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Birdwatching
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The Real List Of Airline Travel Hacks

Sat Mar 21, 2015 1:40 pm

I saw this thread earlier today about some kid who published a list of highly questionable "travel hacks" such as buying a first class ticket to gain lounge access, then cancel it, or bitching around at the hotel check-in as long as it takes until the "weakest link" gives in and upgrades you for free. All of this is pathetic, such behavior really tells a lot about the people who would actually do this stuff.
Socialite Shares Controversial Travel Hacks (by n1805bn Mar 19 2015 in Civil Aviation)

So I thought about the real "travel hacks", things that the frequent fliers among us have learned over the decades and that make airline travel easier and better.

I'll start off with some of my favorites:

1) Always stow your overhead bin hand luggage in a row ahead of yours. Never behind you. After everyone gets up, it is impossible to go upstream. Plus it's much easier and less hassle to get up and start walking down the aisle without your hand luggage, then grab it on the way out.

2) Get picked up at departures. The original thread actually suggested it the other way around (be dropped off at arrivals), but that makes little to no sense. At almost all the airports in the world I've ever been to, departures is much nicer. Not only is it usually in daylight (while arrivals is a dark tunnel), it's not swamped with limo drivers and similar. So whenever I get picked up at the airport, I tell the person to pick me up at departures. Always works out well.

3) The middle seat trick: In a seating configuration with 3 seats in a block (like on most single aisle planes and on the larger Boeing widebodies), a party of 2 should reserve seats A and C towards the rear. If it's not fully booked, the middle seat is likely to remain vacant. If somebody does show up in the end, that person will probably not mind swapping the middle seat for the window or aisle seat.

Who wants to add to the list? I'm not looking for etiquette suggestions (like don't recline too long, give the arm rests to middle seat passenger, things like that) but actual things you can do to make your own travel better while not inconveniencing others.

Soren   
All the things you probably hate about travelling are warm reminders that I'm home
 
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LOWS
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RE: The Real List Of Airline Travel Hacks

Sat Mar 21, 2015 1:57 pm

Lufthansa will often check bags for long haul at the gate through to the destination, if you have two carry ons.

I always seem to go over the weight limit by a KG or so, taking gifts and things back, and so I always take what I can from my checked bag, move it to my second carry on and then politely ask if they'll be taking cabin bags for the hold. Even if they aren't, they often offer to take my second carry on and check it.

In the cabin, I keep my laptop and books/papers etc. and then check the less essential stuff.
 
LoneStarMike
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RE: The Real List Of Airline Travel Hacks

Sat Mar 21, 2015 2:55 pm

Quoting Birdwatching (Thread starter):
2) Get picked up at departures. The original thread actually suggested it the other way around (be dropped off at arrivals), but that makes little to no sense.

It actually does make sense, depending on what time of day you're departing. If you're leaving on a flight during the early morning rush hour, there can be a line of cars on the departure level (at my home airport that would be the upper level) and it takes awhile to reach the terminal. But at that early hour, there are very few (if any) arrivals, and the lower level is often devoid of cars, so you can just drive right up and take your time getting out of the car, without worrying about blocking other drivers.

The reverse is true if you arrive somewhere during the mid to late evening. At my home airport, there are very few departures after 8:00 p.m., but there's tons of arrivals between about 9:00 pm and 11:00 pm. That's when I tell people to pick me up on the departure level.

LoneStarMike
 
afcjets
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RE: The Real List Of Airline Travel Hacks

Sat Mar 21, 2015 3:19 pm

Quoting Birdwatching (Thread starter):
3) The middle seat trick: In a seating configuration with 3 seats in a block (like on most single aisle planes and on the larger Boeing widebodies), a party of 2 should reserve seats A and C towards the rear. If it's not fully booked, the middle seat is likely to remain vacant. If somebody does show up in the end, that person will probably not mind swapping the middle seat for the window or aisle seat.

