Are you planning to fly soon? From buying tickets to boarding a plane, it's a new world out there — and it pays to be smart. Increased security, fewer flights, earlier check-ins, luggage limitations: Even if you're not a fearful flyer, getting from point A to point B still can be stressful. Consider taking some of these smart steps the next time you fly.
Unless you have a complicated itinerary that requires the help of a human travel agent, it couldn't be easier to book a flight online using a major Web travel agent where you can compare prices (e.g. Kayak, Orbitz). If you have questions or prefer to book offline, choose a Web site that also offers 800-number service (Expedia, Travelocity). To save money on a flight when you have a flexible schedule, also check the online discounters (Hotwire, Priceline.) After you buy, you'll get an eTicket number, which is your purchase confirmation.
choose the best seats when you fly.
3. Print Out Your Boarding Pass Before You Leave HomeUse the check-in page on your airline's Web site, key in your eTicket code, and print a boarding pass from your home computer as long as 24 hours before take-off time. If you're traveling internationally, you will need to enter your passport info as well. The boarding pass bears your name, flight information, and a bar code the flight attendant scans at the gate. If you have luggage, you will still have to stand in line to deposit it before you go through security.
4. Hire a Car for Your Trip to the AirportParking at an airport can be expensive. And asking someone else to drive you there may be inconvenient. In many cities, mass transit is non-existent or impractical for someone with a suitcase. Although I can hail a taxi on the street where I live, I usually arrange for a private car the day before. The driver arrives a few minutes early in an immaculate black sedan and helps me with my luggage. It doesn't cost much more than a taxi and I am able to put the charge (which includes toll and tip) on my credit card, helpful for record-keeping.
5. Bring Something to Eat from HomeWith a few first-class exceptions, airline food always has been notoriously bad. Now it's worse. And fewer and fewer airlines are offering sustenance on shorter flights. That means you may get a free beverage and a small bag of pretzels, just a drink, or nothing at all when you fly. If your flight becomes delayed and you haven't eaten, that makes for discomfort. Consequently, airport vendors, from Starbucks to Burger King, are doing tremendous airport business. So much, in fact, that lines can be long and passengers risk missing a flight to acquire victuals, which can be low in nutritional value. The smart solution: Pack your own "care package" before you leave home.
luggage will arrive the same time you do. If it's a short trip, pare down to the bare essentials and just take a wheeled carry-on that meets your airline's onboard size and weight requirements.