7 Simple Tips for a Smoother Trip

It’s every traveler’s dream. You walk into the airport, stroll through security, and stride onto the plane, heading straight to your seat. There are no lines, no crowds, no waiting, no lost reservations, no wondering if you’re going to be able to take your bag on the plane.
The ideal trip may exist only in our fantasies, but there are a few ways you can smooth out a lot of the travel wrinkles and come as close to that perfect trip as possible.
First, make sure your luggage is easily identifiable, which will save time when you’re at baggage claim where everyone has the same suitcase. For example, we produce black bags, but so does nearly every other luggage manufacturer, which can mean some confusion at the baggage claim area. If you don’t want your bag to be grabbed by mistake, tie a colorful ribbon to the handle or put a large sticker or patch on the sides (or you can just consider one of the unique colors we offer in our luggage collections).
And if you check your luggage, use the Sky Cap. They’ll get your bags to where they need to be, and the service is free. (Be sure to tip them though: $2 per bag is a good start.) Then you don’t have to worry about standing in line to check your bag.
Pay attention to how you park your car when you arrive. Back into your parking space so the nose is pointed out. Not only can you easily see if you left your headlights on, but if you have engine trouble, you can easily access the engine and get a jumpstart. What’s more, it will be easier to leave the space upon your return. (Also, take a photo of your parking row and spot so you can more easily remember it when you return.)
Better yet, catch a taxi or ride share to the airport from your house. You can roll right up to the front door and you don’t have to worry about parking at all. That can save you at least 30 minutes on the initial trip. Plus you don’t have to worry about remembering where you parked when you return.
If you have TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, you can skip the security check lines. It costs $85 for a 5-year PreCheck membership and $100 for Global Entry. Even if you only fly once a year, you’re basically spending $17 or $20 for permission to skip the line round trip — or $/$10 each way — to not stand in line. Worth it!
Get your seat assignment as soon as possible. If possible, book your flight directly with the airline, because you can reserve your seat immediately. Plus, if you’re in the airline’s loyalty club, you can save your seat preferences (window or aisle, economy or business) so they look for your favorites when you book your flights. If you get it through a third-party service, log onto the airline page and see if you can reserve your seat assignment. Not all of them will let you, so you may have to decide whether saving $40 is worth the risk of getting stuck in the middle seat of the back row near the toilet.
Finally, be sure to check in early. You can use the airline’s mobile app to check in 24 hours ahead of your departure time. You don’t have to stand in line at the front desk or use the check-in kiosk. If you check your bags with the skycap or use a carry-on, you can walk straight up to the TSA checkpoint with your mobile phone’s boarding pass, or skate right past it if you got PreCheck or Global Entry.
How close have you gotten to the perfect hassle-free flight? How smooth was the entire experience? What did you do to achieve a smoother trip? Share your ideas and stories with us on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.
Photo credit: Grant Wickes (Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)