Politics of Travel: The revelation, ETIAS, REAL ID, NEXUS, Your needs, Our needs

Welcome to the Revelation of the Quarterly Politics of Travel! In 2023, GBTA launched the monthly EU Advocacy newsletter. In February 2024, GBTA launched the U.S. Advocacy newsletter. I figure you all can only take so much advocacy and politics, so this newsletter will be published quarterly. As the monthly newsletters are like Dragnet, just the facts, the Politics of Travel is a little different, a little irreverent, look at what is happening in the business travel world and politics in Canda, Europe and in the U.S. with a flair of music and gifs.  

Editor note: This edition was written prior to the passage of the U.S. Government funding package on Saturday, March 23 and includes sections that are connected to its passage. Included in the package was a huge victory for GBTA. Since the 2014 Budget deal, a portion of the 9/11 Security Fee collected to fund the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was diverted to pay down the U.S. general deficit. The recent deal to fund the U.S. government ended this diversion. Now TSA will have additional funding to improve the airport screening process. Now the money collected from business travelers will be devoted to removing friction from traveling. GBTA has made this a key issue over the years, sending thousands of emails and using PAC contributions to congressional supporters. Supporting legislation, The Faster Act was one of the Key Asks for 3 Legislative Summits. Thank you for all of your efforts – We DID IT! 

WE DON’T NEED NO STINKING BADGES! You may not need a badge to travel to Europe, but if you are Canadian, American or any of these 60 countries you will need to have completed your ETIAS Travel Authorization before starting your trip to 30 European countries

The cost for ETIAS travel authorization is EUR 7, is a new entry requirement for the nationals of visa-exempt countries travelling to most European countries. Starting in 2025, it allows visa-exempt travelers to remain in the 30 European countries requiring ETIAS for up to 90 days within any 180-day period. It is valid for three years or until the passport used in the application expires, whichever comes first. 

Air, sea and coach carriers will be required to check that travelers possess a valid ETIAS travel authorization before boarding. 

Do not be taken in by scammers. Use this website once the program starts.  

U.S. REAL ID: I know you think I am foolin’ but after years of talk, REAL ID requirements for domestic U.S. travel are coming. Starting May 7, 2025, you need a REAL ID* to board domestic flights and access certain federal facilities. For our international travelers, a passport is REAL ID compliant.  

TSA is developing a REAL ID enforcement plan for TSA checkpoints that considers the potential for a high number of travelers with non-compliant IDs. ​ 

A phased approach would support TSA’s mission of providing security to the transportation infrastructure while facilitating the freedom of movement of people and commerce. ​ 

CANADIAN PRECLEARANCE FOR ROADS:Canada is piloting a project that would allow northbound land travelers to clear customs while still on U.S. soil. The project would establish a “designated preclearance area and perimeter” at the Cannon Corners, just 25 kilometers west of the much busier entry point linking St-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Que., and Champlain, N.Y. — a main thoroughfare between Montreal and New York City. 

The notice says the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) hopes to launch the two-year project later this year to determine whether similar setups could replace smaller, aging facilities on the Canadian side of the border.  

Side commentary: GBTA is supportive of this effort and has communicated to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Canadian officials. For travelers, this would result in a number of benefits, which includes reducing contact time with CBSA officers when arriving into Canada. Additionally, preclearance into Canada would enable more secure movement of people between smaller, regional airports where CBSA resources are scarcer. Preclearance operations not only lead to security and economic benefits, it sets up a system for sustainable growth to meet the increasing travel demand. 

NEXUS WAIT TIMES: At a recent symposium on Preclearance, it was noted the average vetting time for a NEXUS renewal was 14 days. It was also reported there were 23,000 open interview spots over the next 90 days. I’m not from Canada but i see a lot of things.

BUSINESS TRAVEL ISNT A PIGGY BANK TO BREAK: Past attendees (2022 and earlier) of the U.S. Legislative Summit know we have been pushing Congress to end the diversion of the 9/11 Security Fee to pay down the country’s deficit. As you know in 2014, Congress voted to funnel 60 cents from the $5.60 security fee to use for federal deficit reduction through 2027. More than $19 billion in total will be diverted by FY 2027 unless current law is changed. 

This subject recently came up in a House hearing on TSA, “Examining TSA’s Post-Modernization Efforts”.  

Most of the hearing focused on using TSA’s security fees for their intended purpose instead of redirecting it, as is currently the case. GBTA’s new best friend, Rep. Clay Higgins, (R-LA) raised that the diversion robs the agency of money it could use to modernize its screening technologies and for its frontline employees. 

“You should essentially be self-funding roughly half of your entire annual budget,” Higgins said Tuesday. “We stand together to try to take that entire security fee and return it to the agency that’s supposed to be using it.” 

Side note: The world of government relations doesn’t include many quick wins. Since the diversion started in 2015, GBTA and Legislative Summit attendees have been pounding Congressional offices with this message. Seeing members of Congress raise these issues in hearings and pushing back on the diversion shows WE are having an impact. Registration for the U.S. Legislative Summit is open

NOT FOR YOU BUT FOR ME: The flip side of the coin, Sen. Cruz (R-TX) has been championing an effort to provide security escort for political VIPs at airports. The language in question would allow lawmakers and other political VIPs that have had threats made against them, along with some staff and family, to be sped through airport security lines, along with expedited screening outside of public view. 

The Senator has said the language is necessary as threats against lawmakers and politicians continue to rise. 

If passed, Steve Lorincz, TSA’s deputy executive assistant administrator for security operations, told committee members in the same hearing that the proposal will create “significant cost burdens” for the agency and that the program would be a “mission change for TSA, in a recent House Homeland Security subcommittee on the agency’s modernization efforts,”. 

LEAVING ON A JETPLANE: As you read this, I, along with other GBTA staff and European Advisory Board members, will be in Brussels for meetings with stakeholders and EU Commission staff. Be on the lookout for the soon to be released GBTA Policy Priorities for the EU 2024-29 Agenda. 

YOUR NEEDS ARE OUR NEEDS: The GBTA Advocacy Team (Legislative Advisory Council and the regional Advisory Boards) are curious as to what issues are impacting how you do your job. We listen to members and pick up issues that we believe we can address with governments. This has resulted in our advocacy efforts on accessibility concerns, emissions accounting and many other issues. The U.S. Legislative Advisory Council created this simple Jot Form as a way to hear from a broader swath of the industry. Please look and let us know if there are issues you think we should be considering. It is anonymous, but feel free to leave your name and contact information if you wish us to contact you for further information. Plus, I was looking for an excuse to send you a Noah Kahan song and dial drunk just doesn’t convey the message I want 😊