Airline Cheat Sheet ~ How to Bypass Airline’s Automated Phone System to Get a Real Person

Awesome! The British Travel site Cheap Flights (http://www.cheapflights.co.uk) has created an infograph helping travelers get ahold real human beings when calling an airline for help. 

Frequent travelers are all aware of the aggravation and time wasted whenever you have to call an airline to get help. Sometimes it’s all but impossible to find your way through the system (especially if the trusty “press 0 for operator” doesn’t work. 🙂 

So Cheap Flights put together this sheet to tell you what buttons to push if you want to get ahold of a person. Great Idea!

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The incredible shrinking carry-on bag

“The incredible shrinking carry-on bag”

by Christopher Elliott via “USA Today”

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Mark Nevelow isn’t worried about the new airline carry-on luggage standards everyone’s talking about.

That’s because he just spent $99 on a new, smaller bag, a MobilePro backpack that fits under his seat. “I heard about the proposal,” he says. “I’m not concerned. With this backpack, it won’t affect me.”

At least, not yet. The controversial new limits proposed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), a trade group, set the maximum for luggage brought onboard at a slimmed-down 21.5 x 13.5 x 7.5 inches, significantly smaller than what’s now allowed on most planes.

Last week, after loud protests from several airlines, IATA backed down, saying it would “pause” the rollout of its voluntary “IATA Cabin OK” rule, which it claimed would give everyone an equal chance to store their carry-on bags on a large passenger jet. But don’t think for a moment that smaller luggage standards are dead.

“We can’t know for sure which luggage recommendations will become regulations,” says Michele Pittenger, president of the Travel Goods Association, which represents luggage manufacturers.

It’s probably only a matter of time before shrunken luggage becomes the norm. Even Pittenger admits that the current trend “is toward efficiency,” and a lot of times, that means going smaller. Bottom line: Either you need new luggage, or you’ll have to pack light.

For Arabella Bowen, the editor-in-chief of Fodor’s Travel, that means fitting everything into her Kate Spade Weekender (alas, no longer sold). But she recommends the Lipault 2-Wheeled 19″ Carry-On ($169; lipault-us.com), clocking in at 19 x 13 x 6 inches, which IATA would be OK with. It’s also soft-sided.

“Soft-sided bags have the advantage of fitting into overhead bins with a bit of massaging even when hard-backed roller bags can’t,” she says. “In a pinch, they can even slide under your seat.”

Samuel Nebel swears by the Aerolite luggage ($99) he discovered at a recent trade show, because it’s light, small and just an inch larger than the IATA standard, but still fits in the overhead bin of most large passenger aircraft. “It’s ridiculously functional,” says Nebel, who runs a health and beauty products company in Atlanta.

Of course, technique matters, too. It goes without saying that you’ll want to pack less, and smarter.

“Roll instead of folding and use nylon straps to cinch down bulging bags,” says Jonathan Deesing, a packing expert for imove.com. If you’re serious about squeezing more into less space, consider a luggage cube or a compression bag.

“Using these bags, I’ve compressed a week’s worth of clothing in a tiny duffle bag with room to spare,” he says.

It isn’t just how you pack, but what you take. Stay away from heavy fabrics like denim or linen, advises Rachel Grant, a TV host and frequent traveler. “Choose to pack clothes that are made from light fabrics, like silks, light cotton and polyester,” she adds. If you must bring a pair of favorite jeans, then wear them on the plane. . . .

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Thousands of Bags Go Missing on British Airways Flights Over the Weekend

Reason #5,289 not to rely on the fact that your luggage will be waiting for you at the end of your journey ~ Pack A Carry-On With All Necessities!! **DB

Thousands of Bags Go Missing on British Airways Flights Over the Weekend

by Jo Piazza via “Yahoo! News

Thousands of Bags Go Missing on British Airways Flights Over the Weekend

(Photo: British Airways)

Television executive Theano Apostolou was on a 10-day business trip from Los Angeles to London then Brussels and Glasgow when her luggage went missing on a British Airwaysflight from Brussels to Glasgow over the weekend.

By Monday morning her luggage had been lost for 53 hours and according to Apostolou the airline was unable to tell her if her bag even landed at Heathrow in the first place.

She isn’t alone. Since Thursday, thousands of pieces of luggage have been misplaced in the baggage system, causing travelers intense agitation.

“When we arrived in Glasgow, I would say that almost everyone who had checked luggage for this regional flight had their bags lost. There were attendants with long forms with our names waiting to tell us our bags hadn’t made it,” Apostolou said. “I’ve now wasted hundreds of dollars on essentials because I was only on day three of a ten-day business trip and have had to run like mad in between meetings to find stores that are still open.”

Checking into her hotel later that afternoon, Apostolou was informed by the receptionist that other guests had been plagued by the same problem and that many of them had not received their baggage by the time they checked out many days later.

According to the airline, the problem began on Thursday of last week when a technical failure knocked out the baggage processing system at Heathrow Airport.

Heathrow did not respond for comment.

“The situation has been as a result of an IT failure with Heathrow Airport’s baggage system in Terminal Five,” according to Euan Fordyce, a spokesman for British Airways. “The problem began on Thursday of last week, but there have been intermittent faults since then.” 

The airline says that the system was back up and running on Monday, but they were still advising travelers to “carry essential items in their hand baggage as a precaution.”

