5 Ways to Save Time and Energy at the Airport

November 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

As frequent travelers, and the luggage supplier to business travelers all over the world, we’ve shared a lot of travel advice. And one of the things we know is that while we may not enjoy sitting in an airport, trying to get work done, it’s worse to stand in line and not get any work done at all.

A recent article in Smarter Travel shared several ways to save time and get us out of line, as well as save some money in the process. These can save you anywhere from several minutes to a few hours of time, and let you get more work done, or you can simply have more time to relax.

Download your airline’s app. This free service will let you know if your flight has been delayed, and has up-to-date information about arrival and departure times. You can be in the know about where to find your connecting plane. Plus, the GateGuru app can give you information about security wait times, gate changes, and maps of over 200 airports.

The TSA Security lines at Denver International Airport

The TSA Security lines at Denver International Airport

Check in online. This is the easiest way to bypass a line and get on your way to security faster. Online check in also provides you with a virtual boarding pass which you can scan with the TSA officer instead of having to juggle it and your identification. Better yet, just use your airline app. You don’t even have to mess with your laptop and printer.

Protect Your Personal Information. Be very, very wary about using public wifi. Not every free wifi hotspot you see is legitimate; some enterprising thief can set up a fake hotspot called AIRPORT_WIFI and you’ll never know the difference. So, be sure all your computer security and the firewall are up to date, before you leave the office. Next, never do any personal banking or financial transactions online when you’re in public. If you need to work online, use your mobile phone’s personal hotspot.

Bring food with you. You won’t be gouged for overpriced airport food that probably isn’t very healthy, and you’ll know who handled that piece of fruit before you. Consider some pre-packaged energy bars as well, because they’ll keep in your bag for a few days.

Mark your luggage. Even if you don’t check your bag, there are still a lot of black carry-ons out there. Be sure to have a luggage tag with your name and address securely fastened to the bag. Consider adding something to distinguish the bag from everyone else’s, like a decal, or tying a very small tchotchke to the handle.

How do you minimize downtime in the airport? What do you do to avoid lines and still say efficient? Share some ideas in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Melissa Gutierrez (Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)

Stuck With an Expensive Hotel Reservation? Sell It

November 9, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Have you ever had this happen? You’re scheduled to go on a business trip and the client cancels? Or plans change and you have to push your trip out by a couple weeks. You’re outside the cancellation window for your hotel, and you’re left holding the proverbial bag, so you can’t cancel the room without paying the entire cost of the room.

Two companies want you to know there may be a solution by essentially “subletting” your room.

RoomerTravel and Cancelon have both created services that allow you to list the hotel room you can’t use for a reduced price. “The average discount is forty-five percent,” Richie Karaburun, managing director for RoomerTravel, told The New York Times.

Depending on the location of your hotel room, though, you could still recoup its full price. Sellers can ask any price for the room, although neither company guarantees its resale.

If you're stuck with a hotel reservation you can't cancel, you can try selling it.

The Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City

Here’s how it works: A seller lists their room on either site. RoomerTravel takes a 15 percent cut for their services, Cancelon takes ten. Services are free to buyers. Potential buyers can see rooms for resale on Kayak and Trivago, RoomerTravel lists theirs on Skyscanner, and Cancelon users can also see what’s available through TripAdvisor.

The downside for consumers using these sites to book a room is that there’s no way to know whether or not the room is being offered as a resale.

Once the sale is finalized, both companies contact the hotel on behalf of the seller to make arrangements for the change to the booking name and credit card guarantee.

Both RoomerTravel and Cancelon are experiencing growing pains and travelers have expressed some concerns when they choose a room and receive confirmation from Cancelon or RoomerTravel instead of the hotel chain they thought they were choosing. But lack of brand awareness should dissipate quickly, especially as more people realize they can offload their rooms, or find rooms at a surprising price.

Right now, the hotel industry is cooperating but remains cautious. Rosanna Maietta, a spokesperson for the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA), told The Times, “the AHLA is aware that sites like this exist and is constantly monitoring new entrants like these to the digital marketplace and their impact on customers.”

Would you ever “sublet” a room through RoomerTravel or Cancelon? Or do you prefer a more proven method? What would it take for you to try one of these services? Let us hear from you in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Alan Light (Wikimedia Commons/Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)

How to Keep Your Home Safe while Traveling

October 28, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

There’s a great deal of emphasis these days being placed on personal security while traveling. But have you thought about ways you might be “leaving the door unlocked” for thieves while you’re away from home? By instituting a few simple routines, you can keep your house secure while you’re traveling for business or leisure.

