Air Travel in the Age of Anxiety – Tips For Flying in Turbulent Times

It has been a long time since flying was considered glamorous; today, travelers are happy when their trips are merely tedious. Long waits, armed guards, and increased security are making business travel more challenging than ever. What can you do to cope with the changes? These tips will help:

– Arrive early. You’ve heard that repeatedly, and it’s true. Of course, if you’re lucky enough to sail through security, you’ll end up waiting at the gate, but that’s better than missing your flight because of a delay at a checkpoint. The standard is two hours prior to the departure of a domestic flight and three hours for international flights–more if you’re traveling with infants, small children or persons with disabilities, and less if you’re departing from a smaller airport or at a time when the airport isn’t busy.

– Avoid the busy times. Typically, early Monday and late Friday flights are the fullest, and that means long lines at security checkpoints. If possible, travel during the middle of the week. If you must travel on Mondays or Fridays, choose flights scheduled for a mid-day departure.

– Carry cash. Keep at least $25 in small bills handy, so you’ll have cash for tips, cab fare or a cup of coffee or snack without having to use a credit card.

– Follow instructions. You’ll move through the checkpoints faster if you politely and promptly obey all reasonable requests from police, airport security and airline personnel.

– Don’t leave your luggage unattended, even briefly. You may return to find that airport security has confiscated your bags.

– Avoid wearing excessive metal jewelry or accessories that might trigger the metal detector. Also, remember to remove your keys from your pockets before passing through the detector. Failure to clear the detector in two tries could make you subject to search.

– Double-check what you’ve packed. If you travel frequently and use the same luggage, review the contents before each trip. Don’t get caught with a forbidden item in your carry-on because you took that bag on a road trip last week and didn’t completely unpack it.

– Carry two forms of photo identification, with at least one that was issued by a state or federal agency. When booking your ticket, use the exact name on that ID. Keep your ID handy, either in a convenient pocket or even around your neck on an ID badge holder, so you can show it quickly and easily when asked.

– Travel light. If you can, use only carry-on luggage, so you don’t have to deal with checked bags should you be rerouted or your flight is canceled. Of course, check with the airline to determine its requirements for carry-on bags and don’t attempt to take more than is allowed.

– Pack with the assumption that your luggage will be hand-searched. Layer clothes neatly, even on the trip home when you might be inclined to simply wad up dirty garments. Use clear zip-lock bags and pouches for smaller items so they can be easily examined.

– Protect your electronic possessions. Inscribe your name on your laptop, cell phone, camera, and other electronics in case they are accidentally left at a security checkpoint. Place these types of items in a plastic bin before sending them through the x-ray machine. Be sure batteries are fresh so you can turn the item on if asked.

– Be prepared for flight cancellations. Though the airline will usually (but not always) try to help, it’s best if you know your options. Can you take a different route? Or a different airline? What about ground transportation? Use a travel agent who will work with you in such situations, and call him or her immediately if your flight is canceled. Be sure you have a 24-hour supply of toiletries, medications and other essentials in your carry-on luggage. And have a plan for alerting anyone at your destination who needs to know about the flight change.

– Wait productively. There’s no way to avoid waiting in airports, especially these days. But you can avoid wasting that time. Bring work with you. If that’s not possible, bring those professional journals you’re behind on to read. Keep a supply of note cards in your briefcase and write some personal notes to clients, colleagues or friends. Read a novel–a little escapism is a great stress-reducer. Strike up conversations with your fellow passengers, but keep the tone positive. This can be a great opportunity for networking, so don’t dwell on the negative aspects of the situation. Be sure to pass out business cards when appropriate. If you’re going to make calls on your cell phone, step away from the crowd so you don’t distract others with your half of a telephone conversation.

Tighter airport security measures may cost you time, but they have been implemented for the safety of everyone. A primary reason for delays at security checkpoints is people who ignore or try to circumvent the rules, or who become belligerent with security or airline personnel, so avoid being part of the problem. There’s not much you can do about the increase in time air travel requires, but being gracious, cheerful and cooperative will make the process smoother and more pleasant.

Easy Ideas That Get Cheaper Air Fares

Finding cheaper air fares is a bit like looking for the Holy Grail – pretty much impossible, because the reality is that the cheapest air fare ticket doesn’t actually exist, per se. What do I mean by this? There are so many permutations to getting cheap domestic flights or cheap international flights – such as the route, different airlines, travel class, seating, travel dates and times, etc, – especially on international flights – that no travel agency or airline could actually guarantee that you are getting the absolute cheapest air fares.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be searching for the cheapest air fares but rather cheaper air fares that meet your own travel requirements in terms of time, convenience, comfort, etc. In other words, once you are fairly satisfied with a flight ticket, it’s best to book and pay for it immediately rather than wasting time searching for something that might only save you a few dollars extra – bearing in mind that if you can’t find it cheaper, your original deal might now have been snapped up by someone else.

