As you prepare for winter travel, consider these tips and gear for smooth flying | Tech US News


Halloween is over and boom, it’s holiday travel season.

Just a heads up for those who haven’t bought tickets for Thanksgiving or Christmas yet.

If you plan ahead and don’t mind the “Saver” or “Basic Economy” restrictions, you can get a one-way ticket to New York or Boston for about $200 on Alaska Airlines or Delta. But if you want to travel a couple of days before Thanksgiving, that same ticket will cost you $559 one-way on Alaska Airlines.

Take some time now to craft your travel strategy for the busiest travel season of the year. Alaskans who travel frequently know what to do. First, remove the razor from your carry-on. Then empty the water bottle before you get to security. Make sure your global entry number is on your record for TSA precheck status, etc.

For people who don’t travel much, flying can be stressful. But there are plenty of things you can do ahead of time to help smooth out the rough edges.

Before your trip, find out if you will be checking your bag or if you want to take everything on board with you. Remember that flights are likely to be full. If you are the last to board, you may need to check your carry-on baggage.

Earn baggage fees if you fly Alaska Airlines or Delta. With Alaska Airlines, make sure you’re registered for Club 49. It’s free, and Alaska residents can receive two free checked bags when traveling to or from Alaska.

With Delta, make sure you’re enrolled in the airline’s SkyMiles loyalty program. Members receive two free checked bags.

I still haven’t gotten my AirTags from Apple. But it is on my holiday gift list. You can get four for $100. It’s been a long time since an airline lost my bag. But the AirTag can help you track your bag if it doesn’t show up on your flight.

Checking in with my social media hive mind, travelers are happy to share their favorite travel accessories to make their trip a little more comfortable.

Noise canceling headphones were the most mentioned accessory. There are several variations, including headphones and earphones. I like the over-the-ear models. I have the Bose Quiet Comfort 15 headphones, which they haven’t made in several years. But they still work great.

Travel troubleshooter Christopher Elliott sent me a note from Zurich, saying he loves Sony’s wireless noise-canceling headphones. They are not headphones. Instead, they are reinforced headphones that effectively block out noise. “You can sleep in these, unlike bulky over-the-ear models,” he said.

Two other high-ranking answers were “neck pillow” and “blanket.” This reminds me of Jin Chen’s invention, the Planetet, which she developed to deal with both of these problems.

Chen’s package includes a blanket that folds into a pillowcase, along with a clasp to prevent the blanket from sliding to the floor of the plane.

As a tall traveler, I never understood that some airline seats are too high for short people. But many travelers use their backpack or small carry-on to slide under their feet to prevent them from hanging over the edge.

It wasn’t news to Candy FitzPatrick, a petite traveler who struggled with dangling feet on long, uncomfortable flights.

FitzPatrick did the research and developed Rest Angles, an adjustable and portable footrest that solves this problem. However, it is good not only on flights. When I met FitzPatrick for coffee here in Anchorage, he deployed his Rest Angle device. Since it is adjustable, the top can also rest at an angle for use under a table.

As we sipped our coffee, two women approached her to ask about the device, copied the website address, and said they were going to order one right away.

New gadgets are always popping up, especially for younger travelers. Crayola has come out with a “mess-free” coloring book. Kids can color in the book, but the markers won’t ruin their clothes, the flip tray, or the person sitting next to you.

A lot of people mentioned portable batteries, since there’s no guarantee you’ll be sitting in a seat with a charger. Here’s an extra tip though: make sure you charge your batteries the night before your trip.

There’s a whole subcategory of gadgets to keep kids busy. One parent improvised with this strategy: “I used to get random little puzzles and little toys and wrap them individually in tissue paper and pull each one out as needed during the flight.”

I always carry a portable headlamp, because I’ve sat in several seats where the overhead light doesn’t work.

Other small comfort items include lip balm, eye drops, and all sorts of lotions, though be careful not to trip the 3-ounce rule at TSA.

Our electronics, including iPads, laptops and phones, are only as good as our ability to recharge them. Besides portable batteries, you have to drag along the right cable. More than once, I’ve forgotten just the right cable and had to stop at an airport bookstore hoping they’ll have the right one.

In addition to various cables and adapters, my “nest of cables” also includes extra AA and AAA batteries, a flash drive, and a lens cleaner.

The next big category from readers was medicine: insulin, EpiPens, Dramamine, Gas-X, ibuprofen, and other prescription items you shouldn’t put in your checked baggage.

Be sure to check your reservations well in advance of your flight. Check your connections and seat assignments. Make sure your frequent flyer number is on your reservation. Plan to get a ride to the airport, as parking lots can be full.

It’s always a good idea to plan ahead, especially if you’re flying during peak travel periods. Now is a good time to start.


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