It’s the time of year when people who don’t travel much suddenly have to hit the road. So what are the best travel tips from people who travel all the time?
I put that question to dozens of experienced business travelers, as well as people who make their living planning travel for clients. Here are the top travel tips they suggested.
1. Bring something for the flight crew.
Peter Shankman calls this his $8 Flight Upgrade Trick–bringing a big bag of candy, so you have something nice to share with the flight attendants. Seriously, what other passenger does this? Thanks to Karl Sakas, of Sakas & Company, for reminding me of this one. He says he’s done it on every flight for over a year.
“It puts everyone in a better mood, especially amidst delayed flights and packed planes,” Sakas said.
2. Check business and economy plus.
If you’re on a budget, you probably only search for coach class flights. Usually, that makes sense, but during the holidays, there might be fewer business travelers–which can occasionally drop the price of business and economy class seats.
“Certain times of year, or routes that are new or not performing well, airlines will sell upgraded seats for a song!” advises John Clifford, a professional travel advisor.
3. Check one-way fares, and combine them.
Round-trip tickets are the easiest to book–but they’re not always the least expensive, or even the most convenient.
“Consider purchasing two one-ways,” suggests Janet Alvarez, personal finance expert at Wise Bread, “since during busy holiday travel times it can pay to mix and match carriers and routes.”
4. Got a problem? Take it to Twitter.
If you don’t travel much, maybe you wouldn’t think to do this, but the days of calling customer service and waiting in line with the rest of the unwashed masses are gone.
“Missed a connection? Got bumped? Tweet at the airline for help. Most major carriers have customer service reps monitoring Twitter, so it’s a quick and easy way to reach out and get help for what you need,” suggests Emily Bernard, co-founder of PlacePass.
5. Sign up for frequent flyer programs–even if you never use them.
Maybe you’re not a frequent flyer, but you should still sign up for their programs when you travel. Even if your accrued mileage stands at zero, at least you’ll represent the possibility of future business, in the event you have an issue or a request.
“Business travelers can do what they can to gain any level of status with the airline. Even just having a frequent traveler number is better than not having one at all,” suggests Craig Fichtelberg, president of AmTrav Corporate Travel.