Get through the gate faster, make your flight more comfortable, find a killer room, and more.
Heading down a runway soon? Before you start packing, be sure to check out these insider travel tips. This isn't just another list of apps. This advice is designed to give you a leg up on the competition--namely, the guy in row 2B.
1. Delete your cookies. PR pro Shawna Bell told me about an interesting trick. It turns out many travel sites like Travelocity are tracking more than just your route to Cleveland. When you search for a flight to see a price, the site drops a cookie in your browser. Then, the next time you visit, they show you a higher price. Uh-oh--time to book before the rates go sky high. But it's a ruse. USA Today reported that you should delete cookies to find better rates.
2. Press 2 for Spanish. This is a clever way to save time--and book a flight faster. (It's also a bit dastardly, but you'll have to decide that on your own.) Scott Rogers, the President of Mercantile Mobile Marketing, says he travels frequently for work and often ends up in LAX with a delayed flight. You can book a new flight by calling the airline, but when prompted, hit two for Spanish. Rogers says most agents speak fluent English.
3. Arrange a pick-up at departures. Here's one I should have thought of on my own. Suzanne Garber, the Chief Networking Officer at International SOS, told me a neat trick is to arrange to be picked up when you arrive at the departures area. Everyone is fleeing inside the building. You can wait outside without the crowds. Usually, no other cars are waiting around for long.
4. Become a celebrity. Okay, so this one is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but hey--it might actually work. Peter Shankman, who runs the Help A Reporter site, says the TSA staff at the security gate will usually escort celebrities through the fast lane. If you make up a story about being in a photo shoot or play the part right, you might just be able to get through faster as well.
5. Get a good seat, then give it up. Garber told me about another admirable "trick." When you book your seat, try to get a really good one right in the front in the aisle. That means a quick exit, right? But, when you board, look for someone in the Armed Forces. Ask if he or she would like your seat instead. Garber says that not only will you feel good about the gesture, you're also likely to get a little perk: usually the attendants will offer you free food and drinks for the whole flight.
6. Book a real room. Many travelers already know about sites like Bizpora (formerly Start-up Stay), AirBnB, Servas, and Couchsurfing. They help you book a room in someone's home. But you might consider doing that for another reason besides the networking and the cost savings. Frequent traveler Shel Horowitz, the marketing strategist at GreenAndProfitable.com, says he books a room in a home because it makes the stay better. Without the hectic hotel jumping, you'll be better able to relax and de-compress.
7. Look for an airport hotel's security gate. Here's one that works wonders--I just used this trick in Detroit. Always look for an airport hotel that has its own security gate. The huddled masses often go to the main security check-in, but if you're dropped off at the airport hotel (meaning, one connected to the actual airport), you can speed on through quickly.