21 Clever Little Air-Travel Tips

Caroline Costello, July 09, 2014
Fares from Washington DC:

    You, our readers, have the tendency to surprise us with ingenious, out-of-the-box travel tips. And we love it! Air travel is no exception: You're upgrade-grabbing, airport-conquering, seat-selecting gurus, with lifetimes of advice to share. So we thought we'd put your collective wisdom in one place. The following are some of the best air-travel tips left as comments on our site.

    Airlines

    "The Dubai stopover offered by Emirates has been a wonderful way to break up very long trips from Phoenix to southern Africa. After one long flight from L.A. or Houston to Dubai, Emirates provides a transit visa, hotel (ah, the joys of getting horizontal after a long flight), shuttle, dinner and breakfast, and a night to start getting the body acclimated to the new time zone before setting out on the second leg of the journey. Thank you, Emirates!" —Papa Dave C., Best Airlines for Free Stopovers

    "On the surface, Spirit looks like a cheaper flight, but they charge not only for luggage but carry-ons as well, and even here, you have to prepay online to get the 'low' baggage fee of $30 and $35 for the carry-on, then they get you for more money if you do not pre-check in online. In flight, the plans were as basic as you get, no entertainment at all, no snacks or even a soda. The difference between Spirit and JetBlue in the up-front price was only about $60 on the round-trip; by flying Spirit it ended [up] costing me twice that amount, and I took advantage of the online savings on the baggage. You know what they charge for a bag at the gate? $100!" —William C., Nine New Airlines You Haven't Heard of Yet

    Booking Flights

    "Big tip! If you can find multicity flights [when flying to Europe], do it! U.K. has the second-highest departure tax in the world! For me, it is around $200. When I fly using miles, I fly on American, into London, to Paris on Eurostar, stay awhile, then leave from [Paris]." —Jeannie G., 10 Cheapest Airlines for Flying to Europe

    "A good amenity comparison for flights is found on Routehappy.com. It recently helped me weed through dozens of choices to find the 'happiest' flight from the U.S. to a small European city. Happiness included seat size, swiftness, service, entertainment, Wi-Fi, flyer rating, and price." —Pat L., 10 Consumer Issues in Travel That You Need to Know About

    Seat Reclining

    "When I fly with my husband, we buy window seats, one in front of the other. I have a bad back, so I sit in front of my husband, who doesn't mind if I recline into his space." —Pat G., 10 Signs You're the Worst Person on Your Flight

    "Whatever happened to letting the person know the issue and politely asking if he/she would be willing to readjust the seat just a little so you would have more air space? If you are afraid to do it, you can ask the flight attendant to ask the person if he/she would be willing. I've done this, on occasion, and have never been met with a rude response." —Sandy M., 10 Signs You're the Worst Person on Your Flight

    How to Treat Flight Attendants

    "Never argue with or ignore a flight attendant's instructions when boarding a flight. Whatever the flight attendant says is the rule you have to abide by, whether it's an FAA rule or not. Arguing your point once on board is futile and just creates ill will." —Sandy M., 10 Things Your Flight Attendant Doesn't Want to See (or Hear)

    "I love to hear it when a passenger says good morning to me … it shows they acknowledge my existence on Earth … and as far as bags, I have to work to make money, and my airline does not pay me for an injury on a policy that I have broken … so I choose not to help … because in the end, if I get injured and work doesn't pay me … I highly doubt the passenger will." —Zach M., 10 Things Your Flight Attendant Doesn't Want to See (or Hear)

    Staying Safe

    "Register with step.state.gov so that if you get into trouble abroad (like losing a passport or becoming a victim of crime) the nearest embassy or consulate will already have all of your information at hand." —Gregory W., Best Ways for Travelers to Prevent Identity Theft

    "You've all seen how long it takes to board a plane with all the carry-on items people are bringing on board these days. The only way to evacuate quickly [in the event of an emergency] is not to take anything with you. Rummaging for your things in overhead bins can waste too much time and slow down the whole process, putting yourself and others at unnecessary risk. … If you ever find yourself in such a situation, move quickly to the exit and down the slide, but leave everything. Your life or your seatmate's life is worth more than the value of your purse or your laptop. Just get out immediately." —Donna C., How to Survive a Plane Crash

    In-Flight Snacking

    "I fly about once a month within the U.S. and always have my own food. Veggies like celery, carrots, radishes; apples or cherries; a box of raisins; some sliced baked chicken; nuts; trail-mix bars; a small bag of chips; etc. It helps to put it into a restaurant carry-out box that looks like you picked it up at the airport! I have an empty plastic bottle I fill with water after security. I also keep a plastic fork in my little box. No sauces or condiments." —Patsy D., 10 Flight-Friendly Recipes You Can Make Yourself

    "A delicious [plane snack] is snap pea crisps (Harvest Snaps). They are made out of 70 percent green peas with 100 calories and very low salt! So good and crunchy." —Rose S., Healthy Plane Snacks Under 250 Calories

    At the Airport

    "One thing I have learned is that the best and most knowledgeable agents are usually assigned to the airline lounges. And they have a lot of freedom in how much time they can spend on helping you with your flight arrangements. I have had one agent spend 30 minutes on a sticky overseas-travel ticketing challenge. Imagine having that luxury at the ticket counter! That to me is one of the unheralded advantages of membership in the lounges." —Robert W. A., Seven More Dirty Little Secrets of the Travel Industry

    "Recheck available seats at a kiosk upon arriving at airport. Bulkhead and other prime seats are sometimes released shortly before departure time." —Ben H., How to Get a Better Seat Next Time You Fly

    "Get to the airport early for that early first flight of the day. TSA seems to understaff and often open late. Plus they are still having their morning coffee and chatting with coworkers much like [at] your office." —David G. W., 101 Clever Travel Tricks for 2014

    Checking Baggage

    "It is a good idea to take pictures of your luggage before handing it off at the airport or when boarding or disembarking a cruise ship, so that if it goes missing you have pictures to show." —Vickie L. L., Worst Travel Mishaps (and How to Avoid Them)

    "One warning. If your flight includes a plane change and your carry-on had to be gate checked (when the overhead bins were full), it may not arrive at your final destination." —Jane S. B., 10 Cures for the Chronic Overpacker

    Missed Flights

    "Good advice about calling the airline while waiting in line because of a canceled flight. I did that once and snagged the last open seat on the next flight. In fact, it opened up while I was on the phone." —Sherri S., Worst Travel Mishaps (and How to Avoid Them)

    "Like almost everything in life, 'attitude determines altitude.' Sometimes you have to recognize that you have no control over events such as a delayed or canceled flight. Just go with the flow!" —Geraldine T., Airport Amenities That Make Everything Better

    Getting Upgrades

    "If there are open seats in first class or business, don't hesitate to ask the flight attendant. The gate agent is in charge of collecting for upgrades while the aircraft is on the ground, but once you're in the air, the crew owns the plane … and if you're pleasant, they often have no problem moving you forward." —Don A., How to Get a Better Seat Next Time You Fly

    "Just make sure you never ask in front of customers who have paid for those seats. You'd be surprised how often people make this mistake, and when that happens, the answer always has to be no. A letter from a paying customer demanding his upgrade payment back because flight attendant X was giving nonpayers the same seats for free can cause a lot of problems for that attendant, so most won't stick their necks out and risk this." —Donna C., How to Get a Better Seat Next Time You Fly

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    This article was originally published by SmarterTravel under the title 21 Clever Little Air-Travel Tips from Our Readers.

    Follow Caroline Costello on Google+ or email her at editor@smartertravel.com.

    (Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)

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