Yup, another middle seat trick which is almost irrelevant today since almost all flights are full but back in the day when empty rows were not uncommon, when I would see one or if I was the only one sitting in my row, I would move to the center seat. After they shut the door, people would move, sometimes flight attendants would even make announcements we have finished boarding feel free to take any empty seat. It was always the rows with three people in them that would move and people woul look for a seat where they could sit at the window or aisle with an empty middle seat. By sitting in the middle, you make the whole row undesirable, as long as there are other rows where no more than one other person is sitting for them to choose from.
 
marktci
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RE: The Real List Of Airline Travel Hacks

Sat Mar 21, 2015 3:21 pm

I've used all three before. Also, if buying a seat solo in a 3-3 configuration, I try to choose a row with one person already in the aisle/window rather than a bank of three with no one else in it.

One small thing I do is to put all of my pocket items in a zippable coat/jacket pocket before security. After security, instead of pulling wallet, watch, phone, coins, etc from the bottom of the plastic bin, I can just grab the jacket and go.
 
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nighthawk
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RE: The Real List Of Airline Travel Hacks

Sat Mar 21, 2015 3:32 pm

Quoting marktci (Reply 4):
One small thing I do is to put all of my pocket items in a zippable coat/jacket pocket before security. After security, instead of pulling wallet, watch, phone, coins, etc from the bottom of the plastic bin, I can just grab the jacket and go.

I second this one! I almost always travel with a coat for just this reason - put everything in your coat pocket before security. By the time you get to the front, all you need to do is remove your coat, then pick it up again after security.

You could also put them in your bag if you have carry on.
 
rta
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RE: The Real List Of Airline Travel Hacks

Sat Mar 21, 2015 4:53 pm

Same here. I just try to stuff the things from my pockets into my coat or backpack before sending it through security.
 
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vhtje
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RE: The Real List Of Airline Travel Hacks

Sat Mar 21, 2015 5:01 pm

Goodness - so many tips:

1. Always keep your wallet, passport and boarding pass in the same place, every time. Make it a place that is easily and quickly accessible - be it an internal coat pocket, or, in my case, a external zip-able compartment in my computer bag, or ladies - in a handbag you reserve only for travel use. Once you have decided on your preferred location, never be tempted to put them anywhere else - you want them to be instantly accessible without you having to stop and think where you left them. As you travel to different airports and countries, you never know who is going to ask for your passport.
2. Never wear lace up shoes when travelling - comfortable slip-ons are a must
3. Wear woollen socks, not cotton or polyester. Woollen socks offer better protection from unpleasant foot odour
4. It's obvious, but don't wear clothes and accessories with extraneous metal - keep it to a minimum to keep those security lines moving. So no rockstar heavy boots, no cowboy belt buckles, keep jewellery simple.
5. Buy a pair of noise cancelling headsets. Best investment ever.
6. Don't overload yourself with cabin baggage, particularly on long-haul flights - keep it to a minimum of two bags. I take out items I don't need on the flight, like power cables, notepads, etc and put it all in my checked baggage - I carry only the items I need on the aircraft, plus items I am not checking for security reasons - so my bags contain only a fresh pair of socks and jocks, sleepwear, a spare jumper, my computer, headset, phone and iPad, and reading material. If I buy duty free (rare) then it goes in my cabin bag.
7. Conversely to 6, never put your car/house keys (or wallet) in checked luggage
8. Do not travel with food in your checked luggage. I know some food is allowed to be imported into some countries, but generally, it's a simpler life if you just don't have to bother with customs and quarantine upon arrival
9. Carry two pens, one blue, one black.
10. Scan your passport, visitor/residency visas (if applicable), driver's licence and credit cards and keep a copy of them somewhere secure in the cloud. Replacements are much easier to arrange if you can if you can produce copies.
11. Don't be rude to anybody. Remember to smile and greet airline staff pleasantly - e.g. upon boarding, don't bark your seat number to the crew when they wish you good morning, smile and wish them good morning back. Conversely, they do not want to hear your life story - a polite greeting and a smile is sufficient. When things go wrong as they invariably do, have the good grace to behave like a gentleman/lady. So the aircraft developed a technical fault and cannot fly. Yes, this is inconvenient, but it certainly isn't the flight attendant's fault, and being rude to him or her isn't going to achieve anything. Being loud and obnoxious does no one any favours.
I only turn left when boarding aircraft. Well, mostly. All right, sometimes. OH OKAY - rarely.
 
