Posts Tagged ‘Travel Tips’

Travel Tips Everyone Should Read

June 22, 2010

We’re big fans of the ThoughtLEADERS, LLC blog. We were so geeked out by the below post on travel tips for non-road warriors that we had to share.

If you’re an “every-once-in-a-while” air traveler, take these words to heart.

If you’re a frequent flier, I KNOW you’ll get a kick out of it 🙂

Critical Tips Every Traveler Must Know

Most days I work from home but lately I have a lot of travel coming up. A *lot* of travel. And outside of airline delays (and terrorists), there’s nothing worse than dealing with a clueless traveler.

These are the people who cause massive delays in lines. They’re the ones who make the flight miserable. They’re the ones you want to introduce to your alter-ego Mr. Stabby McStabStab. And most horrifyingly, they’re sometimes YOU (but no one has ever told you).

So in the spirit of making the skies a little friendlier, I’m going to offer some simple, tactical tips on how to be a better traveler and reduce your risk of someone tipping TSA off that you need a cavity search because you were muttering something about “bomb in my pants.”

Feel free to pass this along to all the traveling rookies in your company. They were college kids a few weeks ago and they don’t know any better yet. Let’s see if together we can’t lick this travel stupidity epidemic.

Here’s everything you ever needed to know about traveling like a pro:

Packing: If you have to sit on the bag, you have too much crap in it. Leave something home. You’re coming back and wherever you’re going I’ll bet they have stores there. When you overpack your “carry-on” you decrease the chance it will actually fit in the overhead (see below points on use of the overhead).

Arrival at the airport: Get there EARLY. I’ve begun saying “no” to the people who ask to cut in front of me in the security line because their flight is leaving soon. Wake up earlier. I did. You can too. Now, if you’re late because of a car accident or because your connection arrived late, that’s cool. If you’re late because you can’t plan, I have no sympathy. News flash: airports are more crowded and security is slower. Arrive earlier. Have a drink at the gate or something. Unless you can prove to me that a stampede of mastodons attacked your car en route to the airport, you’re not cutting me in line.

Security (part 1): When you get in line GET YOUR ID AND BOARDING PASS OUT. It’s not a shock that TSA will ask for it. When you get up to the TSA agent after standing in line for 20 minutes then you take 2 minutes rooting through your bags/wallet for your ID, it makes my head explode (and more importantly slows up the line). Doing this is the equivalent of standing in line at McDonald’s for 20 minutes then when it’s your turn you begin reading the menu to figure out what you want. Be prepared with your papers please.

Security (part 2): THEY’RE METAL DETECTORS PEOPLE! Please don’t be the guy who goes through, sets it off, then remembers he has 863 keys and a steel ingot in his pocket. Empty your pockets. This shouldn’t be a surprise. This guidance also applies to all your gallons of toiletries. The guidelines are simple. Follow them. Otherwise we get to sit there patiently thinking of various ways to disembowel you while you go through the metal detector 6 or 7 times.

Security (part 3): Once you’ve successfully navigated the x-ray and metal detector, it is not time to repack all your things perfectly nor should you be primping your clothes to look just so WHILE YOU’RE STILL IN LINE AT THE X-RAY CONVEYOR BELT. Grab your junk, move along, and commence repacking operations in the always-empty Jamba Juice lounge on the other side of security. While you’re repacking, stuff is piling up on the x-ray belt and we’re all waiting for you to get out of the way.

Boarding (part 1): Zone 4 means Zone 4, not “Zone 1 because no one can see the Zone 4 on your boarding pass.” Board when called. Simple concept. Even Southwest figured out they had to give us cattle numbers to maintain some semblance of order upon boarding. It’s like grade school folks – no cuts. No backsies, no erasies, stamped it to infinity plus one.

Boarding (part 2): If the overhead is closed IT’S FULL. DON’T open it to see if you can fit your oversized bag in it. You’re slowing things down. If it doesn’t fit you must check it (said in my best Johnnie Cochran voice). Also, put it in the overhead over YOUR seat. None of this “chuck it in the first overhead I see then saunter back to my seat in row 735” stuff. If you’re in the back, bring your bag with you. They have overheads back there too. When you put it in the overheads in the front row, you cause a chaotic mash of bag shuffling, gate checking, and general orneriness.

Boarding (part 3): SIT DOWN. If you’re having trouble handling your grande iced no foam double whip half cream half milk double pretentiousness triple snotty latte, your 6 magazines, your iPad, and your iPod maybe you need to rethink your whole carry-on strategy. Sit down. Please. Let everyone else board so we can get where we need to go. Related: 1 carry-on and 1 personal item mean just that. It doesn’t mean 1 oversized bag + 1 purse + 1 fanny pack + 1 souvenir too big to ship + 1 laptop case. I’ve stopped blaming the airlines for our late departures and now lay the blame where it belongs – on the people who can’t get seated so we can take off.

