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Air travel can be stressful, juggling the weight of your suitcase, airport parking, and rushing to your flight’s gate. However, you can set yourself up for success. We asked our colleagues what their favorite habits and things are to do in preparation for flying so that they can be wholly prepared and relaxed.
1. Use the App.
Are you checking a bag? If not, there is no reason to stop at an airline’s check-in desk or deal with a filthy kiosk in the terminal. Before traveling, download your airline’s app, confirm your reservation appears, and use it to check in at security and for boarding. Doing so will save a ton of time and allow you to head straight to security once you arrive at the airport. Also, many airline apps now offer complimentary entertainment.
2. Order an Airline Credit Card.
Rack up airline points, including other perks, by obtaining an airline credit card. These credit cards offer cardholders advantages such as freeof-charge checked bags and priority boarding. Never a bad idea to have comfort that you will always find space in an overhead bin by being among the first passengers on a flight.
3. Frequent Flier Status.
Regarding frequent flier status, if you want to upgrade, ensure your number is included on all airline reservations. If forced to travel with a different airline, check if affiliate points are available. This will help you earn miles with every flight you take and allow you to take advantage of other discounts.
4. Select Your Seat Preference.
Do you prefer the window or an aisle? How about the middle seat? Most of us also avoid seating near the plane’s bathrooms or even the galley area to avoid their accompanying smells and disturbances.
5. Liquid Regulations.
All liquids you bring through a TSA security checkpoint should be less than 3.4 ounces and put in a clear bag no larger than quart size.
6. TSA PreCheck.
It is so lovely to avoid removing your shoes, leaving belts on, placing your laptop and liquids in your bag, and skipping the full-body searches by obtaining a Known Traveler Number (KTN#) via a TSA PreCheck screening and account. TSA PreCheck initially costs $85 ($70 online renewal). Or spend $100 for Global Entry, which usually awards PreCheck and accelerates customs entry. Many credit cards will refund you the application fee for these programs.
7. Size Up Your Bag.
Unearthing a new method for revenue, airlines have implemented carry-on bag size limits. Before traveling, measure your bag’s dimensions and be sure it sticks to your airline’s parameters. If traveling overseas, European limits may vary from U.S. policies. Metric system… ughhh!
8. Limit Your Tech.
Laptops, tablets, phones, cameras, GoPro, chargers, power cords… it all adds up. We are all carrying more gadgets than ever before. Work to lighten your load and purchase a case to organize your devices and power cords.
9. Detach Your Luggage Batteries.
Airlines fear bags that include battery packs could create an onboard fire, thus banning them over four years ago. You may be required to show that your battery has been removed before it is checked or before boarding an aircraft. However, do not leave the battery pack behind. We all expect power outlets at our seats, but many airlines still fly jets without them, or they often do not work.
10. Grab Lounge Access.
Enjoying free Wi-Fi, food, and beverages is always better in a lounge than at a gate. Many premium credit cards include access to hundreds of priority lounges worldwide. Frequent fliers can also research airline-specific credit cards to gain entry into clubs. Agents assigned to these lounges will likely help you faster when in need than the terminal and gate agents to get you rebooked if need be.
11. Bring Extra Comfy Clothes.
We have all been there; airplane cabin temperatures can fluctuate between an iceberg and a heat box, usually with no comfortable temperature. And who wants to touch those air nozzles, which possess germs and only blow a small draft of air anyway? Dress for the unexpected by wearing lightweight layers.
12. Avoid Neck Cramps.
It seems airline seating space is getting smaller and smaller to fit more passengers. Fortunately, travel pillows are sold everywhere and have never been better or provided more options. Invest in a quality travel pillow to help avoid neck and back pain that is so common, especially on long flights.
13. Travel with a Reusable Bottle.
A bottle of water in airport terminals is getting so expensive, and for water?! Come on. Bring a reusable bottle with you and help avoid single-use plastic. Many collapsible bottles are sold to help save space when not in use, as we have seen an increase in airport filling stations for convenience.
14. Wipe it Down!
Airplanes and airports can be filled with germs from the number of passengers touching everything. Protect your health by disinfecting everything as much as possible, including your own hands and your seat once settled. Since sanitizing wipes are not liquid, they do not count toward your carry-on liquid limits.
15. Rockstar Parking.
One of the most stressful experiences when traveling can be finding a parking spot in an airport’s parking garage. Surface lots can also fill up quickly, especially during the most in-demand travel times and dates. Give yourself enough time to find parking without the fear of being late.