Welcome to the "The Smart Traveler". Your March 2006 newsletter with tips and information to help make your traveling smoother.
Prepare For Takeoff -Part 2
Tips On Dressing
There are restrictions on what you can pack in your carry-on and
checked baggage. All of your baggage will be screened and possibly
hand-searched as part of the security measures. This inspection
may include emptying most or all of the articles in your bag. Here
you will find tips to help you pack.
Carry-on baggage is a small piece of luggage you take onboard
the airplane with you. You are allowed one carry-on in addition
to one personal item such as a laptop computer, purse, small
backpack, briefcase, or camera case.
screen any "Carry-on" baggage that will fit through the x-ray
machine, however, it is up to each individual air carrier as
to whether the baggage fits the size restrictions for your
flight. Please check with the air carrier prior to proceeding
through the security checkpoints.
Tape a business card or other identifying information beneath
your laptop to avoid loss or the accidental "exchange" by
is luggage you check in at the ticket counter or at curbside.
It will not be accessible during your flight. Please refrain
from locking your checked baggage. If your baggage alarms
and TSA cannot gain access to your checked bag, the
lock may be broken.
DO NOT pack the following items in
your checked baggage:
items (no matter how they are protected)
Below are a number of
packing your checked baggage that will help to speed
your trip and ensure that your checked bag makes the flight with
film in your checked baggage, as the screening equipment will
boots, sneakers, and other footwear on top of other contents
in your luggage.
over-packing your bag so that the screener will be able to
easily reseal your bag if it is opened for inspection. If
possible, spread your contents over several bags. Check with
your airline or travel agent for maximum weight limitations.
packing food and drink items in checked baggage.
piles of books or documents on top of each other; spread them
out within your baggage.
The following general packing
tips apply to both
carry-on and checked baggage and will
help you to move through the screening process more quickly:
Do NOT pack
or bring prohibited items to the airport.
See permitted and prohibited items.
undeveloped film and cameras with film in your carry-on
baggage. If your bag will pass through the X-ray machine more
than 5 times ask for a hand inspection to prevent damage.
of time with your airline or travel agent to determine the
airline's baggage policy, including number of pieces you can
bring and size and weight limitations.
baggage is limited to one carry-on bag plus one personal item.
Personal items include laptops, purses, small backpacks,
briefcases, or camera cases. Remember, 1+1.
forget to place identification tags with your name, address
and phone number on all of your baggage, including your laptop
computer. It is a good idea to place an identification tag
inside your baggage as well.
overpacking so that your articles don't spill out if your bag
is opened for inspection.
carefully about the personal items you place in your carry-on
baggage. The screeners may have to open your bag and examine
putting personal belongings in clear plastic bags to reduce
the chance that a TSA screener will have to handle them.
wrap your gifts. Be aware that wrapped gifts may need to be
opened for inspection. This applies to both carry-on and
Next month Part 3 will be "Access
A new test program by the U.S. Transportation Security
Administration (TSA) may eliminate excessive airport security waits
and make flying even safer.
The “Registered Traveler” pilot program asks
volunteer frequent fliers to provide their names, addresses, phone
numbers and dates of birth, along with biometric information, such
as fingerprints and iris scans. The TSA then conducts a security
Once the volunteer successfully passes the
screening, he or she can avoid the more extensive secondary
screening travelers often face at airport security check-points. The
volunteers will, however, still be required to go through primary
screening (identification check and scan of carry-on baggage) before
boarding a flight.
Participation in the program is free and open to
approximately 2,000 travelers at five test airports.
HOW TO AVOID SUMMER TRAVEL HEADACHES
It's that time of year again - the summer travel season. The time
when that occasional empty seat next to you will surely be filled;
most likely by a precocious four year-old who wants to play with
your laptop! It's a time when unhurried summer travelers take their
time checking-in at your usually efficient business hotel. And when
your favorite "unknown" on-the-road restaurant now has an hour wait
for a table.
So other than simply staying home, how do you avoid the headaches of
summer season travel ?
Airline elite frequent flyers usually have a block of seats set
aside at the front of the coach cabin, and of course have the
opportunity to upgrade to first class (although the upgrade
competition is pretty stiff). In either case, the precocious kid is
probably not going to be in your row. There's often separate lines
at ticket counters for the elite flyers, so you avoid the long lines
of inexperienced leisure travelers who generally take longer to
check-in and check luggage. And pre-boarding for elite members gives
you the opportunity to stow your carry-on overhead. Invariably
during the summer, there's not enough room, so the last people on
the plane are usually forced to check their larger bags. If you are
close to qualifying for elite status on your favorite airline, by
all means make the effort to qualify now. If you're not sure, check
out the rules of your frequent flyer program and see.