In flight:  If you strike up a conversation, bully for you. If you are instead greeted with monosyllabic replies and furtive attempts by your conversation partner to extricate their attention back into their book, take the hint. They don’t want to talk to you. And if you do find a chat partner, please keep it below 974 decibels. Some of us are trying to sleep on this 6 hour flight. Also, if you insist on bringing your own food aboard, please rethink the tuna sandwich with garlic, onions, and a side of prune juice. Please.

Baggage claim: Grab it and get out of the way. No prolonged inspections. No repacking in the baggage claim area. Grab it and leave. ’nuff said.

Car rental: Betcha $50 they’re gonna ask to see your license. If you’re the person who was in front of me this morning who had to get out of the car, open the trunk, rummage through luggage to find his wallet in order to present his license, you really need to reevaluate your cognitive skills. Please be ready with license in hand.

Look, I know it’s about the journey and not the destination but I’m sure the author of that quote wasn’t referring to air travel. I’d actually like to enjoy the journey as I’m sure you would too. If we all simply think a little more about what’s coming next in the airport, the world will be a better place and the journeys that much more enjoyable.

Mike Figliuolo at thoughtLEADERS, LLC

The Flight Before Christmas

December 22, 2009

The New York Times Practical Traveler recently posted an excellent guide to traveling during the holidays. You can read it in it’s entirety here, or you can check out the highlights below:

1. Map out Plan B. Figure out your next best flight options in case your plane is delayed or canceled. A simple online search at sites like Kayak.com or ITASoftware.com will give you a quick snapshot of available flights. That way you can suggest alternatives that you prefer rather than end up at the mercy of frazzled booking agents. Also, for $4.99 a month, OAG Flights2Go offers flight schedules and flight status information on your mobile phone.

2. Load up your cellphone with emergency numbers. In addition to the airline reservation line, include the number for the frequent flier representative if you are a member. Those booking agents tend to have more experience in looking for creative itineraries and may be helpful in finding an alternative flight. If you booked through a third-party travel site like Expedia or Travelocity, add its customer service line to your roster; it may be able to advocate on your behalf.

3. To make sure you’re not left out in the cold — or on the airport floor — when that snowstorm grounds all flights, add the numbers of some major hotel chains, like Starwood or Marriott, with airport locations. If you are an iPhone user, there are several free apps that offer nearby real-time hotel listings with available rooms, including HotelPal, Hotels.com and Kayak.com.

4. Set up a flight alert for yourself and anyone who may need to know your whereabouts, like the aunt who offered to pick you up at the airport. These services, offered by most airlines and Web sites like Flightstats.com, let travelers know if a gate or flight time has changed via e-mail or text message. Orbitz.com allows customers to alert up to six people at a time. Knowing about such changes early can give you an edge over the 100-plus other passengers on your plane if there is a cancellation and you need to alter your plans.

Another tip: iPhone users can download the FlightTrack or Flight Status app, which offer the status of thousands of flights, as well as arrival gates and baggage carousels, for a one-time $4.99 fee from Apple’s iTunes App Store.

5. Pack smart. Leave the shower gel or anything else you can pick up at your destination. Have gifts shipped ahead so you don’t have to lug them with you. Edit your wardrobe: do you really need three sets of heels for dinner at Grandma’s or will one pair do? A carry-on will also allow you to avoid the scrum at baggage claim and easily move between flights if your itinerary is wrecked by delays.

If you must check luggage, you can save $5 at most airlines by prepaying online. (Many airlines now charge $15 to $25 for the first checked bag and $25 to $35 for the second on domestic flights.) United passengers can also pay a $249 annual fee to check up to two bags on each flight, and avoid paying the usual fees.

6. Know your rights. This is critical during busy travel periods when flights are often overbooked and confusion reigns. Travelers can receive up to $400 if they are involuntarily bumped and rebooked on another flight within two hours after their original domestic flight time and within four hours for international flights. They are eligible for up to $800 in cash if they are not rerouted by then.

Complaints about airline service other than safety or security issues may be registered with the Department of Transportation’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division .

7. Check in ahead of time online. This may be common sense, but it’s important to arrive at the airport with boarding pass in hand because the last travelers to check in are often the first to be bumped when a flight is oversold. Most airlines allow travelers to check in online as much as 24 hours in advance.

8. Reserve a parking spot. Holidays are also crunch time at airport parking lots, where the best spots fill up fast. You can avoid circling the airport in search of a space by reserving a parking spots at off-airport lots, which offer shuttles to the airport. Services like Park ’n Fly Network and AirportParkingReservations.com allow travelers to search for and reserve a spot by plugging in their departure airport and travel dates. Rates start at about $6 a day, but vary by airport.

9. Know your airport. If your flight is delayed, you may end up spending a lot of time there. Airport Maps, a $2.99 app for the iPhone, shows where gates, airline lounges, restaurants and shops are at more than 60 major North American airports, so you can easily pick up some last-minute gifts at the duty-free store. Another app, iFly Pro, offers details on 350 commercial airports for $6.99.