Air travel has been bouncing back faster than originally thought, but so are badly-behaved passengers! This doesn’t have to be the case, though. I fully believe an informed traveler is a pro traveler, regardless of background, reason for traveling, or travel experience. It’s all about what you know and what you want your strategy to be! So I decided to write a little post about my favorite air travel hacks. Get your mess together and travel like a pro!
For All Flights
No matter how long or short your flight, these tips will help you fly better and be a better-informed traveler, too!
Find a Deal—but Never Buy from a Third Party
Some people can put in their credit card information and never look back. Others tend to obsess about whether or not they paid as little as possible, get buyer’s remorse in the worst way, or they always think they overpaid, no matter how much the ticket cost!
The solution? Know you got the best deal! How do you know? You find out where and how to look. Use sites like Skyscanner, Google Flights, Expedia, or another third party site to find a deal, then buy that ticket, at that price, directly from the airline. You’re not getting a lower price on a third party site, they’re just finding it for you, then making a commission. This saves you the time and trouble of going to every airline’s website on your own and searching each site individually, then comparing your own results.
Once you find the deal you want, go directly to the airline’s website and buy that same ticket there, for the same price. No, really, you can do that, and you should!
What if the price goes down later?
Well, COVID gave us a bit of a gift. The big three airlines in the U.S., American, Delta, and United, have all instated a “no change fee” policy. (Note: this has always been Southwest’s policy.) That means, if your ticket price drops before your trip, all you have to do is call the airline to basically exchange the ticket you purchased and buy the new one instead, no hefty change fees included.
The difference goes into a travel fund associated with your account, which can be used within a year for a future flight. So now, you can know you got the best deal, even if the price drops after you buy your tickets!
Read on: How to Find Cheap Flights
Track Your Aircraft
This one is so valuable! And a little bit sneaky, which I like. In your airline’s app, go to your reservation and click on “Where is this aircraft coming from” or a similar phrase. You’ll be able to see if your aircraft is delayed at an earlier destination, which will most certainly effect your own departure time.
If you can tell your plane is not going to arrive in time for take-off, you can get a head-start on finding an alternative flight, even before anyone else on your flight knows it will be delayed! This is especially helpful for regional flights, which require planes to make multiple short flights in a day. Trust me, the domino effect is real, especially the later in the day you fly!
More here: Tips for Flying United
Whether Cancelled or Delayed—Call AND Stand in Line
My regional, non-stop flight from BOS-IAD a couple of years ago was significantly delayed due to an issue on the aircraft’s earlier flight, as alluded to in the topic above. I was able to sort out my flight because I knew how to beat the system, but I was sitting next to the lengthy customer service line where everyone else was waiting. I started a conversation with someone in line and suggested they call the airline while they waited.
A girl in line in her early 20s, maybe younger, piped up in a know-it-all tone and said, “If you call you just get the automated system. The only way to get a new ticket is this line.”
That is just not true. Keep your options open, and give yourself the best chance at a solution! You may get to the front of the line first, or you may be able to talk to a live person before you get to the front of the physical line. Try both—one of them will work!
No Seat Back Entertainment, No Problem
I got really irritated when airlines started taking away seat back entertainment systems. Their excuse was that “everyone just watches shows they download on their iPads.” Well, not everyone has an iPad! It’s nice to have the option to watch a TV show or movie in-flight.
I’m perfectly content to read a book or do some work on my laptop or my phone, but don’t forget about podcasts, playlists, and audiobooks! Be prepared if you find yourself starting at the back of someone’s headrest.
For Long-haul Flights
I know it’s been a while since the vast majority of us have flown long-haul, or even on a trans-continental red-eye—me included! But no worries! Here are some quick reminders of how to make the most of it (especially in economy), and some fun strategies you may never have heard of before.
*The links below are Amazon affiliate links, meaning that when you click the links to shop with me, you’re supporting my small business at no additional cost to you!
Use Compression Socks
Let me tell you something: swollen feet are unnecessarily uncomfortable. Why do feet swell on long flights? Lack of circulation. Not good for blood clots, not good for your feet, not good for your legs. How do you fix that? Compression socks! I never fly more than five hours in a row without mine. You’ll be glad you have them!
Read next: Surviving the Long-haul Flight
I don’t know about you, but airplane food is never enough for me! I’m always scrambling for something, and airport food prices are akin to thievery. I always recommend bringing your own. They can be as healthy or as indulgent as you want. Comfort is key in-flight! The mixed pack below gives you plenty of fun options.
More here: The Best Snacks for Every Flight
BYOTM: Bring Your Own Travel Mug
This is my favorite hack! Did you know that aircrafts come with an “instant hot” water tap? That’s how they make hot water for tea in-flight. But who wants to waste their time on a tiny 4-ounce cup of Lipton? Bring your own tea bags, instant coffee, or other hot beverage mix, and use your own travel mug. The one below is perfect because it’s slender for carry-on purposes, and it’s leak-proof!
Bring a Pair of Slippers
Maybe this sounds high-maintenance, but I always pack a pair of rubber-soled slippers for long flights, especially overnight. My feet tend to fall asleep in-flight when I leave my regular shoes on, which is not good, since circulation to your extremities is important when flying.
So, I take my shoes off. But you know what’s gross? Airplane bathroom floors. So, I’m not walking around in socks, and I don’t recommend you do either! Bring a pair of slippers with a rubber sole, and you’ll be comfy all flight long. Even better? Find a pair that’s washable, like the ones below!
Read on: My In-flight Beauty Routine
Want more? Check out all my air travel tips, strategies, and hacks on my dedicated Air Travel Page!
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