Welcome to the "The Smart Traveler". Your April 2006 newsletter with tips and information to help make your traveling smoother.


Prepare For Takeoff -Part 3

Part 1 & 2  Dressing & Packing Smart

 
Access Requirements

Boarding Pass and Photo ID Required To Get to Your Gate

 A boarding pass and ID are required to pass through the security checkpoint.  TSA is consolidating passenger screening to the passenger security checkpoints in an on-going commitment to enhance security and improve customer service.  Tickets and ticket confirmations (such as a travel agent or airline itineraries) will no longer be accepted at these checkpoints.

Proper Identification

If you have a paper ticket for a domestic flight, passengers age 18 and over must present one form of photo identification issued by a local state or federal government agency (e.g.: passport/drivers license/military ID), or two forms of non-photo identification, one of which must have been issued by a state or federal agency (e.g.: U.S. social security card). For an international flight, you will need to present a valid passport, visa, or any other required documentation. Passengers without proper ID may be denied boarding.

For e-tickets, you will need to show your photo identification and e-ticket receipt to receive your boarding pass.

There are four ways to obtain a boarding pass:

  • Go to your airline's ticket counter at the airport
  • Use curbside check-in
  • Use your airline's self-service ticket kiosk in the airport lobby
  • Print the boarding pass from your airline's website
     

Note: Persons with parental, official, medical business or similar reasons may be able to access the checkpoint, but should check with their airline for required documentation.

 


Carriers add a bundle of new charges

Ask for a pillow and blanket to help get through a long flight and you may be out of luck. Or you may be able to buy a "comfort package" from Air Canada for $2.
 

Like to check your luggage curbside? That could cost up to $3 a bag. Airlines are starting to charge for many services that once were free -- such as assigned seating, paper tickets and blankets. Air travelers who don't fly often may be in for some unpleasant surprises when they reach the airport this summer.

 

Intense competition from low-fare airlines along with high jet-fuel prices have led many established carriers to cut back or charge passengers for amenities. Many airlines no longer serve meals on flights, instead charging for snack boxes and sandwiches. Air Canada, which recently emerged from bankruptcy, decided against eliminating pillows and blankets, as some airlines have done. Instead, the airline decided to give passengers the choice of buying an inflatable pillow and a light fleece blanket for $2.00.

 

There are limits to what passengers will pay for. American Eagle, which flies commuter flights for American, experimented in January with charging passengers for soft drinks. They evaluated customer response, the customer response was, 'No, we don't want to pay $1 for a soft drink."' The test ended.

Some services once taken for granted are now viewed as amenities as the burden of ticketing now falls on the passenger with the home computer instead of airline employees. Talking to an airline reservation agent instead of booking a ticket on the Internet will add $5 or $10 to the price of a ticket. A paper ticket instead of a computer-generated one will cost $20 or $30 for a domestic flight.

 

Passengers are also finding that the limits on baggage size and weight are lower, and that airlines are enforcing them. For most airlines, passengers are charged at least $25 for a bag that weighs more than 50 pounds. A third checked bag will cost $80 on many airlines. Some airlines are now even charging to reserve seats with extra legroom. United Airlines charges $24-$99 to sit in the Economy Plus section, which has five extra inches of leg room. Some international carriers also charge for aisle or bulkhead seats. Northwest Airlines in March began charging $15 for exit rows and some forward aisle seats.

 

The a la carte pricing approach is working for Southwest, which carried more people in the U.S. than any other airline. With the exception of overweight and oversize bags, Southwest doesn't charge for its services.

A soft drink, a bag of pretzels and a changed ticket don't cost extra. But Southwest doesn't offer services such as assigned seating or keeping an eye on an unaccompanied child who's making a connection.

Continental Airlines is one of the few that still offers hot meals on domestic flights.