Express Check-Out and Frequent Stay Programs
There's nothing worse than trying to check-in or out of a hotel and
find that you are in line behind a busload from the Fraternal Order
of Procrastinators! During most of the year they wouldn't be in your
business hotel, but during the summer there is less business travel,
and hotels make it attractive for leisure travel groups to stay in
order to fill those rooms. And you end up waiting. And waiting. And
By all means, use the express check-out from your room. That way,
there is no stop at the front desk upon departure. And many frequent
stay programs have separate check-in lines for members. If you're
not a member, sign up before you go so that you can avoid the
Give yourself a Culinary Treat
Lets face it. Given the choice between a first-class restaurant and
fast food, families with kids will choose the latter. And many
leisure travelers eat in restaurants near their hotel, or near the
tourist destinations. To avoid the crowds, and maybe find an
undiscovered culinary gem, try out that upscale restaurant that's
not located in the tourist and hotel areas, and which is a bit
beyond the budget of a cost conscious leisure traveler.
Preferred Renter Programs
Just as elite programs and hotel guest programs can get you out of
the crowd, so can the preferred levels of frequent auto renter
programs. Many of these programs let you avoid the check-in counter
all together, or give you a special automated kiosk where you can
Avoid Hubs and Afternoons
Often easier said than done. But with airlines flying many new
non-stop routes, the chance to avoid changing planes at a hub is
somewhat better than before. The normal sea of humanity at hubs
becomes an ocean of travelers in the summer. Many of whom wander
uncertainly, trying to figure out where they need to go.
There does not seem to be a "best time" to travel during the summer.
But there is a time to avoid if you can. The afternoon. Not only is
that the most popular time of day for both leisure and business
travelers, but it is also the time when summer thunderstorms are
most likely to pop up and interrupt air travel. And when service is
interrupted, and planes are full, the result is predictable chaos.
Follow these simple guidelines and you'll lessen the stress of
summer travel. Now-if only that kid sitting behind you would
stop kicking the seat!
and How to Avoid Them-Part 1
travel services usually have to be paid for before they are
delivered. This creates opportunities for disreputable individuals
and companies. Some travel packages turn out to be very different
from what was presented or what the consumer expected. Some don't
materialize at all! If you receive an offer by phone or mail for a
free or extremely low-priced vacation trip to a popular destination
(often Hawaii or Florida), there are a few things you should look
encounter any of these signs, proceed cautiously. Ask for written
information to be sent to you; any legitimate travel company will be
happy to oblige. If they don't have a brochure, ask for a day or two
to think it over; most bona fide deals that are good today will
still be good two days from now. If they say no to both requests,
this probably isn't the trip for you.
- Does the price seem too good to be true? If so, it probably is.
- Are you asked to give your credit card number over the phone?
- Are you pressured to make an immediate decision?
- Is the carrier simply identified as "a major airline," or does
the representative offer a collection of airlines without being
able to say which one you will be on?
- Is the representative unable or unwilling to give you a street
address for the company?
- Are you told you can't leave for at least two months? (The
deadline for disputing a credit card charge is 60 days, and most
scam artists know this.)
other advice: If you are told that you've won a free vacation, ask
if you have to buy something else in order to get it. Some packages
have promoted free air fare, as long as you buy expensive hotel
arrangements. Others include a free hotel stay, but no air fare.
you are seriously considering the vacation offer and are confident
you have established the full price you will pay, compare the offer
to what you might obtain elsewhere. Frequently, the appeal of free
air fare or free accommodations disguises the fact that the total
price is still higher than that of a regular package tour.
a confirmed departure date, in writing, before you pay anything. Eye
skeptically any promises that an acceptable date will be arranged
later. If the package involves standby or waitlist travel, or a
reservation that can only be provided much later, ask if your
payment is refundable if you want to cancel, and don't pay any money
you can't afford to lose.
the destination is a beach resort, ask the seller how far the hotel
is from the beach. Then ask the hotel.
the complete cost of the trip in dollars, including all service
charges, taxes, processing fees, etc. If you decide to buy the trip
after checking it out, paying by credit card gives you certain legal
rights to pursue a chargeback (credit) if promised services aren't