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“15 Flying Tips That’ll Keep You Sane This Summer”

Wow, some of these would have maybe been helpful on my study abroad trips (like checking for more space in the back of the plane).  i’ll have to keep them in mind next time! **DB

“15 Flying Tips That’ll Keep You Sane This Summer”

by Betty via “Yahoo”

15 Flying Tips That'll Keep You Sane This Summer

1.  Think about your outfit for your airplane trip.  Not how you look but how you will feel!  People get on airplanes dressed in ripped shorts, flip-flops, and a tank top and then complain that they are freezing?!? Whenever I fly, I always have a scarf or jacket I can put on if I’m cold or use as a pillow.

summer-flying-tips

Guess who’s going to be shivering during her flight (Photo: Thinkstock)

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“How To… Get the Best Summer Airfares”

Have you bought your flight tickets yet? Some of these tricks might help! **DB

“How To… Get the Best Summer Airfares”

by Bill Fink via “Yahoo

How To... Get the Best Summer Airfares

The River Thames in London (Photo: Ville Miettinen/Flickr)

As kids finish with school and the summer travel season kicks off, last-minute travel planners are getting sticker shock scanning airfares to Europe. June round-trip flights from New York to London are running $1,600, with fares from Atlanta or San Francisco topping $2,000. It’s shaping up to be one of the busiest summer travel seasons in years, and many airlines are pricing accordingly.

But there are deals to be had, if you follow a few basic bargain-hunting tips—some of them logical, some a bit surprising.

Barbados

Summer vacation in Barbados? Don’t mind if we do. (Photo: Greg McMullin/Flickr)

Flexibility on Destination—and Departure Point

Airfares usually follow the basic rules of supply and demand. Europe is a super-popular summer destination, and so you usually get super-high fares.

Consider instead… Non-traditional summer vacation destinations like the Caribbean, ski towns, and the southern hemisphere (where it’s winter) can all offer compelling flight deals. And sometimes there’s an increase in the supply of airlines to a city—as is currently the case in Seattle, where Delta is expanding to make it their West Coast hub and engaging in a fare war with existing carriers, making it a rare destination deal this summer.

Surprising deals can also be found by changing your departure city. George Hobica of Airfarewatchdog.com cites Boston-Spain summer fares that are over $800 cheaper those departing from New York City. “For that, you could almost hire a limo to Boston and still save money!” he jokes, semi-seriously. So when planning those trips, think beyond JFK vs. LaGuardia or SFO vs. Oakland, and expand your search regionally. Continue reading

“Travel Etiquette: How Not to Be Annoying On A Plane”

Some helpful information for student travelers, some not so helpful.  Still, plenty of good advice for all travelers. **DB

“Travel Etiquette: How Not to Be Annoying On A Plane”

by Erik Torkells via “Yahoo! News

Travel Etiquette: How Not to Be Annoying on a Plane

Our new etiquette series tackles those nagging questions that have always plagued you while traveling. This week, we take on manners in the air. Our expert? Erik Torkells—author of the Smart Traveler’s Passport, former editor in chief of Budget Travel, and all-around travel guru—who’s here to tell us right from wrong. And we’re happy to discover that good manners aren’t dead.

Help! The person in the seat next to mine is watching something dirty on his iPad. Can I ask him to stop?  Continue reading

16 Alarming Airline Secrets That Will Change How You Feel About Flying

16 Alarming Airline Secrets That Will Change How You Feel About Flying

by Suzy Strutner via “Huffington Post

Previously, we’ve had minor freak-outs upon learning that people habitually steal airplane lifejackets and the flight crew will refill your water bottle if you ask. But have you ever wondered if pilots stay awake the whole flight, or if anyone’s touched your complimentary pillow before? [Spoiler alert: LOTS of people have.]

A curious Reddit user asked airline professionals for facts about flying we might not already know. The answers (from flight attendants, pilots, engineers and frequent fliers) revealed a series of secrets you’re going to wish you never knew… either because they’re so useful, or because they’re so utterly revolting.

We’ve added a few of our own world-rocking facts to the list, and we’ve gotta tip our hat to Viral Quake for posting some of the Reddit thread’s most startling secrets. We should also mention the validity of individual Reddit comments can’t be completely confirmed.

That being said, we’re already thinking about flying from a whole new perspective.

Dim lights are meant to prepare you for evacuation, not sleep.
“When a plane is landing at night, they dim the interior lights incase you need to evacuate upon landing… your eyes are already adjusted to the darkness so you’ll be able to see better once outside the plane.” –@bonestamp
airplane cabin

You can unlock a lavatory from the outside.
“You are able to unlock airplane lavatories from the outside. There is usually a lock mechanism concealed behind the no smoking badge on the door. Just lift the flap up and slide the bolt to unlock.” –@threeway
airplane lavatory

You’re breathing engine air. 
“The air you breathe on an airplane is actually compressed air taken from the engines. A large portion (25% to 50%) is blown in the flightdeck, the rest is for the passengers. The air leaves the airplane via a small hole in the back of the fuselage.” –@virgadays

Those blankets have NOT been washed. Also, there’s a solid chance your tray table has poo on it. 
“I worked for Southwest as a flight attendant. Those blankets and pillows? Yeah, those just get refolded and stuffed back in the bins between flights. Only fresh ones I ever saw were on an originating first flight in the morning in a provisioning city. Also, if you have ever spread your peanuts on your tray and eaten, or really just touched your tray at all, you have more than likely ingested baby poo. I saw more dirty diapers laid out on those trays than food. And those trays, yeah, never saw them cleaned or sanitized once.” –@melhow44
airplane pillow

The captain is allowed to arrest you mid-flight.
The captain has almost limitless authority when the doors are closed. He is allowed to arrest people, write fines and even take the will of a dying passenger.” –@virgadays

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