Like anything, the more you travel, the easier it becomes, because you learn little tricks and tips to get through the airport quicker, or what to pack, or even when and where to book your tickets. If you can learn these tips and tricks now, it may save you money, time and frustration in the future.
Sign Up For TSA PreCheck or Global Entry
TSA (Transportation Security Administration) PreCheck is for US Citizens and allows you to move through security quickly at airports. It costs $85 for 5 years, and you need to apply online for a face to face appointment that includes a background check and fingerprinting. But after you have been accepted, you can travel quickly through security without the hassles of having your computer checked, or taking off your shoes, etc. Go here to sign up.
Global Entry is a similar service through US Customs and Border Protection. You may have noticed the kiosks at airports, which allows low risk citizens to go through customs quickly. It also includes an interview and background check.
Book 2 One-way flights for better deals
Sometimes it is cheaper to buy 2 one way tickets than to but a round trip ticket to the same destination. Travelling has changed, and depending on your itinerary and how flexible you are with your schedule, you need to do some investigation to determine your best route. Here is a CNBC article talking about the differences between booking a round trip ticket or splitting up your travel.
Book Non-US airlines if possible – they have better amenities
If your expectation for you flight go beyond the basics of departing and arriving on time with your luggage, you may want to look into what amenities are available on foreign airlines. Here is an article from farecompare.com discussing some of the more luxurious amenities.
Understand code shares to earn miles on partner airlines
Code sharing refers to a practice through which a flight operated by one airline is jointly marketed as a flight by one or more other airlines. Through codeshare partnerships, an airline is able to place their designator code on flights operated by our other airlines, which allows them to provide you with worldwide services through an extensive network of convenient flight connections. Because of their affiliations, you can earn points with other airlines and transfer them to one airline’s point system.
Book an economy ticket with Y or B booking code to get upgrades
There are different fare classes, and they are indicated on your ticket with a letter. Some are more complicated than others. Complicated because the code varies by airline. Others are common between airlines. Here are some that are common amongst all airlines:
Y – Full fare economy class ticket
J – Full fare business class ticket
F – Full fare first class ticket
It is important to know that the most discounted tickets also have the strictest rules when it comes to refunds, changes, baggage allowances and earning frequent flyer miles or elite credit.
So learn what the codes mean, and which ones are upgradeable, and will give you the best chance of being upgraded on your next flight.
Score discounted tickets by pretending your are somewhere else when booking.
The fact is that the place that you complete a transaction can affect the price of any flight with an international component. You can actually get a cheaper price on a flight by pretending that you are buying from another location. It is the effect of leveraging foreign currencies.
Clear your cookies and search history for cheaper fares.
With dynamic pricing, your next search for a flight will increase the price of your ticket. You can get around this by clearing your cookies and search history. It will be considered a first search that will give you the best price. It is one of the easiest ways to get a good ticket price.
Know you have a 24 hour window to get a refund.
It is difficult to get a refund on your flight ticket it you bought the cheapest, most economical ticket you could find. But you can still try and get a refund. Your best bet is to try the further you are from the flight. So, as soon as you can, call customer service at the airline. If you are within 24 hours of booking your flight, some airlines have a policy that you can get your refund. If there is no way that you are going to get a refund, instead ask for a flight change.
Fly a 717, they have fewer middle seats than other planes
The worst seats on a plane, bar none, are the middle seats. They are cramped, tight and you have a person on both sides to compete with for the arm rest. They are also the seats that are left over, and the cheapest seats available because they are the last ones that anyone wants. The best way to ensure that you don’t get the middle seat is to book early. (Note: in one study by Expedia, the lowest average price for flights are at 57 days before).
Another way is to look at the configuration of the planes that our airline uses. Look for flights using McDonnell Douglas MD80 series, MD90 and Boeing 717 jets. These aircraft feature five-abreast seating in a 3-2 configuration. This means there is only one middle seat per row.In the US, the MD and 717 aircraft are mostly operated by Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and Allegiant.
Download your airlines app for flight info and paperless boarding
To encourage paperless boarding, airlines are starting to charge passengers who require assistance from a ticket agent to print their ticket a nominal $5 fee. The airline is motivated by shortening their lines, and increasing flyer experience. Everyone wins when they start using technology.
Prepare a go bag of essential items
Here is a list of the essential items that you need in your travel go bag.
- backpack/ruck sack with compartments to organize your things.
- water purifier – a lot of foreign countries have water that needs to be purified before you drink it. The water purifier can be as simple as a purifier straw.
- tactical flashlight – provides light and protection in an emergency.
- backpack body armor – just cuz
- tactical pen – looks like a pen, and provides protection.
- paracord – paracord bracelet can provide you with extra cord for when you need it.
- small dry bags to protect your electronics.
- a spork, so you always have a utensil you can use for a meal.
- duct tape – to fix your equipment and can be used for building things.
- ferro rod necklace – the ferro rod can be used to make fire, but looks like a necklace.
Keep an extra set of cables and chargers ready.
We have all been there, when we need a charger for our phone or tablet, and we can’t find a cord or a charger. We lost our one and only cord. That is why it makes sense to have an extra set of cables and chargers ready “in case”. Hide them in a glasses case, where they are organized and easily found.