This first one may seem a bit obvious, but in our oversharing culture it’s worth noting: Do not post on social media when you’re going out of town. Disable the “check in to favorites” and “check in to recent places” on your Swarm/Foursquare app or Facebook, so those apps do not automatically display that you’re in another state.
Keep your house safe while you're traveling
Also, avoid posting vacation pictures until you return from your trip so those who search the Internet for this kind of information can’t easily target your home. One good use of technology: a simple text sent to neighbors you trust, telling them you’re leaving town and asking them to keep an eye on your place, may raise someone’s suspicion if they see unusual activity around your home.

Home automation is another technology method, but we’re long past the days of the automatic timers that shut off all the lights at exactly the same time every day. A free web service called IFTTT (which used to be If This, Then That) allows you to use its partnerships with various manufacturers’ products to control your house’s lighting, heating and cooling, and alarm system remotely.
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How to Get into Any Airport Lounge With an App and Credit Card

October 21, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Years ago, an airport lounge used to be an exclusive privilege available only to passengers of a certain status or with a specific type of ticket. No more! With the click of a few buttons on a few apps, and a credit card, you too can escape the hustle and chaos of the general waiting area in the terminal, and enjoy the comfort and convenience of a quiet and clean lounge.

What amenities do they offer that make them worth the price?

Oslo Airport Lounge - Gardermoen Airport

This is the Oslo Lounge at Gardermoen Airport.

For one thing, they’re quiet and comfortable. That can be a major benefit if you’re a business traveler on an extended layover and you want to remain productive. You’ll have access to a table at which to sit, instead of balancing your laptop on your legs and fighting with other passengers for the charging station.

Or if you’d rather relax, the chairs are very comfortable and conducive to a quick nap. There are a few TVs — which you’re actually able to hear — and they offer food and drinks; premium lounges have upscale amenities such as showers, hair salons, and even oxygen bars.
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Avoid Higher Airline Prices for “Open Jaw” Flights

October 19, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Recently, the country’s three major airlines each implemented a little change to their pricing models that, if you’re not careful, can end up costing you a lot more per flight.

The change, says The New York Times, could make it up to seven times more expensive for those who fly what’s called an “open jaw” route.
british-airways-boeing-747-400-g-civh-departs-london-heathrow-11apr2015
That’s where you fly to a particular destination, but return home from a different one. For example, if you flew to Miami, but flew home from Orlando, that’s an “open jaw,” or multi-city flight.

We don’t want you to be caught unaware, so here are some things we suggest you do before you purchase a multi-city or open jaw ticket.

  • Check into the cost of two one-way tickets. There’s a very good chance the two tickets will cost less than the one open-jaw flight. The example we saw in the Times story showed a $1200 price tag for a Jacksonville, FL to Los Angeles/San Francisco to Jacksonville. But as two separate tickets, it was $400. Read more

Planning for Your First Business Trip

October 17, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

You’ve just found out from your boss that you’re being sent on your first business trip. Don’t panic — we’re here to help! Here are several tips we’ve compiled from our veteran road warriors to get you off on the right foot as you learn the ropes.

First, plan your trip according to your company’s policies. If you have an internal travel agent, make sure you connect with them to get your flights and hotels booked. If you need to handle this yourself, that’s a bonus! Investigate which airlines go where you need to go and consider becoming a loyalty member. There are numerous online reviews that will provide you with details about seat width, legroom, and on-time records.

Pick an airline that will become your favorite over your business travel career.

A few things to consider: Try to pick an airline that you will make your favorite, since you could be flying with them for years. And don’t always pick the cheapest airlines out there. Some of them are the cheapest for a reason.

Download the carrier’s mobile app so you can check-in online and have your boarding pass right on your phone. Going paperless means you have one less thing to manage. The app will also alert you to any changes in your flight’s status.

If this is the first of what will become many business trips, invest in TSA’s PreCheck. It’s only $85, and it lasts for 5 years. That’s $17 per year of not wasting unnecessary time standing in the security lines.
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How Airports Can Get Rid of the TSA

October 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Who hasn’t thought while standing in a slow-moving TSA security line, “Couldn’t somebody do this better than the federal government?” There actually is somebody, and there may be a way for your airport to replace the TSA with a private firm.

And after a very hectic travel summer, with reports of up-to-three-hour waits at some security lines, a lot of people started asking that question.

A relatively unknown program, actually operated by the TSA, called the Partnership Screening Program, allows the federal agency to receive bids from private security firms to replace the TSA’s services at the nation’s municipal airports. The private contractors provide screening under federal oversight, and must offer similar wages and benefits for their employees.

