How to Avoid Airline Baggage Fees and Carry More on Your Next Flight

How to Avoid Airline Baggage Fees and Carry More on Your Next FlightHave you had it with all of the extra airline fees? If you have, it is because you have discovered the vast array of potholes and gotchas that these companies have installed in order to get the most out of us. In fact, today’s airlines are about how many people they can cram into a space and they have made it clear that the days of flying no longer means saying goodbye to loved ones at the gate, free movies, and an enjoyable meal. In addition, this no-frills type of travel has become such a challenge that it is almost a game. One part of this game is played when a savvy passenger figures out that they can avoid additional costs if they take the time to become familiar with the rules. You see, there are ways for you to avoid the hassles and save money despite the roadblocks laid out by the various commercial carriers and TSA.

How to Avoid Airline Baggage Fees and Carry More on Your Next FlightThe first tip involves getting the most out of the TSA rule known as 3.1.1. This rule states that each passenger is limited to one, one-quart sized plastic bag containing individual bottles up to and including 3.4 oz. of liquids or gels. In order to maximize the number of items in this bag, you may need to invest in a zippered, plastic bag instead of using a cheaper Ziploc bag. It has been my experience that the zippered cases appear to actually hold slightly more than their Ziploc counterparts. I believe that this additional capacity is the result of the way that plastic zipper bags are designed. Of course, what you you carry and the shape of your gel or lotion will also affect how much you can carry on. If you have difficulty finding a compliant plastic travel case, Amazon offers these units with an assortment of empty bottles.

If you already have the case, you can save further money by remembering to take those free little bottles of shampoos, lotions, and hair conditioners that are often left behind when you check out of a motel or hotel. These little units are a perfect fit, so start collecting them and use them as containers for your future air travel. Remember, you can always rinse out what is in the bottle and refill it with your own assortment of toiletries or beauty products. If this is too time consuming for you, you also have the option to purchase airline-sized products at your local retailer. These, however, can be quite expensive and will most likely cost you as much as a larger bottle.

Next in the long line of airline travel frustrations is determining what the airline you are flying has designated as a personal item. A personal item is something that you can carry on board in addition to your luggage carry-on. I would highly recommend that you check the air carrier with which you are booked to fly in advance to help you determine what the carrier considers a personal item. However, in general, personal items are considered to be one purse, a camera bag, a diaper bag, one laptop computer case, or one item of a similar size to those previously listed. There are many exceptions to the rule, but I want to concentrate on just two of the listed items.

How to Avoid Airline Baggage Fees and Carry More on Your Next FlightThe first of these is the purse. In this case, the airlines do not provide a description or give a dimension or size requirement. In fact, in some cases, the purse has been replaced by a backpack. For women, then, this means that the bigger the purse, the better. For this reason, my wife bought a rather large (and ugly) handbag that she only uses when we travel.

This large handbag, tote, or purse is perfect for holding additional items, such as medications or an extra set of underwear, that you might need to carry with you on your trip. In fact, my wife’s purse is so large she has room to toss in her Apple iPad. The side pockets can be used to hold snacks or other small items that will increase the amount of space available in your carry-on luggage.

How to Avoid Airline Baggage Fees and Carry More on Your Next FlightThe other item I want to mention is the laptop case. Again, it is another one of those items that is not designated a size or any other specific requirements. As a result, it gives the passenger another opportunity to store additional items. This computer case, for instance, is described as having the ability to hold up to an 18″ laptop computer. There is nothing in the description that says that the computer inside of the computer bag must be that size. This means that, if you use the bag to transport a 15″ computer, there will still be plenty of room inside for additional items. Once again, this frees up space in your carry-on baggage. In fact, you can lighten the load further if you do as I do and carry a 17″ computer bag for your Nexus 7 or any other tablet. My Nexus 7 works well for me since I have equipped it with a Bluetooth keyboard for when I travel. If you do this, you are then free to fill the extra space with other items that you will no longer have to stuff in your carry-on bag.

