From Trains to Planes
The summer of 2023 was all about train travel. Amtrak took me from Philadelphia to Atlantic City, NYC, New Haven, Providence and Boston. Once back in Canada I switched to planes. From November 2023 to March 2024 I will have made 13 one way flights, never a return trip.
This post is not a complaint about the air travel industry. There are enough articles out there on that topic, and honestly train travel has its own issues too. Instead, this post is about tips to make your air travel easier.
My absolute number one most important air travel tip is…GET AIRTAGS! Whether you have an Apple device use or Samsung or another brand, try their tags. I cannot speak for the accuracy of the other brands, but Apple AirTags work very accurately to within 12″. They can help you find luggage anywhere. (And even your purse when you are looking around the house for it). 😉 The key here is…you still need to know where your phone is (and my friends know that is sometimes the hard part)!
1. You can find your own lost luggage and not rely on the airlines or baggage services. My large suitcase missed a flight and when it arrived at the airport it was taken to a different airlines baggage claim. My airline declared the luggage lost, but I used my tracker to find it myself. Luggage recovered, not lost!
2. It gives you peace of mind, or a chance to think about what to do. Before I turn my phone into airplane mode for the flight I check to see if my bags are under me. Peace of mind. If they are not…I don’t panic yet, there just might not be a signal, but when I land I check again. I can tell if my bag is delayed way before the airline will know, and get in line at the counter.
And no I cannot travel carry on only. If you can, that’s the best idea. If you can’t, tag everything!
There is a cost to this tip but I have found it to be worth the price. Depending on the length of the flight and the route I paid between $16 and $33 for an exit row or a front bulk head seat. In both cases there is enough room to fully open a lap top and have it far enough away to view the screen properly. There is also a better chance of getting more space to yourself if the flight is not full. The paid seats are not always sold.
This one is not really a tip, just an observation. I do not travel light. The 13 one way segments covered the cold in Winnipeg and Montreal, the extreme heat and humidity of the Caribbean and the spring/fall like temperatures of Palm Springs in January. In order to cover all the seasons, and all the footwear 😉 I had to pay to check two bags.
I am not sure why, but it surprised me that I paid less on Air Canada than I did on WestJet. The total price for two bags on American, Alaska and United was less than both Canadian airlines in $US dollars but with the exchange rate what it is, Air Canada still ended up the cheapest.
Trip Advisor has a list of links to every airlines baggage fees in case you want to check before booking.
In Flight Wifi
I used the wifi to work on the Canadian segments and again Air Canada was cheaper than WestJet, significantly. Westjet charged $21.99, while Air Canada’s fee was only $12.34. Both flights were in Canada and both 3 hours with approximately 2.5 hours of wifi access that worked when at cruising altitude. The wifi is not fast, but still good enough to work on web applications, not stream.
Do not rely on the airline to give you something to read, watch or listen to. Most new planes have actually removed the screens. Do you remember how excited we were when they put them in?! Download your shows, movies, podcasts or music before you get to the airport to be safely entertained.
Travel is travel. Sometimes it is complicated and sometimes it’s not…but it is ALWAYS worth it!,