It’s November, which means the middle of dental school/residency interview season. Or holiday travel-planning season. Do you want to know how to get the cheapest plane tickets? Or get through security in a matter of seconds? With some careful planning and research, you can make the most of your future trip! Some of the hacks listed below are well known. Others should be new to even frequent fliers. Here is a list of my top 9 travel hacks.
- When booking flights, clear cookies and/or switch to private browsing. Many websites are able to track your recent searches. If a search for a particular destination is continually entered, the price can be increased by demand. This could mean the price you thought you were paying 24 hours before could be substantially more. The best way around this obstacle is to clear your computers “cookies” or enable private browsing when searching for flights.
- Know the best days to fly. It should go without saying that weekends are more expensive to fly than weekdays. Currently, the best days to fly are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Research has also shown that the best fares are booked 47 days in advance. The best time to search for a flight is at 3:00 pm EST.
- TSA Pre-check and Global Entry. To get through security faster, TSA Pre-Check is the way to go! Here is a secret that many people do not know. TSA Pre-Check cost the traveler $85 and Global Entry Cost the traveler $100. So for $15 more you can register as a Global Entry traveler, which grants you TSA Pre-Check and expedites your re-entry into the U.S. through customs. The link to apply to Global Entry is here. (**note you will need a valid U.S. Passport).
- Book two one-way flights. Have you even noticed while searching for flights that the cheapest flights are on expedia.com or other sites like it? Often, these sites search for cheap one-way tickets rather than round trip tickets. There is no reason why you cannot book two one-way tickets and save yourself the service fee these sites charge.
- Become a frequent flier. If you are traveling a lot, it would be wise to register with one of the airlines frequent flier programs. Most airlines offer some sort of frequent flier account that comes with perks. The account keeps track of your miles flown and will turn into upgrades and or rewards if you fly enough. My personal favorite is skymiles through Delta Airlines. This frequent flier account has many partners that allows you to fly on other airlines domestic and abroad.
- Know the flight/seat guide. While booking plane tickets, you will often notice two very similar flights for the same place leaving nearly the same time. Which one should you pick? The best thing to do is check what type of plane each flight is. If you are not a fan of middle seats like me, I would choose the Boeing 767, which has far less middle seats. If both flights are using the same plane, try this website to find the best seat seatguru.com.
- Utilize apps. Utilize the apps each airlines offers on your phone. You can check in and even access your boarding pass on your phone. If you are not checking a bag, you can save a lot of time and literally walk straight to your gate.
- Free stopovers. Not all, but some airlines will allow you to take a free stoppover in their “hub” airport. Stopovers differ from layovers because they are overnight or multi-night stays. You can basically take a mini-vacation in another city and recover from the long trip the day before. Click here to read more and see a list of international carriers that offer this option.
- Credit cards. If you currently use a credit card, you might as well make the credit card work for you. Many credit cards offer points towards travel. You can transfer these points to buy airline tickets. You can even transfer to your frequent flier account if you set one up.
CORRECTION: Originally this post featured a tenth tip that advised picking up a cab at the departures terminal after you arrive in order to skip the cab stand line. At many airports, it is illegal for a taxi to pickup passengers outside of the cab stand. For your safety, you should wait at the cab stand or check with airport information to see if Uber is allowed to pickup at the airport.
Hope these hacks will help you in your future travels!
~Robert Perry, Loma Linda ’16, District 11 legislative liaison