The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been the source of annoyance for many, and the butt of jokes for probably even more. Fortunately, despite the individual TSA workers who sometimes act as if their career goal is to make travelers miserable, from a corporate point of view, they actually seem to have a sense of humor.
Happy Saturday friends, and hooray, it’s finally the weekend! Here’s a recap of what we wrote on YMMV this week. From great travel deals to what we’ve written to what others wrote that we really liked and wanted to share, it’s all here, in one convenient place!
I purchased tickets to see Ed Sheeran in concert in Tampa, FL many months ago. However, it was only two weeks before the show that my concert buddy and I decided that it might be a good idea if we got a room for a night after the show. Driving to Tampa from Orlando takes about 90 minutes in the best circumstances, not taking into account post-concert traffic. We didn’t know what time the concert would end, but we knew it would be late.
Since we waited until the last minute, hotel rooms weren’t cheap. Raymond James Stadium in Tampa is located right off a local main road; great city planning there, Tampa. The nearest set of hotels are located about three miles away, across the street from the Tampa Airport. I looked at the available options and every hotel with rooms was charging over $250 a night. That was way too much for a single night stay where I just needed a bed for a few hours before driving home the next morning.
I decided to check if any of the hotels had rooms available for points and luckily I found one that did.
We’ve had access to TSA PreCheck lanes at the airport thru our Global Entry membership for over five years and it is one of the most wonderful things we’ve ever signed up for. It transforms the procedure of going through the security checkpoints from a cattle call to something closer to just a minor inconvenience. However we’ve noticed that while there never used to be any line at the PreCheck lanes, there now can be quite a wait just to get to the point to verify your ID. In Orlando, this is partially because of more people having PreCheck as well as people who don’t belong in the line (usually foreign tourists) waiting and then being told they’re in the wrong line and they have to go wait again in the standard line. At other airports, like LaGuardia in New York and O’Hare in Chicago, we’ve had to wait 10-15 minutes in the PreCheck line just because of the number of travelers and a limited number of check in lines available.
I’ve been going back and forth about enrolling in CLEAR. It’s a third party program that bypasses the normal check of your ID and Boarding Pass. You know, the part where you walk up to a TSA agent and hand them your ID and Boarding Pass and you awkwardly stand there while they look at the paper and look at you.
Disney’s Magical Express (DME) was founded in 2005 and is a private ground transportation and luggage service delivery for Walt Disney World Resort (WDW) operated by Mears Transportation Group. The service is complimentary and is only available to guests with reservations at one of the Walt Disney World Resort hotels.
It’s also, I think, one of the most ingenious ideas a Disney “think tank” person ever came up with. Prior to 2005, travelers arriving in Central FL had a choice of shuttle, taxi, car service or rental car to get to WDW – and when you factor in the cost, especially of that a shuttle or private car for multiple people in their party vs. the cost of a rental car, many opted for a rental car because it was about the same price and gave you more freedom to come and go as you pleased. But however they got to Disney back then, guests still had to pay for that transportation and, of course, transport their own luggage. DME, meanwhile, is a free service and they’re able to take your bags and deliver them to your room. Overall, DME has become a very popular mode of transportation to millions of people every year.
Of course, although it’s a free service to guests, DME obviously costs Disney a LOT of money – besides whoever/whatever they have to pay to do all that the logistical stuff, they also have to pay MCO a certain amount per person for allowing the service at the airport, Mears for transporting guests back and forth, and extra people to transport the bags to and from Disney’s resort hotels, as well. However offering a free service like that encourages people to not pay the expense of renting a car while in Central FL, which, in turn, quietly encourages them to not leave Disney property (beginning to charge for overnight parking in 2018 has been another way to encourage guests to not rent a car, as they now incur a fee to park it). Guests staying at Disney property means more money for Disney in terms of food, park tickets, souvenirs, etc. that might otherwise go to other theme parks, off-property restaurants and shopping areas, etc.
But what if a new mode of transportation was coming down the pike that could be cheaper for Disney than DME, and still encouraged guests to stay on property? Well, it could eventually be happening…