The TSA Security lines at Denver International Airport

In fact, the option to fire the TSA dates back to the inception of the agency in 2002 after the September 11 terrorist attacks. At that time, five airports were allowed to contract with private firms as a way for Congress to assess and compare its approach with one offered by the private sector: San Francisco; Kansas City, MO; Rochester, NY; Tupelo, MS; and Jackson, WY.

Kansas City and San Francisco’s international airports were the only two major airports in that original five. But since then, 17 other regional airports around the country have fired the TSA and, with the exception of Kansas City, contracted with Trinity Technology Group, a Department of Homeland Security Safety Act certified company, for their security screening process. Kansas City works with Akal Security.
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5 Financial Mistakes Road Warriors Never Make

October 10, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

There are several categories of traveling business professionals: the occasional business traveler, the frequent flyer, and the road warrior. Road warriors spend significant portions of the work week traveling between clients, and have a few tricks up their collective sleeves that save them and their employers money.

The occasional traveler might still be learning the ropes, and don’t yet know all the tricks of the trade. But Insperity.com had a list of their most important ones, which we agree every business traveler should know.
TSA Checkpoint - Road Warriors know to avoid this by being a part of TSA's Pre-Check
First, fiscally responsible road warriors don’t incur expenses that aren’t reimbursable. They research their company’s travel and entertainment policies — the amount of their daily per diem, for example — and stick to them. This means they aren’t surprised by rejected submissions that leave them stuck with the bill.

Fiscally responsible road warriors know their corporation’s budgets for flights, hotels, meals, and entertaining clients. They seek pre-approval if they need to spend more than is typically allotted, and then proceed to execute their plan with confidence.

Fiscally responsible road warriors live by this simple axiom: time is money. They know they can’t afford to waste time standing in long security lines, so they apply for TSA’s Pre Check. Even if they only travel a few times each year, the $85 security preauthorization is good for five years, and more than pays for itself during that time. (If you’ve ever stood for two hours in a single security line, you’d be ecstatic to escape it for $85 just once!)
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Five Things to Do in a Hotel Room

October 7, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Whether you’re staying at a high-end resort or a budget motel, there are some aspects of staying in public accommodations that are universal. Everyone should do them, no matter in which part of the world you’re resting your head for the night.

SmarterTravel.com shared two different articles — things to do and things to never do in a hotel room — and we picked a few of our favorites. Do these before you decide to unpack.

There are a few things you should do before you settle into your hotel room.

There are a few things you should do before you settle into your hotel room.

Look for bedbugs. They’re hard to spot, but evidence of their infestation is not. Examine the mattress pad, comforter, and furniture for brown bloodstains, which are the fecal remains of the insects’ processing of the blood they ingest while you sleep. If you see evidence, ask for a new room. Bedbugs are not the kind of souvenir you’re looking for from any trip.

That light switch you’re about to flip is full of germs. Don’t touch it until you’ve sanitized it with a portable wipe or a washcloth from the bathroom that you’ve squirted with some liquid hand sanitizer. Wipe down the remote control, door handles, bedside clock radio, and phone. (Especially the remote control.)
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Homeland Security Asks Airlines to Eliminate Baggage Fees

October 5, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Travel was pretty difficult for some this past summer, as the TSA struggled to clear long lines at the security checkpoints. Travelers faced waits as long as three hours, causing them to miss their flights. The ordeal was eventually sorted, and people were able to get to their destinations as usual.

But this problem could be avoided, said the TSA and a few Washington lawmakers, if the airlines would just get rid of their checked baggage fees.
The TSA Security lines at Denver International Airport
Jeh Johnson, the head of Homeland Security, and TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger asked the nation’s airlines to consider waiving or eliminating baggage fees in order to encourage more people to check bags and alleviate the security process clogged by travelers who only have carry-ons.

Not surprisingly, the airlines said no. They’ve had these fees in place since 2007, and it’s how they have been able to remain profitable. How can you do your part to keep the security line moving? Here are some simple, practical reminders to consider:

  • Apply for TSA PreCheck. Even if you only travel once a year, at $85 for five years’ certification, you’ll eliminate most of the hassle that comes with the regular TSA lines: you won’t have to take off your shoes or jacket, unpack your toiletries, or remove your laptop.
  • Make sure your toiletries are the standard 3.4 ounces and that the bag you carry them in is transparent and accessible, like a kitchen reclosable bag.
  • Wear slip-on shoes so you don’t hold up the line untying shoes or unzipping boots. If you can’t do this, loosen the laces or unzip the zipper so that you can ease your feet out quickly. Read more

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