Ideally, if you regularly use a trusted travel agent for booking your travel and vacations you can give them details of what you want and trust them to show you the lowest air fare currently available for the flight criteria you specify. If you don’t benefit from access to a trusted and reliable travel agent here are my Easy Ideas To Get Cheaper Air Fares:

Purchase your ticket as soon as possible – Fares often start increasing 21 days before the flight. The earlier you reserve your flight, the better chance you have of finding a cheaper air fare. Try booking on a Tuesday or Wednesday to benefit from increased pricing competition.

Buy a round-trip ticket, and travel using one airline – Round-trip tickets are usually cheaper than one-way tickets, and it is often cheaper to reserve all legs of your trip on a single airline, rather than a combination of several airlines.

Stay over a Saturday night – Itineraries that include a Saturday-night stay are sometimes much cheaper than mid-week trips. If you plan to return on a Saturday, think about delaying your return to the Sunday and see if the fare comes down.

Choose an inconvenient flight time – Try different times of the night or day on different dates for the flight. Mid-morning and late-afternoon flights are often crowded, so try specifying flights leaving very early in the morning or very late at night to see if cheaper air fares are available. Flying on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday can sometimes be cheaper because these are less-popular days to fly on some routes.

Avoid traveling on or during holiday periods – It’s sad but it’s true that during holiday periods it’s difficult to find cheaper airfares. Try to schedule flights on less-popular days, E.g avoid travel over Christmas or Thanksgiving by considering traveling on the days preceding or following these dates.

Use an alternative airport – Try using alternative airports near your intended destination to see if cheaper fares are available for another airport. E.g In the UK fares into London Stanstead are often cheaper than flying into London Heathrow or Gatwick.

Make use of promotions and sales – Get in immediately when promotions are announced online because the cheapest flights will sell quickly. Sign up for airline newsletters and travel alerts or join organisations that offer discounts on certain air lines.

Top Tip In Australia, some of the best last minute flight deals can be found on cheap domestic flights where Jetstar have a weekly “Fare Frenzy” 4pm to 8pm every Friday and Virgin Blue have their daily “Happy Hour” at noon. Whilst not an exhaustive list of tips to snare you the cheapest air fare, using the methods above will undoubtedly save you a lot of money on your next flight.

Remember, that different airlines follow different fare rules, and so these guidelines may not apply to every itinerary but try one or more of the tips above and see if you can locate a better fare. Don’t give yourself a coronary by spending hours looking for the absolute cheapest air fare bar none – it’s not out there. It’s far better to have an idea of your budget and travel requirements and then book the cheaper air fare that comes closest to meeting them.

India Air Travel

A lot of people shirk international travel due to expensive airfares. However nowadays, there are several discount round-trip flights to India. So, if you are planning to fly overseas, ensure that you get a good deal when you book the flight ticket. If exhaustive traveling to different cities is a part of the itinerary, it is advisable to avail yourself of an Airpass, which reduces the price down to a fraction of the actual cost.

Prime Travels offers bargain airfares. Their unbeatable tariffs include Washington-Delhi/Mumbai-Washington for $799, plus taxes; Vancouver-Delhi-Vancouver for INR $38,500 plus taxes; San Francisco-Bangalore-San Francisco for $990 plus taxes; London-Mumbai-London GBP290 plus taxes; Los Angeles-Mumbai-Los Angeles for $890 plus taxes; Boston-Hyderabad-Boston for $999 plus taxes; Seattle-Mumbai-Seattle for $999 plus taxes; Newark-Ahmedabad-Newark for $1,070 plus taxes; Phoenix-Chennai-Phoenix for $1,090 plus taxes; and Houston-Cochin-Houston for $1,090 plus taxes.

If calling from the US, dial 201-255-3078 (1 a.m-5p.m.EST, Mon-Fri) for information.

Globe Travels offers a good discount too. Fly from Los Angeles to Bombay/Delhi/Bangalore/Madras or Hyderabad for a round-trip fare at approximately $799. However, travel should commence before April 30, 2006; the offer is valid for flights via Kuala Lumpur on Air India and Malaysian Airlines; the last date to buy a ticket is March 24, 2006, and tickets should be purchased the same day as the reservation.

Email: [email protected]

If you have extensive traveling within India on your itinerary, avail yourself of the Discover India airfares. Similar to VUSA fares in the US, Indian Airlines and Jet Airways offer excellent bargains; their Airpasses are created for foreigners and non-resident Indians. A fifteen-day Airpass comes at $500 while a twenty-one-day Airpass is priced at $750. The routing is: Delhi-Jaipur-Udaipur-Bombay-Goa-Bangalore-Cochin-Madras-Delhi. The traveler saves on expenditures and pays only a fraction of what he or she would be required to pay for extensive travel within India if booked individually.

Jet Airways of India INC, 2301 Camino Ramon Suite 140, San Ramon, CA 94583; Tel: 001 925 8661205, 001-866 U-FLY-JET; Fax: 001 925 8309771; Email: [email protected]. Indian Airlines, Toll Free No.: 1-866 I FLY IAC (435 9422); New York GSA, Tel: 866-435-9422; Fax: 212-279-6602; Email: [email protected].