I consider myself a frequent business traveler, but even I was shocked when I descended the escalator to the security area at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago last month. The entire winding queue was full and an overflow area had been set up to accommodate more travelers. My first thought was, “I’m glad I got here early.”
Now that the summer travel season is in full swing, many people are experiencing firsthand what others have been talking about for months: long lines. TSA successfully petitioned Congress this spring to reverse its decision to cut 1,700 people from its workforce and has hired 800 new officers, but it’s still taking some time to get up to speed.
While air travel used to be a luxurious experience, today planes are the buses of the sky — some seats are comfortable, but many are, well, not. With a little bit of strategizing, though, you can get a better seat for your next trip. It takes some pre-planning, and maybe a fee or two, but you can avoid sitting in an uncomfortable seat way in the back.
Don’t believe everything you read. If an airline’s website says “only premium economy seats are available,” pick up the phone and make your reservation with a live human being who can assign you a seat. They can see and do things the website can’t.
Ask and it may be yours. You can always check with the gate agent when you arrive before your departure to see if there’s space on the upgrade list. Sometimes, a long-distance flight in coach can turn into a business class upgrade for much less than the original ticket price, and, bingo, you’re flying in comfort.
Have you ever stood in line waiting to board a flight and thought to yourself, “If they’d just put me in charge, I could get us on this plane a lot faster”?
Truth be told, though, it’s not as random or inefficient as it may seem. Just the opposite. Vast amounts of research have resulted in several different processes over several different airlines. We found the following compilation in an article on Conde Nast Traveler very interesting.
If you travel a great deal, you’ve probably been unable to avoid the hassle of being bumped. Overbooking has been the most common reason given for the inconvenience, and it’s usually the correct reason. Airlines book more seats than they have available, because they’re counting on no-shows. Except sometimes people do what they’re supposed to.
Then the dance begins.
The gate agent addresses the passengers waiting to board and explains the flight is full due to the airline overselling the plane’s capacity. They’ll ask for volunteers to give up their seat in exchange for a travel voucher. If no one steps forward, the bumping begins.
But that’s not the only reason to get bumped. Maybe your connector flight doesn’t arrive in time, and you’re automatically bumped to another flight scheduled to arrive three hours later. That’ll put a crimp in your business trip in a hurry.
Many travelers are surprised when they’re greeted in English while traveling abroad. One of our colleagues used to get frustrated whenever he would travel to Germany and the Netherlands, and then be greeted in English. His goal was to pass as a local, so it would bothered him that people could tell immediately.
If you’ve ever wondered, “How did they know?” and wanted to blend in a bit, here are a few tips from veteran travelers. Taking the time to educate yourself before leaving home will allow you to navigate your new city or country with the finesse of a local.
First, learn a few key phrases, such as “please” and “excuse me.” Even if you don’t manage the correct pronunciation, natives are impressed by the effort and courage. One of those small social exchanges may lead to a beautiful connection.
You’ve read the reviews, you’ve asked friends, and you’ve researched online, but you’re still unsure how to go about determining which kind of luggage to purchase. What should you do?
Let’s assume you’ve identified what you’ll be using the bag for: regular business travel or infrequent leisure travel. That has helped you qualify how much you’ll be willing to spend in order to have something that will serve your needs for the length of time you anticipate needing it. You’ve analyzed different bags to determine the features you’ll need. You’ve factored in past experiences with other pieces you’ve had as you’ve thought through this purchase.
Having done all that, nothing can substitute for going to a store and giving your chosen bag a test run. Take advantage of the sales associates where you shop. They should be knowledgeable and helpful. If they’re not, seek out a store that specializes in luggage sales.
You’re traveling to a new city, either on business or leisure, and you want to experience it the way the locals do. Before 2008, the idea of staying in someone’s home was only a viable option if you already knew someone there. Airbnb (and before that, HomeExchange) changed all that. Now you can safely stay in someone’s home or apartment and perhaps even share a meal with your hosts, providing a uniquely personal way to get acquainted with your destination.
While you may already be familiar with the shared economy of accommodations, did you know there’s also an alternative to the traditional rental car industry? Through companies like RelayRides, Zipcar, Hubber, Getaround, and JustShareIt, individuals can share their vehicles with travelers who need them on demand, or for as brief a time as one hour.
In some cases, the owners of the cars pick their renters up at the airport, saving time spent in rental car lines. If you’re looking for a different mode of transportation, Spinlister offers travelers the ability to rent a bicycle, snowboard, or skis. You can even rent a boat using GetMyBoat.
The transportation you use once you arrive at your destination, whether traveling from the airport to your hotel or from the commuter train to your business meeting, can be a big part of your overall travel experience.
Besides impacting your overall feeling about the trip, it can be expensive, depending on what you use. While limos or taxis used to be the predominant method, the popularity of Uber and its competitor Lyft have changed the conversation about what mode of transport is not only most pleasant and efficient, but most cost effective.
To that end, GM and Lyft are betting that utilizing driverless cars will create an even less expensive option for users. Conde Nast Traveler reports the two companies have combined forces, and GM has purchased driverless tech company Cruise Automation, with an eye on capturing that emerging market.
It’s not hard to imagine, and it’s every weary traveler’s worst case scenario. Perhaps this has happened to you. You arrive home from your trip only to find your luggage didn’t make the trip with you. You rummage around and find those little baggage claim stickers from the depths of your carry-on to show an airline customer service representative, but other than that you have no way of knowing where your bags are. It’s an awful beginning or end to any trip.
Currently, there are many bag tracking devices and accompanying apps on the market, but those put the onus on the traveler to make the airline aware that, for example, they’re on a flight to Omaha while their luggage is on its way to London.
Delta is turning this model around, as they have recently announced a $50 million update to their baggage tracking technology system. New RFID scanners, RFID bag tag printer, and RFID pier and claim readers have been installed in 344 stations worldwide. Delta’s investment is the largest outlay by a single airline to date, and has resulted in baggage tracking that is 99.9 percent accurate.
In the food world, it’s said that we eat with our eyes first. The same could be said when purchasing luggage: we are attracted to a bag because of its looks before we consider the merits of its construction. Today, I want to highlight some of the fabrics used in the TravelPro lines so that you know what you’re getting when you purchase a soft-sided piece of luggage.
Polyester and nylon are the preeminent fabric choices, and the strength and durability of each is determined by its denier and weave pattern. Denier is the thread count, the measured thickness of each individual strand of yarn; the higher the denier, the higher the quality of the material, usually.
Nylon is typically viewed as stronger than polyester, but the industry has seen major improvements in polyester’s durability in the past five years, making it a viable alternative to nylon.