Thursday, 11 April 2013
20 Air Travels Tips
Know the difference between direct and nonstop flights, and always opt for the latter.
Unlike nonstops, direct flights can touch down at other airports on the way to their ultimate destinations, explains Macon Dunnagan, a baggage handler with US Airways. And while stops are built in to the sum travel time, the potential delays they can cause arent. Whenever possible, soar nonstop, he says.
Make sure you buy your ticket under the exact name that appears on your ID.
It might seem obvious to you that Betsy is a nickname for Elizabeth, but it may not to a skycap, a desk agent, or a security officer any one of whom could ask you to show identification with that name before boarding, says Delta Air Lines public-relations representative Katie Connell.
Select your seats ASAP.
If you have a disability and need a premium seat in the bulkhead, say the agent when you make your reservation rather than at the airport, says David Martin, a Delta passenger-service specialist who creates the airlines policies for customers with disabilities. Other passengers might be able to nab those seats 24 hours before the flight, when theyre made available to everyone through the airlines website.
Get to your gateway city as early as you can.
Since delays stack up as the day progresses, its intellectual to book the first flight you can into a hub (if you have a connecting flight), says Dunnagan. Spending a few extra hours at the airport is better than missing your connection because your first flight was late.
Double-check foreign document requirements.
Some countries like Chile, Kenya, and India require a visa for entry; others, like South Africa, wont allow entrance unless a travelers passport contains at least two blank, unstamped pages. You need to be aware of those requirements before you create your flight reservations or you could profit stuck Stateside, according to a source at the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs. For a complete list of entrance regulations, visit www.travel.state.gov/travel.
Set your suitcase apart from the pack.
Tying a red ribbon to your black sack is not the most effective way to distinguish it. When passengers use ribbons and bows, they can be torn off in the transporting process, says Chris Gossner, a customer-service supervisor with US Airways for more than 20 years. Not to mention the fact that youll probably see dozens of other red ribbons circling on the baggage carousel. Your best move is to buy a suitcase in an unfamiliar color, such as shiny blue.
To save precious quart-sack space on overnight trips, Freida Burton, a US Airways flight attendant for almost 31 years, carries samples of cosmetics, moisturizers, and prescription creams, which she requests from her doctor. Go to walmart.triaddigital.com/free-samples.aspx or www.freesamplesblog.com for a variety of regularly updated freebie offers. Or take advantage of Sephoras and Kiehlss policies of giving three free samples with any online order at www.sephora.com and www.kiehls.com.
BYO blanket (and disinfecting wipes, too).
I despise to say it, but tray tables are rarely cleaned, so wipe them off before you use them, says Sarah Scott, a former US Airways flight attendant who worked for 19 years. And drive positive of the blankets and pillows. Theyre only washed when they see filthy.
Pack your electronics in a single layer.
You will increase your chances of speeding through security if you take the time to lay your electronics flat. When things are tossed in haphazardly or jumbled together, we spend more time determining what they are (from the X-ray) and have to manually check bags, says Sterling Payne, a spokesperson for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
Do your own sack check before you depart.
To withhold from getting stalled in security and losing innocent (but cunning) items you forgot were in your sack hello, nail scissors! carefully check each fragment of luggage at house first. If you think through the screening process as youre packing, youll be good, says Stephanie Carter Naar, a transportation security officer based in Washington, D.C.
At the Airport
Know your airports code.
Its easy for luggage-destination tags to gain mixed up at a curbside check-in. Learn the three-letter airport code for your destination and make definite your skycap labels the bag properly. The codes arent always intuitive (for example, New Orleanss Louis Armstrong Airport is MSY), so check the list at www.airport-technology.com, especially if the city youre going to has more than one airport. Cities with multiple airports can cause problems if passengers dont know which theyre flying into, says Tim Wagner, a spokesperson for American Airlines.
Ask about your options.
Many airport waits can be made more enjoyable by asking insiders for advice. Stuck with your children at Bostons Logan Airport? An airport employee can direct you to terminal C, where a baggage carouselstyle slide anchors a play place. Tired of the same old food-court choices? In the Austin, Texas, airport, make a beeline for Salt Lick it serves up some of the states best barbecue. You can even get through security faster by seeking out additional lines: Airports will often open another line during peak times, so it pays to ask, TSA spokesperson Sterling Payne says.
Exercise caution in duty-free shops.
Not all in duty-free is a bargain, says Janice Mosher, director of the Customer Service Center for U.S. Customs. If you really desire that bottle of Opium perfume, locate out what it costs in your local department store first. And consider the three-ounce rule when stocking on things like alcohol and olive oil. If you are transferring to another domestic flight after clearing customs in the United States, youll have to put your liquid duty-free purchases in a checked bag, Mosher says. And if you dont have room in your luggage, youll have to depart that big bottle of olive oil behind.
Spring for an afternoon in the lounge.
For a fee usually about $50 a day, which you can pay upon the spot you can take advantage of the drinks, snacks, uncrowded bathrooms, and comfy chairs at most airline club lounges, plus you can acquire help from the clubs dedicated ticket agents. Several times when its looked like I would be stuck somewhere for another day, a club agent has pulled a bunny out of his hat, says Bill Coffield, an attorney who flies between 50,000 and 100,000 miles a year.
Call for help.
If youve missed a connection, dont stand in line to rebook with a gate agent. Instead, use your cell phone to call the airlines customer-service number (tuck it in your wallet before leaving). You may speak to someone faster, giving you a better shot at a seat upon the next flight. Also, the people upon the phone are slightly less frazzled, because they dont have 10 crazy customers in their faces, says fashion designer Melody Rains, who flies about 70,000 miles a year, domestically and internationally.
Utilize cell-phone lots.
These free-parking areas, where drivers can wait for the Im here call for 30 minutes or longer, have sprung up at more than 50 airports in the last few years. The lots cut down upon congestion at the arrival areas. Now I can call my husband as soon as I begin walking down the concourse, and we meet just outside the door, says Sara Nelson, a United Airlines flight attendant for 12 years. (For a complete list of these lots, visit the Airports Council International website at www.aci-na.org.)
Get fed quick.
Its late. Youve just landed, and youre starving. To have dinner waiting in your hotel room when you arrive, call and order room service from the road. It can save a hungry half hour, says Barbara Talbott, an executive with Four Seasons Hotels in Toronto who flies about 20 times a year.
On the Plane
Bring a car seat for your child. Car seats arent just safer for kids, notes Veda Shook, a flight attendant who has been with Alaska Airlines for 16 years. They also help kids stay calmer, since theyre used to being in them. Shook suggests investing in a car chairstroller combination. The chair slides right out of the stroller part, which you can check at the gate, she says.
Corral your in-flight necessities.
Blocking the aisle during boarding while you dig for gum, a book, or a snack isnt just a drag for you; it can delay the entire plane. Dezirae Bridges, a Delta flight attendant for 11 years, suggests packing small must-haves in a resealable gallon-size bag that you can throw onto the chair while you put away anything else.
Stow your bag close your chair.
Its tempting to throw your suitcase into the first blank space you see, but that slows down deplaning, as passengers who had to stow their bags near the back move downstream to collect their belongings, says Beth Jones,* a US Airways flight attendant with 34 years below her (safety) belt. To avoid backtracking, board as early as you can and enlist the help of a flight attendant when storing bags.