NEW AIRLINE CHARGES

Among the items that some airlines are charging for:

Paper ticket vs. e-ticket (domestic, $20-$30; international, $50)

Telephone reservations by airline ($5-$10)

Changing a seat once booked (low-cost carriers, $25-$50; traditional airlines, $50)

Assigned seating ($10 per flight leg)

Fees for exit row, bulkhead, or aisle/window seating ($15 trial this summer)

Booking travel using frequent flyer award miles/points ($10-$50)

Switching a ticket to standby status ($25-plus)

Unaccompanied minor child ($40-plus each way)

Overweight bags ($25-$50 for any bag over 50 lbs.)

Extra bags ($40-$80 per bag beyond two checked per person)

Curbside check-in of bags ($2-$3 per bag)

Checked bags ($4-$7 per bag on international flights)

Food on board flights ($5-$10 per meal)

Soda ($1)

Snacks ($1)

Blankets ($1)

Pillows ($1)

Headsets ($1-$5)

In-cabin pets (under seat, $50-$100 each way)

 


10 Travel Tips From Savvy Business Travelers

It only takes a few extra minutes and a little forethought to make your business trip more productive and comfortable. But unless you travel a lot, you probably haven’t discovered some of the ways to improve your trips.

These ten tips will turn you into a seasoned business traveler.

1. Consider alternative airports. Fly into an airport that’s just outside of your destination city. Typically, you’ll experience fewer delays and overbooked flights if you avoid a city’s main hub.

2. Charge your equipment. In airport waiting areas, check the wall space directly under the windows overlooking the tarmac and near support beams: It’s often equipped with electrical outlets. You can recharge your laptop and cell phone batteries while you’re waiting for your flight.

3. Become a frequent flyer. Concentrate your air mileage with one carrier to earn elite status and enjoy the perks that come with it: early boarding, seat upgrades and prime positions on standby lists.

4. Know where you’re going. Before your trip, go to Yahoo or CitySearch for maps and driving instructions. Tuck them in your briefcase for a fast getaway.

5. Choose an aisle or window seat. On an airplane, don’t sit in the seat in middle of the row if you want to use your laptop — you won’t have enough elbowroom.

6. Bring a cell phone headset. Driving in an unfamiliar city can be complicated. A cell phone headset will keep your hands free while you check in with the office.

7.Test your dialup connection. Dial into your corporate network before you leave to make sure you’ll be able to remotely access email and network files.

8. Stay at hotels that cater to business travelers. Hotels that have fax service and rooms with Internet access make it easier to work when you’re on the road.

9. Make copies of your passport. For international travel, always bring two Photostat copies of your passport and three extra passport photos. It prevents you from turning over your passport to customs officials for photocopying and simplifies visa application.

10.Carry an international driver’s license. Police officers who don’t speak English are far more likely to recognize this document than a state driver’s license.


 Travel Scams and How to Avoid Them-Part 2

Safety While On The Go

Tourists make tempting targets for thieves and hustlers because they often carry expensive cameras, jewelry, and large amounts of cash. Worse, travelers often find themselves in unfamiliar territory where they are frequently lost or confused or simply preoccupied with seeing the sights. Here are some popular scams- and how to avoid them (but remember that your best protection is to be prepared for anything).

  1. Avoid hucksters who approach you near the airport baggage area and offer a cut-rate cab ride to your hotel. At best, you'll pay a wildly inflated price for a roundabout journey. Instead, head for the official taxi stand outside.
  2. When you check in at a hotel and the front-desk clerk announced your room number within earshot of others, demand a different room. Otherwise you may find yourself prey to a thief or worse.
  3. Watch out for "shoulder surfers," who hang around public telephones. They'll steal your calling-card number when you punch it into the keypad. Block their view, and cup your hand around the keypad. Be equally cautious about speaking the numbers out loud to an operator.
  4. While walking, stay alert to diversionary tactics used by a pickpocket or thief. One popular routine involves a stranger's throwing garbage at you or squirting you with mustard. While a second person rushes to help you, a thief unnoticed, may relieve you of your belongings.
  5. Beware of accidents used to collect insurance money. One or more cars may cut you off or stop suddenly in front of you and cause the accident. They other driver will blame you for injuring him and his car. Later his insurance will claim more injury or more serious vehicle damage than you observed. Keep detailed notes.

 

Remember: Without a travel agent you're on your own
 
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