Planning Tips

Know the difference between “direct” and “nonstop” flights, and always opt for the latter. Unlike nonstop, direct flights can touch down at other airports on the way to their ultimate destinations, and while stops are built in to the total travel time, the potential delays they can cause aren’t.

Make sure you buy your ticket under the exact name that appears on your Passport/ID. It might seem obvious to you that Betsy is a nickname for Elizabeth, but it may not to a desk agent, or a security officer―any of whom could ask you to show ID with that name before boarding.

Select your seats ASAP. If you have a disability and need a premium seat in the bulkhead, tell the agent when you make your reservation rather than at the airport, Other passengers might be able to nab those seats 24 hours before the flight, when they’re made available to everyone through the airline’s website.

Get to your gateway city as early as you can. “Since delays stack up as the day progresses, it’s smart to book the first flight you can into a hub [if you have a connecting flight].”

Double-check foreign document requirements. Some countries―like Chile, and India―require a visa for entry; others won’t allow entrance unless a traveler’s passport contains at least two blank, unstamped pages. You need to be aware of such requirements before you make your flight reservations or you could get stuck. Click here for a complete list of entrance regulations.

 

Flying Tips

Bring a car seat for your child. “Car seats aren’t just safer for children,” notes Veda Shook, a flight attendant who has been with Alaska Airlines for 16 years. “They also help kids stay calmer, since they’re used to being in them.” Shook suggests investing in a car seat-stroller combination. “The seat slides right out of the stroller part, which you can check at the gate,” she says.

Corral your in-flight necessities. Blocking the aisle during boarding while you dig for gum, a book, or a snack can delay the entire plane. Pack small must-haves in a reseal able gallon-size bag that you can toss onto the seat while you put away everything else.

Stow your bag near your seat. “It’s tempting to toss your suitcase into the first empty space you see, but that slows down deplaning, as passengers who had to stow their bags near the back move downstream to collect their belongings,”

Call for help. If you’ve missed a connection, don’t stand in line to rebook with a gate agent. Instead, use your cell phone to call your travel agent. You may speak to someone faster, giving you a better shot at a seat on the next flight.

Get fed fast. To have dinner waiting in your hotel room when you arrive, call and order room service from the road. “It can save a hungry half hour,”

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