Is it vacation time? Are you planning a trip soon? Maybe you travel frequently but you feel like you could be doing it better. As 2014 comes to a close I tallied up my flights and I have been on just under 50 plane this year. Yes, I travel a lot. Work keeps me in the sky, family that lives out of state and in Canada keeps us in the sky, and thankfully the Boy loves travel too so we get in some fun trips each year as well.
1. Where should I book my ticket? I always start a Expedia or one of the other major search engines. Once I get an idea of the prices from different airlines I head directly to the airlines website and book direct through them. Why? I feel like I have received better customer service if or when there are problems (delays, baggage problems, etc) when I booked directly with the airline. This is another great blog post about How to Book the Cheapest Flights. I'm a Delta girl and I would say 90% of the time they have been great to work with which brings me to my second point.
2. Pick an airline and be loyal. I don't mean to sound high and mighty, but it kind of amazes me when people expect amazing or above and beyond customer service when you bounce around from airline to airline and buy solely based on price. Repeat customers are likely going to get better customer service. Also, when you stick with an airline you not only earn air miles that can be used towards future flights, but you move up in the membership rankings and this will earn you extra perks. For example on Delta it can mean free checked bags and customer service lines reserved especially for your membership level.
A little side note to Tip 2. Hotels often let you transfer your hotel points into air miles. I stay at lots of different hotel chains and because of this I often don't get enough points accumulated to earn a free hotel room. However, at most hotels you can link you members number to your air line membership number, thus earning more air miles, getting you closer to that free flight.
3. Use an air miles credit card. Since we fly Delta so much we have a Delta American Express. We always pay off the credit card fully each month, but we try and run everything through it. This can add up to a lot of points really quickly. When we went to Vegas for the NFR this year we paid for the Boys flight and our hotel with Delta Skymiles points. Another perks is we get free checked bags.
4. Luggage - to carry on or not? Here are the things to consider. A. Are you going to be a on a small plane? It seems like there are lots of smaller planes now a days, and that means your carry on (usually roller suitcase) likely won't be able to fit in the overhead luggage compartments. When this happens you have to check your luggage plane side and wait to pick it up plane side before you can board your next flight. This isn't an issue until you have a tighter layover and now you are anxiously waiting for your carry on plane side when you could be on your way to your next gate. B. Are you headed somewhere that you absolutely can not afford to be without particular clothing or items? The only way you'll be guaranteed to have them when you land is to carry on. To solve this problem if I HAVE to carry on I usually put these items in a backpack or a canvas duffle bag that I know I can scrunch into an overhead compartment or under the seat in front of me.
5. Know your way around the airport like a pro. One of my favorite apps is the Delta app. American Airlines, Southwest, etc. all have their own app. Why do I LOVE this app? The app is extremely handy when you have a layover and especially a short connection. It will tell you what gate you are landing at and what gate your next flight is taking off at. This way you can plan you route through the airport before you have even landed. It has reduced my stress level many times, and I it has been the fastest way to make friends with the people I am sitting next to on the plane.
6. What do you do when you run into flight problem? Get on the phone ASAP. You can stand in line and the gate agents will definitely try and work their magic. However, if you call the help line they usually have an option where they will call you back when you are the next one in the line. This way as you are standing in line to talk to a gate agent with the other 100 passengers you may get someone on the phone faster.
How often do you travel? What are some of your best travel tips? Where is your next trip to?