Beyond delays, cancellations, and lost luggage, which are covered by most major credit cards, you might want to insure an expensive trip with a policy that includes provisions for emergency medical evacuation and cancellation for any reason. InsureMyTrip.com is a convenient resource for comparing travel insurance plans from major providers.
Hate airplane food, but afraid you’ll miss boarding while waiting in a line at an airport restaurant? Use the Grab app to pre-order and pay for items at participating restaurants and vendors at over 30 airports in the U.S. and U.K. Place your order on your ride to the airport and pick it up on your way to the gate without breaking stride.
Due to fears of onboard fires, airlines have instituted smart luggage battery bans since January 2018. If your bag has a battery pack, be prepared to show that it is removable in case your bag has to be gate-checked. But don’t leave that battery pack at home, necessarily. Just because your airplane seat is supposed to have power ports does not guarantee that they’ll actually work when you’re on the plane.
Phone: check. Laptop: check. Tablet: check. Camera: check. Spare charger: check. Power cords: check. Travelers are carrying more electronics than ever. Luckily, there are organizer cases galore to keep all your devices and cables within reach and ready for security screening.
Sighting a new revenue source, many airlines have instituted strict size limits for carry-on bags, which are stringently enforced by eagle-eyed gate agents. Check your bag’s dimensions at home and make sure they adhere to your airline’s limits. Keep in mind that European carriers’ limits vary slightly from those in the U.S. Blame it on standard versus metric.
Unless you’re checking a bag, there’s no reason to queue up at the check-in desk or deal with a fingerprint-smudged kiosk at the airport. Download your airline’s app ahead of time, make sure your reservation details are in, and then use it to check-in. That way, you can head straight to security when you arrive at the airport. Delta’s app will even check you in automatically 24 hours in advance of your flight. Several airlines, including Alaska and Southwest, now offer free onboard entertainment via passengers’ personal devices through their apps, so you should have them on your phone anyway.
Don’t fly enough to earn elite status? Airline credit cards like the United Explorer and American’s Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select offer cardholders perks similar to elites, including free checked bags and priority boarding. Carrying one of these cards can save you money on luggage and ensure you’ll find carry-on space in the overhead bins ahead of the crowd.
Speaking of airline status, if you are going for gold (or silver, or platinum) this year, make sure your frequent-flier number is attached to all your airline reservations. Even if you’re not flying your usual carriers, chances are the airline you’re on is partners with another you fly more frequently thanks to alliances. That way, you can earn airline miles toward status on every single flight you take.
Seats and amenities can vary dramatically, even from plane to plane within a single family of jets in a particular airline’s fleet. Once you settle on an airline, double check the aircraft type and seat map on the carrier’s site to make sure you’re flying the plane you want. After all, you don’t want to think you’re booking one of Qatar Airways’ QSuites only to end up with a random recliner.
Whether you like a window or an aisle, it’s worth checking SeatGuru‘s detailed seat maps to confirm your chosen place on the plane won’t be too close to the galley or the lavatories, with their associated noises (and smells!).