Here are comments posted in outrage when I learned the Holiday Inn in London charged five pounds per hour for wiFi access. Click image to enlarge.
As readers of this blog already know, I’ve been doing a lot of flying this year.
Air travel can be an enormous hassle.
Security. Duh! Missed connections! Delays, cramped seats … why bother to go at all?
Some of us, especially reporters, must travel. Often.
We have to go where the stories are.
So we have learned that there are lots of things a traveler can do to lessen the pain.
Here are a few tips I learned on the many trips taken domestically and internationally over the years.
Here is one web site at which to reserve airport parking … it’s cheaper and far more convenient.
FIRST, LEAVE YOURSELF plenty of time. Being late adds enormously to the stress, and one never knows if the road to the airport will be clogged with traffic or there won’t be a parking space in the lot.
To avoid this – AND pay less – I’ve discovered that making a parking reservation (at least at LAX, probably many other major airports) costs far less and is more convenient.
On my last three trips abroad, I reserved valet parking at an airport hotel near LAX for less than $12 per day, and took a free shuttle to the terminal.
Security lines are totally unpredictable – unless you’re fortunate enough to have “Priority Access” in which case you speed through a line with no waiting.
I discovered this with Jim on our trip to the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean for our sailing adventure in January, 2013. (See story under January on this blog)
Since almost all travelers these days – except those with private jets – make their own arrangements online, you need to know how to save time and money.
Here’s what works best for me. First I check one of the major search engines like Orbitz, Kayak or Expedia. But don’t stop there; they don’t dig deep enough.
If you see a flight that looks acceptable, go to the airline site itself. You might find better alternatives and cheaper fares.
What you lose is the additional time and energy it takes to do the homework.
STOP before you purchase the ticket.
The web site Flight Stats will help you pick exactly the right flight for your schedule – and tell you much, much more.
Once you have selected your flight, do some further research.
Go to the Flight Stats web site.
There is a wealth of information here. Like, on time arrival/departure records for the specific flight you have chosen; and a real time flight tracker (if you are expecting out-of-town guests.)
Next, go to the Seat Guru web site.
You will already know which seats are available on your flight, so check out if it’s a good one or not. Seat guru will tell you details for each specific aircraft type – so be sure to note that on the reservation screen.
And when you arrive, you want to have reasonably priced, clean and quiet accommodations.
Seat Guru will tell you almost everything you need to know about where to sit in any aircraft. Good, bad and ugly.
The best place I used to find these – apart from recommendations from friends – is Trip Advisor.
(If you dig deep enough you may find some of my comments posted there)
In fact, on my trip to Europe in May, I was generally quite satisfied with the Holiday Inn in Mayfair (very centrally located, quiet, clean) with one exception.
As those who follow me on Facebook know, I was outraged at the charge for Internet access: five pounds per hour!
Across the street is a Starbucks. Unlimited Internet access for the price of a cuppa coffee!
Since I was going to make public this atrocity, I requested a meeting with the general manager. We met in the hotel coffee shop. I was going to show him my Facebook posts, and when I opened my MacBook Pro, lo and behold!
I connected to the Starbucks network across the street. As he watched, I posted this information to Facebook.
Previously on the blog, I was so frustrated at not having wiFi at Terminal 5 in Heathrow Airport, one of the world’s busiest, I used my investigative reporting skills to discover a secret way to get a signal.
Then I revealed it to the planet on this blog. Dig deep, back to the last week in May to find the story.
When you travel, be alert, be early, carry little cash – and ask everyone you possibly can for help (in their own language, if you can do it). You will have much more fun.
Dedicated to Scott, who’s been doing much more than his fair share of travel the past few weeks.