The next tip comes in for those who still haven’t bought a carry-on bag. Buying the right one is part art, part intuition, and a little bit of magic all rolled into one. First you want one that will last and, while most of us are aware that black makes us look thinner, it also does not show the grease that can mark up your bags. I recall one trip when we checked red luggage only to discover that when it came off the conveyor belt it looked like it had just received an oil, lube, and filter change. This was an expensive lesson since it cost me a total of $100 to check those bags that needed to be replaced.

Due to that experience, I finally decided to take the bull by the horns and do something to avoid paying for the privilege of having my luggage destroyed. I figured I could use the money I saved on future baggage fees to purchase everything I needed to make my travels less expensive.

How to Avoid Airline Baggage Fees and Carry More on Your Next FlightThe best carry-on luggage is wheeled and you need to find one that all airlines will accept. What I found, which has worked for me for the past four years, is a piece of luggage called the Netpack Wheeled 20″ Gear Bag.

You will find that this particular bag is size compliant at 9″ x 20″ x 11″, has easy roll wheels, a telescopic handle with two position adjustments, and is very well-made. On the front side of the case are two pockets that hold a significant amount of small items. The inside of the bag is large enough to handle enough clothing to last the average person for about one week’s stay. However, the biggest bonus is the two large pockets located on both sides of the bag. The side compartments can easily hold two pairs of shoes, plus a pair of socks in each shoe. I checked with four of the major carriers and this bag meets all of the specifications that they have designated to be allowed as a carry-on.

As a side note, I did not purchase all of the items that I have mentioned from Amazon. I merely used Amazon and the images provided to show you the items I purchased.

Safe travels!

Comments are welcome.

Delta
United
Southwest
American

CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by mcbeth

Hipmunk

There should be an image here!Whenever you need to book a flight, you have to prepare yourself to enter the great unknown. Not only is there a a large number of potential airlines that you can choose from, but prices fluctuate regularly and you never really know how much a flight will cost until you start doing your research. Price is important, but so is the time of your departure and the possibility of any layovers. Searching for flights can be easy and complicated at the same time, but Hipmunk is trying to improve the overall experience.

One of the nice things about this service is that it doesn’t get in your way. You just enter your flight details as usual, specify whether there’s a preferred airline that you like to use, and then see what options are available to you. A large number of filtering options can be used (I especially like the Agony option), and the way in which flights are presented makes it easy to get a good feel for what’s possible. Right now the site only uses Orbitz for ticketing, but hopefully they’ll expand in the future to offer more choices.

Who In Their Right Mind Would Put A $900 Camera In Their Check On Baggage?

I was surfing around this morning looking for anything of interest to write about, when I found an article at The Consumerist about a lost camera. It seems a flier on a United flight from Hawaii to Tuscon checked on his bags which included a $900 camera in the luggage. When he arrives at his destination, guess what? No camera. So the guy who lost his camera wants us all to know that United can’t be trusted since the company refused to pay for the camera.

Heh Sherlock. Are you dumb or what? Any idiot knows you never put any valuables in your check on luggage. If you have something of value you carry it on. Problem solved.

Here is a better solution:

A “weapons” is defined as a rifle, shotgun, pistol, airgun, and STARTER PISTOL. Yes, starter pistols – those little guns that fire blanks at track and swim meets – are considered weapons…and do NOT have to be registered in any state in the United States.

I have a starter pistol for all my cases. All I have to do upon check-in is tell the airline ticket agent that I have a weapon to declare…I’m given a little card to sign, the card is put in the case, the case is given to a TSA official who takes my key and locks the case, and gives my key back to me.

That’s the procedure. The case is extra-tracked…TSA does not want to lose a weapons case. This reduces the chance of the case being lost to virtually zero.

It’s a great way to travel with camera gear…I’ve been doing this since Dec 2001 and have had no problemswhatsoever.

