of strangers. Some people on travel forums such as say they've gained lounge access by simply standing outside the door and asking people going inside if they can bring them in as a guest. And FlyerTalk itself has a Coupon Connection section where frequent posters are able to swap or sell lounge passes (you need to
have a certain number of posts on the site to join). Other places to check for guest passes are and

Best for: People who don't mind asking strangers for favors.

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Regional Information

For the latest, up-to-date information regarding key regions, click on the links below:



East Asia




Near East


South Asia


Western Hemisphere

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The content of this edition of AssistAlert is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace further investigation or personal observations. If you are planning travel, or are traveling in or proximate to the locations identified in this newsletter, you are encouraged to contact SecurAssist for additional information.

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