Birdwatching
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RE: The Real List Of Airline Travel Hacks

Sat Mar 21, 2015 5:17 pm

Quoting AFCJETS (Reply 3):
Yup, another middle seat trick which is almost irrelevant today since almost all flights are full

Not correct. Yes it's true in the USA, but the world doesn't end where your country ends. I've flown a lot in Asia and they fly around half empty widebodies all the time. This is not like the cramped 757s from Seattle to Hawaii or that transcontinental 737. In other parts of the world it is quite common to be in cabins that are not 100% full. But in the US, you are right, for most of the flights.

Soren   
All the things you probably hate about travelling are warm reminders that I'm home
 
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zululima
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RE: The Real List Of Airline Travel Hacks

Sun Mar 29, 2015 4:47 am

Quoting vhtje (Reply 7):

I think those are just travel tips, not hacks. Don't mean to be rude, but this thread will fill up quickly if we go down that road.
I didn't get a 'Harumph' outta that guy!
 
airshows
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RE: The Real List Of Airline Travel Hacks

Sun Mar 29, 2015 9:47 am

One travel hack I've used and have had some members of my circle of friends use is when you are traveling and the airline offers a econ+ or better product if you dress and have the hand luggage of a business traveler it is much easier and more effective and getting the "free" upgrade if there is space available. But one thing to know about this is sometimes it doesn't always work and when it doesn't don't act unprofessional just accept it as sometimes there are no shows at the gate and if you acted in an professional manner at the counter you still may get that upgrade. The only airline I know that this doesn't work on is WJA if you take the upgrade at the counter, gate, or once the doors are closed they still require you to pay for the upgrade to plus.
 
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fbgdavidson
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RE: The Real List Of Airline Travel Hacks

Mon Mar 30, 2015 3:45 am

Quoting Birdwatching (Thread starter):
1) Always stow your overhead bin hand luggage in a row ahead of yours. Never behind you. After everyone gets up, it is impossible to go upstream. Plus it's much easier and less hassle to get up and start walking down the aisle without your hand luggage, then grab it on the way out.

I like this but it isn't always possible. I do despise it when you find yourself awkwardly lingering in the seat hoping to either find someone who will pass the bag forward or let you walk back to get it.

It does really annoy me when people leave their bag above say row 2 and then walk back to row 34. That makes it pretty difficult for those boarding late in the first few rows.

Quoting Birdwatching (Thread starter):
2) Get picked up at departures. The original thread actually suggested it the other way around (be dropped off at arrivals), but that makes little to no sense. At almost all the airports in the world I've ever been to, departures is much nicer. Not only is it usually in daylight (while arrivals is a dark tunnel), it's not swamped with limo drivers and similar. So whenever I get picked up at the airport, I tell the person to pick me up at departures. Always works out well.

I have been doing this for years. My most used large airport for pickup, LHR T5, I always get my "pick up" to meet me at the end of the departures ramp where the First/Club World check-in is because it's the least busy part of the departures ramp by virtue of less passengers eligible to use those desks.
"My first job was selling doors, door to door, that's a tough job innit" - Bill Bailey
 
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redzeppelin
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RE: The Real List Of Airline Travel Hacks

Mon Mar 30, 2015 9:57 pm

Quoting Birdwatching (Thread starter):
Get picked up at departures.

At SLC (my former home airport), I always get picked up in the short term parking garage. There is a direct pedestrian bridge from the terminal, and there is actually a designated pick-up/drop-off zone there that is scarcely used. It's never crowded, it is somewhat protected from the weather, and you can see your ride coming from a long distance.

Quoting marktci (Reply 4):
One small thing I do is to put all of my pocket items in a zippable coat/jacket pocket before security.

Also one of my favorite tricks.
 
aloges
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RE: The Real List Of Airline Travel Hacks

Mon Mar 30, 2015 11:02 pm

My number one "hack" for those who pass through immigration and security checks in the US rather often: join Global Entry! The application process may be a hassle, but it ends many other hassles at the airport: no answering questions from CBP officials, no stamps filling up your passport faster than necessary and no unwarranted suspicions. You also save lots of time and you can pack more sensibly without having to take the locations of your liquids and laptop into account all the time. Oh, and that short connection from international to domestic which you never considered possible? Have a coffee on the way to the gate.
Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.
 
bgm
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RE: The Real List Of Airline Travel Hacks

Mon Mar 30, 2015 11:13 pm

Quoting aloges (Reply 13):
My number one "hack" for those who pass through immigration and security checks in the US rather often: join Global Entry! The application process may be a hassle, but it ends many other hassles at the airport: no answering questions from CBP officials, no stamps filling up your passport faster than necessary and no unwarranted suspicions. You also save lots of time and you can pack more sensibly without having to take the locations of your liquids and laptop into account all the time. Oh, and that short connection from international to domestic which you never considered possible? Have a coffee on the way to the gate.

