Welcome to the September 2009 issue of "Smart Traveler". The newsletter with tips and information to help make your traveling smoother.
On your next trip, make your cell phone work for you. Cell phones, which traditionally operate as communication tools, are fast becoming a widely used interface for online information as well.
You've probably seen people typing away on their complicated,
expensive mobile devices -- you know, the kinds of phones that take
pictures, send e-mail and can communicate with animals. But
travelers don't need to purchase an expensive iPhone or BlackBerry
to use their cell phones for something other than gossip exchange.
Several big airlines this week have added $10 surcharges for most of their tickets for travel on three busy days around
The bottom line this year for consumers is that it's pretty clear that if you procrastinate on your holiday travel, you're going to get stung.
With fuel surcharges, baggage fees and rising ticket costs, flying employees around the globe is more expensive than ever. American Express Business Travel has cash-saving tips for companies and road warriors:
• Confirm travel plans before booking; airlines often charge $150 or more for flight changes.
• Check as few bags as possible: Overnight delivery of presentation materials may be more cost-effective than checking an extra bag.
• Keep passports up to date and make sure you have all required visas for foreign travel.
• Check flights to all airports in a region, not just the one closest to your final destination.
• Coordinate car service or taxis to save on expense costs if several employees are traveling to the same place at the same time. Some companies now require traveling workers to share hotel rooms.
• Book flights for the lowest fares. American Express advises staying on top of hotel and airfare prices: If you see a price lower than the one you paid, ask for a discount.
• Extend a midweek trip over a weekend to cut down on airfare costs.
• Choose "offseason" destinations if the location is up to you — for instance, a group meeting in Las Vegas during the summer.
Make your next airplane trip a much more enjoyable experience by following these simple tricks.
Ever get thirsty during your flight and wished you didn't have to wait an hour or so for the beverage cart to come down the aisle?You may not have realized you could bring a bottled drink onboard. You can – your best bet is to buy it after you go through security. Screeners limit the size of liquids you can bring through checkpoints.
That's just one of many options passengers may not know they have to make their air travel experience more comfortable.
Here are some others you should know about.
1. Airport VIP lounges are not restricted to members. Several airlines offer one-day or monthly passes. Delta Air Lines charges $50 for a one-day pass. If your flight is delayed and you have a long wait, check out one of the lounges, which offer a comfortable atmosphere, Internet access, drinks and snacks.
2. Don't fret the annoying checked-bag fee when bringing strollers and infant car seats. Airline personnel will put those items on the plane for you for free when you get to your gate, and they will not count against your carry-on bag allowance. Always bring them with you when traveling, especially so you can push the little one through the terminal rather than have to carry him or her.
3. You don't have to pay big bucks to fly in business class. Several airlines offer deeply discounted rates on upgrades to business class on the day of travel if seats in the front cabin are still available. Members of airline frequent-flier programs can use miles or flight credits to upgrade from coach to business class.
4. You don't have to pay big bucks to fly, period. The best time to shop for domestic tickets is Tuesday afternoon because airlines typically file sales on Monday evening and other airlines match them through noon on Tuesday. Be wary of shopping on the weekends, Most discounted airfares expire or are removed from the reservation systems on Friday, leaving higher prices in the system over the weekend."
5. Don't worry about printing out your boarding pass at home. At some airports and with some airlines, travelers with Web-enabled mobile devices like a BlackBerry or iPhone can download their boarding passes, then hand over the devices for scanning by federal security screeners and airline gate agents. Continental Airlines offers the mobile boarding pass option at 28 airports, including ones in Houston and Newark, N.J. Even if that isn't available at your airport or with your airline, at many airports you can print out your boarding pass quickly at a self-service kiosk in the terminal. You can generally find out from your airline's Web site if it offers the mobile boarding pass option and at which airports the carrier offers self-service kiosks. AirTran Airways says all of its ticket counters have self-service kiosks for printing boarding passes.
6. Traveling doesn't have to be a hassle. If you fly at off-peak times like in the early morning hours or on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Saturdays, flights are less full, and often the lines at security are much shorter. At the right time of day there are no lines at all, and many smaller airports are rarely congested.
7. Speeding through security is easy if you pack certain items in your carry-on bags before reaching a checkpoint. Alaska Airlines' in-flight training manager stores his belt and small wallet in his briefcase. According to the airline, he no longer carries a laptop, just memory sticks. Often, he does not even need a tub when traveling without liquids; he stores metal items in his briefcase.
8. If you've ever wondered how close you are to
your destination or how long the security line is at your airport,
you don't have to be in the dark. You can track your flight online
by entering the flight number at flightaware.com. Several airlines
offer Wi-Fi on some or all of their flights. As for security wait
times, the world's busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta
International Airport, posts that information on its Web site and
updates it regularly.
Remember: Without a travel agent you're on your own.
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