Everyone knows air travel can be stressful, but there are numerous sources of stress that can be easily avoided to alleviate the pain. Although there may be no such thing as a perfect flight to anywhere, keeping these bits of advice in mind can go a long way toward improving the overall experience. Whether a veteran traveler or new to exploring the world, these can prove as rewarding as frequent flyer miles.
• Get right on the phone when a flight is cancelled: The best way to handle an off-schedule flight is to call the airline as you wait on line at the ticket desk. There’s a good chance you’ll reach a phone agent first. Equally as important, a passenger won’t have to negotiate with the same frazzled agent who’s dealt with dozens of similarly disgruntled fliers.
• Expect peak crowds on peak days: Larger crowds lead to more chaotic parking and drop-off situations and longer wait times at security checkpoints. Plan accordingly. In general, airports are most crowded on Monday mornings and Friday afternoons, as these days bear the brunt of business travel.
• Wait for a valuable voucher on an overbooked flight: If a flight is overbooked, don’t accept the first voucher that is offered. Airlines typically increase their offer until there are enough volunteers willing to give up their seats. If the airline bumps passengers involuntarily, insist on cash compensation instead of a voucher.
• Take advantage of the airport lounge: For those travelers with a long layover, it might be worth it to purchase a daily pass to the airport lounge. One-day passes are available for Admirals Club, Sky Club and United Club, all for $60 or less. Amenities include everything from complimentary snacks and drinks to Wi-Fi and shower suites.
• Check in to the seat ahead of time: Along with saving valuable time at the airport, checking in to a flight ahead of time can earn bonus miles and help score a better seat.
• To avoid motion sickness, stay in the middle of the plane: While a last-minute upgrade might seem like a good idea—especially for those who find themselves falling ill on flights—the seats in the middle of the plane are best for those with motion sickness. A plane is like a seesaw; the middle doesn’t move as much.
• Measure any carry-ons: Because carry-on requirements vary by airline (9″x14″x22″ is standard for Delta, United and American Airlines; Southwest allows 10″x16″x24″), it’s best to confirm space allotments and measure bags before they are packed. And if it is stuffed to capacity, measure the suitcase again before leaving the house.
• Check airport monitors for flight information: While it’s great to subscribe to flight-status updates on a smartphone (sign up for these when checking in to a flight), don’t use them as the only source of information. Airport monitors are still the best bet for the most up-to-date information.
• Pack liquids in an outside pocket: Make security checkpoints a breeze by packing liquids (which are all 3.4 ounces or smaller and zipped into a one-quart Ziploc bag) into an outside pocket of any carry-ons. Laptops and tablets fall into the same category. Check out the TSA’s website for a full list of items on the no-fly list.
No matter where a plane may be taking its passengers, the trip doesn’t have to be painful—and attention to pearls of wisdom like these can make a great start (and end) to the trip.
© 2019 Silver Disobedience Inc.