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Traveling by Air This Summer? Make Your Flight Easier and Safer With Tips From Industry Experts

An estimated 271 million passengers will take to the skies in the U.S. this summer. If you’re one of them, keep reading!

Summer 2024 is shaping up to be the busiest air travel season ever, with the TSA logging the highest number of fliers in a single day (close to 3 million!) at the start of the season. Whether you already have a ticket or are still on the fence about that tempting fare, these industry experts are here to help with their smart travel hacks for flying.

Top 13 travel hacks for flying

1. Recover from a missed connection by calling the ‘secret’ number

When surveyed about their air travel worries, respondents understandably put missed connections — and potentially getting stranded at the airport — at the top of their lists. Katy Nastro, spokesperson for the popular flight alert and travel site Going.com, suggests calling the airline’s hotline as soon as possible, even before queueing to speak with an agent in the airport. “If many flights are delayed across a region and I can’t get through, I’ll switch gears and call the airline’s international line even if I’m on a domestic route. Those agents have access to the same schedules and can rebook you while on the phone, but won’t be so bombarded.” It’s also smart to prepare for this scenario by downloading the airline’s mobile app before you fly, says Nastro. “Carriers are eager to get customers used to in-app messaging and may dedicate extra staff to this mode of communication.”

2. Travel hacks for flying: Prevent aches and pains with a hosiery hack

If you take a look at Nastro’s social media accounts, full of stylish swimwear and glamorous locales, you would never guess that compression socks are one of her favorite travel accessories! “They’re a pain to get on but make such a difference in preventing body aches and improving circulation. I’ve worn them on many long-haul flights to Australia, and now I even wear them on short 3-hour flights.” And Nastro isn’t alone. Many young travelers and influencers wear compression socks to reduce fatigue and inflammation, and brands like Comrad offer them in chic patterns, colors and even textures, including tie-dye and neon. (Some health-conscious jetsetters even wear compression sleeves on their arms!)

3. Calm your stress response by considering your senses

Bathing in sunlight. An excited young lady meets the first morning at a new flat house part curtains enjoy being a homeowner.
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“When it comes to cabin lighting and meal service, airlines try to mimic the day you’re flying into,” reveals Nastro. “But it can be a shock to the system, especially if you already woke up early to catch your flight.” To soothe frazzled nerves, pack comfort items that target each of your senses. “My go-to’s include a lavender roll-on for aromatherapy, an eye mask to block those lights that never fully dim, cheap ear plugs to filter most sound, and a soft blanket to touch.” Ask for water with a slice of lemon and you’ve got your sense of taste covered, too.

4. Travel hacks for flying: Save cash with post-purchase tracking

See a fare that’s good but not great? Instead of waiting (and waiting) for a cheaper price, take advantage of a Covid-era policy change, counsels Allie Johnson, Senior Editor at ThriftyTraveler.com, a top source for learning about miles and points. “If a flight price drops after you book your ticket, nearly every U.S. airline allows you to rebook for the lower fare and get a voucher for the price difference — as long as you booked a main cabin economy ticket and not a bare-bones seat.” But how would you know if your ticket’s price dropped? “Set up a price alert for your flight on Google Flights and they’ll send you an email if the fare changes.”

Flexible dates? Now that business travel has resumed its old patterns (out on Mondays and back Thursdays), Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays are once again the cheapest days to fly, notes Johnson. “Just by booking off-peak days you can stand to save hundreds on your tickets.”

5. Have essentials at your fingertips with a trendy accessory

In tight quarters, being able to reach everything you need can be challenging — and it’s even worse trying to contort yourself to retrieve a credit card or phone that’s fallen under your seat! “That’s why I’m a big fan of sling bags!” reveals Summer Hull, director of content at ThePointsGuy.com. “They’re small enough to wear the whole flight, but roomy enough for my charger, phone, credit card, tissues and earplugs.” And they happen to be on-trend, with stars like Blake Lively and Camila Cabello adding them with casual outfits. What about larger carry-ons and the bag you stash under your seat? Consider using small pouches or packing cubes for things you may want to grab mid-flight, such as a tablet, shawl or toiletry kit — and adding a ribbon or keychain to each pouch’s zipper to make it extra-easy to reach down and grab what you need.

