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Business // Thinking Smart
David S. Chang

Top Tips To Simplify Air Travel

I travel plenty and average about a week a month on the Mainland and internationally. Living in an isolated chain of islands in the Pacific is sometimes not easy! Whether you travel frequently or only once in awhile, here are some tips to help make the trip more comfortable.

* TSA Pre-check. We are advised to arrive at the airport 60 minutes before a domestic flight and 90 minutes before an international flight. Imagine having to leave that early for a car road trip! One of the primary reasons is because of the TSA security lines. Since Sept. 11, 2001, airport security has increased significantly, where we have to take off our shoes, belts and jackets and go through inspections. If you join the TSA Pre-check program, you can avoid those long lines. The program allows low-risk travelers to experience faster, more efficient screening at more than 100 U.S. airports, including Honolulu. You don’t have to remove your belt, shoes, jacket and laptop from your carry-on. The lines and wait time are much shorter, saving time and patience! Visit tsa.gov for more information.

* Make a packing list. Pack appropriately (Check the weather!) and make sure you don’t overpack or underpack. Nothing bothers me more than having to buy something while traveling because I forgot it at home.

* Learn to carry on. With more airlines charging for checked-in luggage, it pays to pack well your carry-on. Put an extra set of clothes, toiletries, and a travel first aid kit (with any necessary medication) in your carry-on, in case the airline loses your luggage or can’t deliver it to you for another day.

* Pick one airline for mileage points. If you travel enough, pick one airline to go to for its elite status. When you hit a certain level, you will get priority check-in, priority boarding, free checked luggage, preferred seating and sometimes free upgrades! If you are a disciplined credit card user, some airline credit cards have great airline point benefits. One of my airline credit cards gives me business lounge access worldwide. Visit artofthinkingsmart.com to see how you can achieve elite status with airlines.

* Getting good airline prices. You can check sites such as airfarewatchdog.com and kayak.com to check on the best prices and set alerts to send you emails on the best deals. Visit artofthinkingsmart.com for the best timing to purchase tickets for the average lowest prices.

* Getting good airline seats. Timing also is important when it comes to avoiding bad seats, like the middle ones. Look for a new seat 48-24 hours before your flight. You can do this online or through the airline’s app. This is when airlines start upgrading their elite fliers and open up potentially good or preferred seats. Also, at the gate or check-in desk, ask to see how much it would cost to upgrade. You sometimes can get heavily discounted upgrades.

* Stop jetlag. The key is to get on the right schedule while in transit. Visit stopjetlag.com to sign up for a personalized plan based on your travel itinerary, which will give you an hourly schedule for meals, rest time and even sunlight exposure.

david@artofthinkingsmart.com

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