Travel Tips for Frequent Travelers
As I write this, I’m crammed into a tiny economy seat on a sold-out American Airlines flight because yesterday’s flight got cancelled and everything was pretty much sold out. As many frequent travelers know, and I’ve certainly been reminded over the years, there are huge differences between airlines, first class cabins, and airplanes. Below are my preferences and tips, based on my experiences so far:
Get Global Entry & TSA Pre: If you fly a lot, these will shave precious minutes off the time you have to spend in the airport. For $100 per 5 years (or, if you’ve got a Platinum AMEX, it’s $0), Global Entry allows you to skip customs on the US side (you use a quick touch-screen kiosk instead). Global Entry members are automatically eligible for TSA Pre at no additional fee, which lets you get through security much faster (no more taking your laptop out and your shoes off!)
Note: I got conditionally approved for Global Entry within a couple of weeks, but when I had to do my interview, the one Global Entry Manhattan location listed on the Global Entry website was booked up for three months. Butttt… I did some digging and found out that you can be interviewed at Newark or JFK within a couple of days. Call 718-553-1237 for JFK and 973-565-8000 ext 8135 for Newark, and have your Global Entry number handy.
Route Happy is my favorite way to book flights. The site aggregates other user’s reviews, flight length, seat size, plane age, amenities, Wi-Fi, etc, then rates available flights by a happiness score. Brilliant!
Seat Guru will tell you what the plane you’re considering booking a flight on will be like, and what seats you should choose.
The next time your flight gets cancelled or delayed, let AirHelp get you $$ compensation. The form takes 3 minutes to set up, they can get you up to $800, and they take a 25% commission. Refund.me seems to be European, takes 15% commission and says they can get you up to 600 Euros.
My three favorite airlines (I wish they flew more places):
1. Virgin: Their Economy Plus class is nicer than American Airline’s first class. Brand new swanky planes with personal TV’s in every seat (the interactive kind, where you can actually choose what you want to watch, and when), fun lighting, great service and good food that you can order through the TV on demand.
2. JetBlue Mint: A great new (relatively affordable) first-class service in new and clean planes, with lay-flat beds, single suites, nicer terminals, less delays, personal TVs and more.
3. Porter: If you’re flying to Toronto, Porter will fly you right into the city-center island airport, so you’ll skip the drive to downtown. The airline has a great lounge (with free drinks and snacks) that’s even better than the lounges that other airlines make you pay to enter. The downside is that they only fly to a few Canadian destinations and the planes are small and getting on the older side.
What have your airline experiences been like? Please share your tips! 🙂