I couldn't agree more! Global Entry/TSA Pre-check makes flying in the US a lot more tolerable.   
 
Viscount724
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RE: The Real List Of Airline Travel Hacks

Wed Apr 01, 2015 2:58 am

Quoting Birdwatching (Thread starter):
Always stow your overhead bin hand luggage in a row ahead of yours. Never behind you. After everyone gets up, it is impossible to go upstream. Plus it's much easier and less hassle to get up and start walking down the aisle without your hand luggage, then grab it on the way out.

If there's space in the bin above your seat I think it's rude and impolite to use another bin, and make it difficult for passengers in that row to find space for their carry-on. I see that happening all the time where a passenger dumps their carry-on as close to the front as possible even when they're among the first to board, to save having to lug it all the way to the back. I've seen a few flight attendants, when they see passengers doing that, tell them to take their carry-on to their own seat, but that's rare.

Of course if the bin over your seat is full you have no choice. I always choose an aisle seat and have found that even if you're bag is 2 or 3 rows behind your seat, if you get up quickly when the aircraft reaches the gate, you can get to your bag before the aisle is packed with other passengers. If it is, I just sit down and relax until the rest of the passengers have deplaned.
 
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PITingres
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RE: The Real List Of Airline Travel Hacks

Wed Apr 01, 2015 9:26 pm

Quoting bgm (Reply 14):
I couldn't agree more! Global Entry/TSA Pre-check makes flying in the US a lot more tolerable.

It certainly does! Just don't be fooled like I was (and apparently this is common) ... Global Entry includes TSA Pre-check. If you do pre-check first (and pay for it), and then think hey, global entry would be cool, don't imagine that you get your pre-check money back! Just do the Global Entry thing. The TSA website very carefully doesn't say anything about this.

Quoting vhtje (Reply 7):
9. Carry two pens, one blue, one black.

While I agree this is not a "hack", it's valuable advice. I traveled internationally for 4 years before nearly getting thrown out of Barbados for using the wrong color pen. (This is not to slam on Barbados generally, which is a lovely little country. It's to reinforce that any immigration officer anywhere can have a bad day; don't be the Cheerio being pissed on!)
Fly, you fools! Fly!
 
Airontario
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RE: The Real List Of Airline Travel Hacks

Thu Apr 02, 2015 12:34 am

Quoting PITingres (Reply 16):
Quoting vhtje (Reply 7):
9. Carry two pens, one blue, one black.

While I agree this is not a "hack", it's valuable advice. I traveled internationally for 4 years before nearly getting thrown out of Barbados for using the wrong color pen. (This is not to slam on Barbados generally, which is a lovely little country. It's to reinforce that any immigration officer anywhere can have a bad day; don't be the Cheerio being pissed on!)

I didn't know that anywhere cared what colour pen you used, as long as it was blue or black. I get not wanting to have red or pink or green, but what's the big deal between blue and black? Good to know for the future.

I'm always amazed how many people travel without a pen. Especially on international flights. I know there's no paperwork to get into the Schengen area, but almost everywhere else has some sort of form to fill out. Add on all the signatures you need to make at car rentals and hotels etc. it seems like a no brainer to bring a pen.
 
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PITingres
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RE: The Real List Of Airline Travel Hacks

Thu Apr 02, 2015 12:53 pm

Quoting Airontario (Reply 17):
I didn't know that anywhere cared what colour pen you used, as long as it was blue or black. I get not wanting to have red or pink or green, but what's the big deal between blue and black?

If an immigration official is having a bad day, and decides to take it out on you, they can make up pretty much any rules they like until a supervisor steps in and puts a stop to it. That's what happened to me.
Fly, you fools! Fly!

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