Comments welcome.

Consumerist article is here.

Lifehacker suggestion is here.


JetBlue $599 Pass – Deal or No Deal?

JetBlue is offering a $599 pass for all you can fly. The offer includes all taxes and fees and appears to be a real steal until you read the limitations. The pass is only good between the dates of September 8, 2009 and October 8, 2009. Also you are limited to only 56 destinations where JetBlue operates to and from.

Other limitations are:

Customers must buy the $599 pass by Aug. 21, and they can book flights within three days of the departure date. All travel using the pass must be booked between Aug. 12 and Oct. 5.

Taxes and fees are included for domestic flights, and changes or cancellations made less than three days before departure cost $100.

One would think that you would have to fly quite a bit during the time period in order to make this a worth while purchase. Since JetBlue also offers flights from around $100, does this deal make sense? Or is it to attract publicity for the airline?

So after reading the press release and coverage by CNN, my question is this. Deal or No Deal?

Let me know what you think.

Comments welcome.

Money article.

Airlines Have Mothballed 800 Planes In One Year

If you haven’t had the pleasure of flying recently, you may be in for a surprise on your next trip. Customer care and courtesy is a thing of the past. Air flight delays are the rule rather than the exception. Plus it now appears that the airlines are dumping planes in the desert to be mothballed for life. According to one estimate over 800 planes have been dealt the death blow since mid-2008. The results? Higher fares and less concern for the consumers.

On recent trips I have encountered ‘surley’ agents who man the counters who act like they are doing us a favor by letting us board their plane. The food situation on board flights has disintegrated to over priced sandwiches with little taste and no concern for quality. Fortunately sodas still come in cans since I am sure that the quality of drinks uldwo also suffer. On one recent flight I heard one attendant tell a passenger if he wanted a better selection of food he should of sat up in first class. 

But the airlines are cutting back on flights, and as this article from the Wall Street Journal states:

Desert storage areas have historically been chop shops for retired jets, but increasingly, airlines are parking newer planes, too — a trend expected to strengthen after the summer travel season.

“We’re getting indications from industry there will be another movement after summer. And it will be next-generation aircraft,” said John Keating, president of Evergreen Maintenance Center Inc., which runs one of the world’s largest aircraft storage facilities here.

Evergreen already has more than 200 jets parked here, and among the planes Mr. Keating expects in Marana: five relatively new Boeing 777 wide-bodies, the jewel of many airplane fleets.

It also states that:

There are Boeing 757s with Northwest Airlines paint markings, 737s with Delta and Alaska tail numbers, Spanair MD-80s, Air Canada 767s, and lots of wide-body 747s, DC-10s and MD-11s from United, Northwest and cargo lines. The remnants of defunct airlines also end up here, such as Maxjet and ATA. There’s even a last reminder of Trans World Airlines parked amid the wide-body jets.

We may be returning to the days when air flight was for the wealthy only. 

To bad.

Comments welcome.

Source

March 13, 2009 – Virus Set To Call Home To Southwest Ailrines

According to a blog entry at Sophos, if you are scheduled for a flight on Southwest Airlines on March 13th, you may have trouble logging in online. It seems that the virus known as Confickeris scheduled to call home to wnsux.com for further instructions. But the virus won’t receive any directions. Instead the site which is owned by Southwest Airlines will redirect the traffic to Southwest Airlines. If this happens, than the site could suffer a denial of service attack.

According to Sophos in their blog posting, it also states that:

The key sites whose visitors may indeed see a disruption to their service include:

DOMAINDESCON DATE
jogli.comBig Web Great MusicMarch 8
wnsux.comSouthwest AirlinesMarch 13
qhflh.comWomen’s Net in Qinghai ProvinceMarch 18
praat.orgPraat: doing phonetics by computerMarch 31

Other, less frequented, sites of interest that appeared in the list include “The Tennesse Dogue De Bordeaux” dog breeders site (tnddb.com, March 14) and the coy “Double Super Secret Message Board” site (dssmb.com, March 11) — dogs and secrets won’t be moving too well on those days. One last domain turned out to be infected with Troj/Unif-B (site not listed here for obvious reasons) — so I will go ahead and block that one all the same!

