l’ll admit I don’t fly much. However, I just returned from a trip to Northwest Arkansas, where my nephew got married. Because of this excursion, I picked up a few travel tips that I thought I would pass along.
1. Download the app of the airline you’re flying on
Because US Airways and American Airlines are going through a merger, I wound up downloading both of their apps. The US Airways app has a Boarding Pass Wallet that, after I entered my contact information, I was able to load my coordinates into.
Fortunately, I wasn’t checking luggage, so I didn’t need to use it to track our bags. But a bag-tracking feature is available and I understand it comes in handy. For instance, since airlines scan your bag a) when you check it, b) when it goes onto the plane, and c) when it comes, off, you should know with the app whether your bag made the connection or not.
Another benefit is you can actually use the app for free while flying. This is very helpful to see if your next flight is on time or not as well as to see what gate to make it over to.
2. Use mobile boarding passes, if possible
I may be one of the last holdouts to do away with paper, but I thought I would take the plunge and go paperless this time. It all worked out fine.
When I checked in the night before our flight, I found out that I had a new frequent flyer number and that I didn’t have a mobile boarding pass. I chalked this up to the merger. Interestingly enough, I did have mobile boarding passes on the return flights and they worked pretty well.
The only scare came when the app wouldn’t open. I had to reboot my phone and it opened just in time. Fortunately I wasn’t standing in line to board at that time. I’m not sure how the airline would have handled it if all I had was a mobile boarding pass that didn’t open or if the phone was completely out of juice.
3. Don’t just jump at the first opportunity to go a different route
When we found out that we were waiting for a flight attendant to arrive at the airport and that our boarding time and flight would be delayed, they called me up to the counter. They offered to reroute us through another city (Charlotte, instead of Dallas), I was tempted to leap at the opportunity. The proposed flight was already boarding and, I was told, we could get on it. But we had to hurry because it was leaving from a different gate. Well, I stayed and asked a few questions and, sure enough, a few minutes later, they had released the seats to other passengers, so they were no longer available. Had I leapt at the offer, we probably would have had to run to catch it – and it got in an hour after we eventually arrived. So my takeaway was “Don’t panic, ask questions.”
4. Put your luggage in the overhead bin across the aisle and in front of you
As long as I’ve been flying, I’ve subscribed to this method. Most people put their bags directly above their seat and sometimes behind it. If you do that, you don’t know who is rummaging around in your suitcase right over top of you. And if you put it behind your seat, you have to “fight oncoming traffic” after the flight, which isn’t fun. If you wind up putting the suitcase behind you and insist on getting it while people are filing out, I guarantee you won’t make many friends. I retrieved a bag for someone a few rows in front of me who had moved closer to the cockpit after she had stored her luggage in the overhead bin. While I was happy to pass it up to her, don’t expect others to be so willing to pass your bag over the heads of others.
5. Consider using Uber
The hotel where we were staying did not have an airport shuttle. I was told that a taxi to the airport would cost between $30 and $40. I’d never tried Uber before and thought I’d check it out. The Uber fare turned out to be $7.03 (that low apparently because it was the first time I used it). The driver was on time. And he even spoke English and shared with us a lot of local knowledge.
Seasoned travelers may scoff at these tips as being rudimentary. Nevertheless, I thought to myself that “If I help one person, then it’s worth it.”
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