6. Travel hacks for flying: Minimize turbulence with an a.m. flight

Sensitive to even mild turbulence? “Morning flights for the win!” smiles Hull. “The calmest flights are generally the earliest — before the heat of the day warms the air around the aircraft. You’ll also have fewer delays to deal with and more time to deal with schedule changes without getting stranded.” And while some prefer not to take the seat over the wings because they obstruct the view, these seats tend to be the most stable.

7. Increase your comfort with savvy seat selection

travel hacks for flying: Young Asian business woman or female passenger wearing wireless headphone and working with tablet during the flight.
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It’s an age-old question: window or aisle? And the best answer for you may change as you age or depending on the length of the flight. “For those who struggle to fall and stay asleep, nothing beats the window seat for a place to curl up, especially on longer trips,” says Nastro. “But if you’re prone to sore muscles, the aisle makes it easy to take frequent stretch breaks and strolls around the cabin.”

8. Travel hacks for flying: Reduce bathroom trips by skipping the ice

Whichever seat you choose, there’s a little-known way to minimize trips to the bathroom: Skip the ice when you order that ginger ale or Bloody Mary mix! The body experiences the cold as a drastic temperature change that can result in urinary urgency—and onboard beverages tend to have lots of ice.

Worth-it splurge: “Consider paying a bit more for extra legroom!” encourages Hull. “It’s amazing how a few inches can make a world of difference, and it’s often not very expensive.” For example, upgrading to American’s “Main Cabin Extra” seats starts at $20.

9. Stay cool while connecting by checking the right website

“When I have a connection or am arriving in a new-to-me airport, I take a minute to check out the airport’s website,” notes Nastro. “There’s always an easy-to-read map that tells me if I’ll need to take a monorail to get from one terminal to the other — and I can see the most up-to-date info on food options, including which eateries allow ordering ahead.” If you’re traveling with children, check the map for play areas, too. When it comes to getting out of the airport and into your destination city, Rome2Rio.com is Nastro’s pick. “This website searches all the routes and modalities available to get you from A to B.”

10. Travel hacks for flying: Encourage patience with a discreet signal

A vibrant green lanyard with sunflower motifs and an empty badge on a green background.
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If you or a loved one have a hidden disability that means you might take longer to go through security or need a hand while in transit, stop by the airport’s information desk or security checkpoint and ask for a Sunflower Lanyard. Wearing one indicates to airport staff that you have a temporary or permanent need that may not be visible, such as hearing loss, asthma or PTSD, and you don’t need to disclose your disability or have a formal diagnosis to get one.

11. Outsmart stiffness with a tennis ball

Prone to back or neck pain? Take a tip from Dr. John Strugar, a Yale School of Medicine spine surgeon and frequent flier, and toss a tennis ball into your carryon! Place it between your neck and headrest and gently move left and right for a powerful DIY neck massage, then move the ball behind your lower back to activate lumbar support. (As a bonus, the ball’s distinct shape and color mean it will breeze through security, unlike a Theragun or other battery-powered massager).

12. Travel hacks for flying: Avoid long airport waits by knowing the new rules

In a typical year, up to a quarter of flights fail to depart on time, due to everything from bad weather to staffing shortages. The good news: A landmark bipartisan bill passed earlier this year protects passengers when airlines break their promises on punctuality, reveals Nastro. “Passengers now have the right to request a refund or be booked on a new flight for any delay over 3 hours on a domestic flight. So if you’re at home and see that your flight has a significant delay, you can choose to stay put and rebook instead of dealing with the uncertainty of heading to the airport.” Even better: There’s no paperwork or claims process. “It’s an automatic refund to your credit card after you make the call.”

13. Get away on a budget with a little-known tool

When you’re feeling blah, and just getting away from it all is more important than your exact destination, try the “Google Explore” tool, recommends Johnson. “This game-changing search function lets you discover the best fares from your home airport to almost anywhere in the U.S. or around the world.” You can input the most you’ll spend on a ticket (so you only see options in your price range) and limit yourself to direct or single-stop flights. It also makes it easy to compare tickets to several locales within a desirable area like Florida or Mexico — and lets you discover destinations you wouldn’t usually consider!


For more on travel, click through the links below!

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