As for options, the simple solution, say for Southwest Airlines, could simply be to stop resolving wnsux.com to southwest.com for the day — so long as that wouldn’t hinder any of their operations. Another option would be to filter out the Conficker HTTP requests of the form http://<domain>/search?q=<N>, though this requires that (a) your site does not currently use a “search” page (with no file extension) and more importantly (b) the filtering decision is made at a point along the network path that can cope with the load. This is a bit trickier as HTTP is an application layer protocol — a network connection must already be established before the two endpoints start speaking HTTP — necessitating a highly provisioned web proxy be used on the front lines to (1) establish the connection (TCP 3-way handshake), (2) examine the HTTP request, and (3) drop Conficker requests and pass along any remaining (presumably legitimate) requests further downstream. In any case, I have contacted the owners of the domains listed above to draw their attention to this matter.

Time will tell whether making it on the Conficker list will be viewed with prestige or lowliness. Perhaps stories of surviving a Conficker call-home flood will carry a badge-of-honor in the network operations world. I do know one thing for certain though… I’m glad sophos.com did not make the list.

MikeW, SophosLabs, Canada

So hopefully Southwest Airlines won’t experience any problems.

Comments welcome.

Source

American Airlines – Passengers Get To Test Broadband

American Airlines will begin testing broadband service on a flight from New York to Los Angeles. The new service is a joint effort of American Airlines and Aircell and will expand to other flights in the next few weeks for further testing. According to the report:

Passengers will be able to download videos, use email, instant messaging and access corporate networks using their laptops or handheld devices.

Aircell’s Gogo service will be free today. Once the initial test phase is complete, it will cost $12.95 for passengers to use the service on flights longer than three hours and $9.95 for shorter flights. Voice-based functions will not be enabled.

The system will control the flow of data so users downloading movies or large files will not interfere with other passengers accessing email.

This is an opportune time for the airlines increase revenues to try and off set the rising cost of fuel. Some other suggestions, beside charging for your luggage, should be:

  • Charging to use the in flight restrooms. Toilet paper should also be extra.
  •  On coast to coast flights, have the pilot announce that the plane is low on fuel, and see if anyone would like to chip in a few bucks.
  • Charge extra for smooth landings that do not scare the crap out of everyone on board. I once landed in San Francisco, and Captain Kangaroo, bounced us in to the terminal.

Comments welcome.

Source.

Hawaii – Paradise Being Hit Hard By High Prices

I was watching CNN yesterday and was surprised to learn just how high prices were heading in Hawaii. Having just been to the islands last October, I thought prices were high than, but now they have skyrocketed out of sight. To add to the high cost of staples, is also the high cost of plane flights which have been hit buy the rising cost of fuel. With Aloha and ATA airlines going out of business and other airlines cutting flights to the island, Hawaii is being hit with a double whammy.

Tourism is the life blood of Hawaii and they are dependant on visitors to keep their economy afloat. In the articles it states:

One state senator says Hawaii has a brewing crisis on its hands, and wants the state to be proactive before things get really bad. 

To add to their woes are prices that have hit a new high. Consider these prices:

Imagine going to your local grocery store and paying over $8 for a jar of Jif peanut butter. How about $5.50 for a loaf of white bread, $6.50 for a gallon of milk or $7.19 for a half-gallon of orange juice?

 Which means lettuce is running $2 per pound. Tomatoes are at $6.39 a pound and a 3-pack of red peppers costs $7.

