9 Airline Tips and Tricks
Dear Rich Lifer,
The most surreal thing happened the other day.
I had to go out of town on business…
Despite all the current turmoil, I headed to the airport.
Upon walking in, I noticed a striking silence. Other than the agent at the bag check desk, there wasn’t a soul in sight.
After handing off my bag, I made my way over to the security area. Again, there was not one single passenger other than me.
It started to feel like I was in one of those post-apocalyptic movies.
When I finally got to my gate, I did see a few other people, so the eerie feeling started to dissipate, but when we got on the plane, and there were only a total of 13 passengers, it did make me feel concerned again.
No matter how much we wish we could “get back to normal,” the truth is that’s a long way off … if it’s even possible.
The old way of doing things is no longer sustainable.
It’s likely air travel will never be the same after this.
However, that doesn’t mean you’ll never take a Hawaiian vacation or fly out to see your grandson’s graduation.
It just means that things will be different.
Just like 9/11 changed the way we fly, COVID-19 will, too.
According to Delta Airlines CEO Ed Bastian (as quoted by Bloomberg), “The (initial) recovery period could take two to three years.”
Pundits suspect that this means that between now and then, prices will go up, service will go down, and preflight health checks may become mandatory.
After that, who knows what the “new normal” will be? Will we jump through all these hoops every time there’s a bad flu season? Will we forever have to pay more to get less?
To be frank, this all sounds terrible. Airline travel was already stressful enough, and now we can expect longer wait times and less availability?
Fortunately, there are things we can do to make flying more comfortable – even with the new limitations we’re likely to face.
Here are a few of my favorite tips that make flying a little easier — virus or no virus.
Use A Rewards Card
Why not save or receive perks when buying your ticket? Many of the major credit card companies offer a travel rewards program where you can earn points, get access to upgraded lounge areas, and even receive credits for things like baggage fees.
Get Travel Insurance
Two years ago, who could imagine a world where every event was simultaneously canceled? No one could have predicted this, and yet, here we are. Spend a little extra on travel insurance and make sure you can get all your money back should a strange pandemic ever hit us again.
A few days before travel, increase your intake of essential vitamins and minerals. This will help boost your immune system and help you stay energetic throughout your travel day.
When I flew out last week, the online restaurant open in the whole airport was Cinnabon. Since I wasn’t in the mood for 37 grams of fat and 55 grams of sugar first thing in the morning, I went hungry until I got to my destination. Since many airport restaurants will be out of commission (temporarily or permanently), be sure you pack plenty of snacks to get you through the lean times.
Prepare For A Long Haul
Flights are currently being canceled left and right, so be prepared to spend longer than you think at the airport or in your destination city. Bring an empty water bottle so you can stay hydrated, and pack toiletries and an extra outfit in your carry-on just in case.
Check In Online
There are some diehards out there who really want to have a printed boarding pass, but for those of us who value speed and convenience, checking in online is the best way to go. You can have your boarding pass on your smartphone, or print your own copy at home. This tip alone can save you thirty minutes or more, especially if you don’t have to check a bag.
Pack Your Power
Finding an outlet in an airport is really hit or miss. Either you’ll be in a terminal that has plugs at every seat, or you’ll be forced to sit on the floor by the wall if you want to charge your phone. Bring a backup power pack so you can charge your phone wherever you want, or bring a power strip so you can charge your phone and laptop at the same time when you do find an outlet.
Carry Your Own Comfort Items
If you like to have a blanket or pillow on the airplane, be prepared to bring your own. In light of the current fears about germs, it’s unlikely that the airlines will hand out this kind of comfort item again any time soon. Also, noise-cancelling headphones are a must-have, so don’t go without them.
Customize Your Luggage
There are few things more frustrating than waiting at baggage claim trying to find your belongings in a never-ending carousel of similar black bags. Choose colored luggage or at the very least, add a brightly colored ribbon to the handle so you can identify your bags immediately.
Bonus Tip – Use An RFID Blocking Wallet
Just because we’re dealing with a whole new set of inconveniences doesn’t mean the old ones have gone away. Scammers will still try to steal your information – especially in large, anonymous locations like the airport. Put your ID and credit cards in an RFID blocking wallet so you can stay safe from electronic pickpocketing while you’re traveling.
Even though my flight out of town was unsettling, things were a little more normal on the way home. Instead of 13 people on my flight, there were about 40, and in addition to sweets, I also had the option to buy real food at the airport.
Things are slowly getting better, and even if they’ll never be exactly the way they were, there’s still a lot of life out there still left to be lived. The only way forward is through, so if you feel safe enough to travel, now is a good time to get started.
To a richer life,