TRAVEL TIPS: Airlines, Airports, & Security – Oh My! – What I Have Learned from Taking 114 Flights in One Year

In counting, over the past 12 months, I have taken 62 flights.  That’s nothing, Amanda last year took 102 flights.  So, with all this air travel, I thought I’d do a quick post to offer air travel tips — at least from a guy’s perspective (i.e., no make-up, extra hand bags, and multiple sets of clothes/shoes to pack).

Booking the Cheapest Fares:  Booking at least 2 weeks from the date you need to fly, usually gives the best rates.  Sometimes, booking on a Tuesday will get a cheaper flight because normally the airlines change their rates on Wednesdays.  Try to stay more than 3 days, because usually staying only 1-2 days typically that’s business travel and those rates are higher.  Check multiple website:  Expedia, Travelocity, & Kayak.  Then, double-check against the airline’s website (sometimes airlines post lower rates than the aggregate websites like Expedia).  My favorite site is Kayak because you can setup an alert to notify you when the airfare drops.

Dealing with the Security Line:  Don’t expect warm, friendly customer service from the TSA agents!  I always greet the security person with a ‘Hello’ and they must just be the grumpiest people on Earth.  You are allowed one carry-on and one personal item on the plane.  To help speed up the process, have your boarding pass and id out and ready to present.  Once at the xray machine, take off your shoes/jackets/belt and place them in a bin.  Take out the quart-size plastic bag with your liquids (less than 3 oz) and put this in the bin with your stuff.  If you have a laptop, take it out and put it in a separate bin.  Wait until you push the bins and your bags into the machine, and then step through the xray machine or scanner machine.  Get your stuff, get dressed, and get going.  Sometimes, you have a choice of which xray line to go through…if so….don’t get in the line with parents & kids….look for the ‘business’ traveler because they will move quickly through.

Quick Story:  a lady in front of me had her baby in a car seat.  She placed the car seat on the xray belt with baby still inside, as she was getting her other bag on the table.  The TSA Agent yelled, “Ma’am, get YOUR BABY off the belt”.  — I really, really hope she intended to get the baby, and was just getting her bag situated?  But, who knows.

In the Airport:  Most airports are setup the same way, even in other countries.  Normally, all signs are in English (I’ve not been to Asia or the Middle East – yet, but I’m pretty sure they are too).  Keep alert and follow the signs, not necessarily the people, as they may be going different places (i.e., the bathroom, restaurants, etc) than where you want to go (ie., baggage claim).  If you get a little lost or turned around, find an airport worker for directions, and most will be nice enough to help.  Be aware that if you’re hungry or thirsty, the prices of food, drinks, and snacks are higher because you are a ‘captured’ audience, since you aren’t allowed to bring liquids through security.  TIP#1:  pack a candy bar or small snack bag in your carry-on.  Find your gate and wait for your plane.  TIP#2:  use the bathroom before boarding & when you land (you may be delayed sitting on the runway & you can’t get up OR you may get stuck in traffic when leaving the airport).

Dealing with Delays: I have found the greatest asset to have when flying is to have patience!!  Give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport, as you never know when you may get stuck in traffic.  If your flight is delayed, use your smartphone to look up information about your flight from the airline’s website (info can be slow sometimes sitting at the gate).  If you have a connecting flight, either lookup on your phone or see the ticket agent about trying to get on another flight or changing your flight.  Sometimes the flight can be delayed for hours, so either find a good magazine or book or listen to music.  My favorite thing to do is watch people…they are some interesting characters in this worlds.  Also, since I do a lot of travel, we purchased a membership to the United Club, which is a separate lounge area where you can relax in comfortable chairs, watch TV, do some work, and have a free drink.  Best investment ever…next to my Bose Noise Reduction headphones!!

LAST TIP:  If you do fly a lot or plan to, find a carrier that is a member of an alliance and always fly with those airlines to accumulate miles.  We fly United, which is a member of the Star Alliance.  Which means, we earn miles when we fly United, USAirways, Singapore Airline, etc.  If you accumulate enough miles, you gain privileges like boarding first, free flights, first class upgrades, etc.  It takes time and flights to accumulate, but it’s so worth it, if nothing else just to board before everyone else so you can find an overhead bin to put your bag.  Plus, we’ve flown so much that now we can choose when we want to fly first class or even take free flights to Europe.

So, these are just a few travel tips when flying.  I’ll plan to post more tips in the future, more about flying, hotels, rental cars, eating, etc.  If you have any tips or maybe questions about travel, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Happy Travels….

One Reply to “TRAVEL TIPS: Airlines, Airports, & Security – Oh My! – What I Have Learned from Taking 114 Flights in One Year”

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