That means going without luxuries such as ice cream, which costs about $7.60 per gallon. But when a box of cereal can cost nearly $8, and $7.19 only buys one pack of Kraft American cheese slices, saving money is easier said than done.

Yipes! That’s $2 a pound for lettuce not for a head.

So what do you think? Will you be visiting the islands any time soon? :-)

Comments welcome.

Hawaii Tourist Source.

Hawaii Food Cost Source.

Can You Lose Your Job For Blogging?

In this day and age with protections in place to protect our freedom to speech, one needs to wonder just how far someone can go when blogging on the Internet. The classic case of an employee losing his job is the case of Mark Jen, who worked a total of 10 days before being terminated by Google. It seems that Jen had used Google’s own Blogger.com to allegedly complain about his employer.

Than there is the case of Ellen Simonetti who was canned by Delta Airlines for blogging about her jog as a stewardess. Oops. Flight attendant. We must be PC. Anyway Ellen blabbed about her job and Delta apparantely didn’t like what she said. Out she went, blog and all.

We also have the story about a Microsoft subcontractor, who lost his contract after he posted pictures oh his blog,  of Apple computers being delivered to the Redmond empires main campus. :-)

So what do you think? Are you protected by first amendment rights if you bad mouth your boss on your blog? Or can corporate America kick your ass out the front door?

Comments welcome.

[Sources for this article available at wikipedia or via Google search]

Another Reason Not To Fly GO! Airlines

Back in October 2007, my wife and I had an unfortunate incident while trying to fly from Honolulu , HI. to Kona, HI. aboard a GO! airline flight. So when I read about two GO! airline pilots suspected of falling asleep during a flight to Hilo, HI., I wasn’t surprised. For thos of you who may go to Hawaii and need to take a hop between islands, I would highly suggest that you use another airline beside GO!. The news articles states:

HONOLULU — go! Airlines suspended two pilots who overshot a runway in Hilo last week who are under investigation for possibly sleeping.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the case.The go! Flight 1002 took off from Honolulu at 9:20 a.m. on Feb. 13. It was scheduled to land in Hilo at 10:05 a.m., but the plane flew beyond Hilo Airport and was out of contact with air traffic controllers for more than 20 minutes, officials said.

When CNN first aired this report, they indicated that not only were the pilots not in contact with ground personnel but were actually some 19 miles off course.

If your safety doesn’t matter, than GO for it! :-)

Complete story is here.

[tags]go!, airlines, flight, HI, honolulu, hilo, pilots, asleep, navigation, [/tags]

Help Track Airline Flights With Google This Holiday

I am sure that we are all aware of the situation when it comes to the airlines and how many flights get delayed every day. Well this holiday season Google is going to try and make our trip[s] a little easier by providing us with flight status reports in real time. On their Web site the folks at Google state:

The holiday season is upon us, and we know that many amongst you are traveling to be with family and friends. To make sure you spend more time celebrating and less time waiting at the airport, we’re introducing a new flight status feature that we hope will make your travels easier.

For the latest information on a flight’s status, simply search for an airline and flight number, and the first result will tell you whether your flight is on time or delayed as well as the estimated departure and arrival times. Here’s a quick example for a specific American Airlines flight:

Hopefully this makes your travels a little smoother. Happy holidays from the Google Search team.

They also mention that they may also be instituting a lost baggage service on their site as well in the near future.

Comments welcome.

Link is here.

dohop.com

It’s that time again. Gnomedex is right around the corner, and we’re all gearing up for what it will bring this year. By just taking a glance at the list of attendees and discussion leaders, you’ll quickly see why Seattle is the place to be on June 29-July 1. I didn’t know for sure if I was going to be able to make it out to the conference this year (due to various circumstances), but a few important thing have begun to workout, so I’ll be in attendance along with everyone else. Even though I had to book my flight later than I usually do, I still was able to get a fairly good deal (thankfully). Of course, there’s a chance that I might have been able to find an even better deal if I would have used dohop.com.
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