Galley Gossip: 10 Ways To Handle A Tight Connection

Photo Credit: NewbieRunner

1. Book wisely. If you need to be somewhere really important, it’s probably not a good idea to book your flights with less than an hour between them. Even an hour is pushing it. An hour and a half is good. Two hours, even better. Whatever you do, don’t take the last flight out! Delays happen. So do cancelations.

2. Pay the extra fee. If you’re the anxious type and travel is stressful, pay the extra fee to sit closer to the front of the airplane and be done with it. Why start your trip out on the wrong foot and the risk a snowball effect. Because once something goes wrong, everything seems to follow suit. Better to be out a few bucks than to miss a flight! It’s worth it just to relax.

3. Check your boarding pass. Many airlines print the boarding time, not the departure time, on the boarding pass. Depending on the equipment type (smaller vs. larger aircraft), you can usually tag on another 30 to 40 minutes to your connection time. Read the fine print.

4. Switch seats. Ask a flight attendant if you can move closer to the front of the cabin on landing. Unfortunately, most flights are full these days and just because there’s an open seat up front doesn’t mean you’ll find a spot in the overhead bin for your bag too. If you’ve booked a tight connection, you might want to make sure your carry-on luggage fits under the seat in front of you.

5. Relax: I know, I know, easier said than done. Just know that while it might feel like it takes forever to disembark, the truth is almost everyone is able to deplane in less than 15 minutes. So take a deep breath and … exhale. Put in your earphones and play the most relaxing music you have. Then get ready to run. Here’s to hoping you wore appropriate shoes to sprint across the airport terminal.6. Call the airline. Don’t wait in a long line of passengers to talk to an agent. By the time it’s your turn to approach the counter, chances are the flight will have already departed. Get on the phone ASAP and call the airline’s reservation desk. Or try tweeting for an even faster response. Most airlines offer immediate feedback.

7. Hold the flight! Airlines don’t hold flights for passengers. On time departures are way too important. That said an airline might hold a flight if it’s the last flight of the day or for a large group of passengers traveling to the same destination. If it is the last flight out, rest assured the airline knows where you are and you’ll probably be booked on another flight before you even land.

8. Go, go, go! Don’t stop to talk to the agent meeting your flight. Run straight to your connecting gate and talk to the agent there, even if it’s past the departure time. Time is precious. Every second counts. Plus you never know if that flight might be delayed.

9. The thing about bad weather. If you’re delayed because you’re flying into an airport experiencing bad weather, chances are your connecting flight may also be delayed. And remember just because your departing aircraft is at the gate, doesn’t mean the outbound crew is on the ground and ready to go. They could still be in the air too. Sounds strange, I know, but we don’t stick with one aircraft all day long.

10. It’s not over until the airplane pushes away from the gate. I can’t tell you how many flights I’ve just missed only to have the airplane return back to the gate to remove a sick passenger or to fix a mechanical. I’ve actually gotten on flights airlines have brought passengers off of due to weight and balance issues that were later lifted after a creeping delay. Miracles do happen.

Guide To Saving Money On Flight Bookings

Deciding when to book your flight to get the best price can be frustrating. Do you wait to try to get a last minute deal? Should you book in advance? How do you navigate expensive tickets around the holidays? With the help of Jeff Klee, CEO of, Warren Chang, Vice President and General Manager of and Anisha Sekar, Vice President of Credit and Debit Products for NerdWallet, we’ve created a guide to help travelers make the right choices when booking flights.

When is the best time to book?

While booking as early as possible is the general rule of thumb to getting great flight deals, this also depends on how far away your travel dates are. In general, if your trip is more than three months away, wait.

Explains Chang, “Airline sales tend to target travel dates that are two to three months out, most of the time, so flights beyond that window generally are priced at a higher level until the sales target those dates.”

Klee adds there are a few myths related to booking flights. One is that the further in advance you book, the better. The other is if you wait until the last minute, there will be unsold seats that the airlines will practically give away. Both of these are untrue in almost all cases.

The truth is, there is no hard and fast rule; however, there are some general trends to be aware of. Most airlines will open their flights for booking about 11 months in advance. Usually when a flight first opens for sale, fares are on the high side. The airline will keep them that way for a while to get a sense of the overall demand. As it gets closer to the flight date, you’ll begin to see sporadic sales. Then, depending on how heavily booked a flight is, you might start to see more frequent and aggressive discounting.“On average, six weeks in advance is the least expensive time to buy a domestic flight – but that does fluctuate quite a bit,” says Klee. “With popular markets on popular travel dates, it’s best to book even earlier. And always try to book at least 21 days in advance.”

This dynamic changes a bit during holidays, making it much more important to book early. The basic factor affecting a flight’s price is how full it is. In fact, airlines typically offer five to 15 different prices for the same flight, just at different times. Usually, airlines will sell the first 20 seats at their lowest fare and the next 20 at the next lowest fare, with the pattern continuing until the flight is sold out. In short, the fuller a plane is getting, the more expensive the seats will be.

What days of the week are cheapest/most expensive to fly?

Although there are always exceptions, Tuesdays and Wednesdays rank as the least popular days and are usually the least expensive to fly. Additionally, because it’s common for travelers to fly on Fridays and Sundays, they are the most expensive. According to Chang, Wednesday afternoons specifically are the best time to book.

“Tuesday and Wednesday are the days of the week when airlines release their sales,” he explains. “Once all the sales are released, other airlines may match some of the discounted fares, so waiting until Wednesday afternoon allows for these matching airlines to file their fares as well.”

Keep in mind, around the holidays the rules change. For example, during Thanksgiving week, Wednesday and Sunday are two of the busiest and most expensive travel days of the year. Additionally, the Tuesday before and the Monday after are also more expensive than usual.

“You can save a lot if you avoid those days,” explains Klee. “The best days to travel out are generally the Saturday or Monday before Thanksgiving and the best days to travel back are the Friday, Saturday or Tuesday after. Of course, if you can fly on Thanksgiving Day itself you can usually get a great deal, too.”

For Christmas and New Years, the day after is usually very expensive, as are the Fridays and Saturdays before and the Sundays after.

Tricks And Tactics

The main tactic to saving money on flights is to be as flexible with your dates as possible. If you are locked into exact travel dates, it will be more of a challenge to get a great deal. However, if you are willing to fly on multiple sets of dates, the odds of finding a good deal
get better. Moreover, being flexible with the times you travel is a big help.

Says Chang, “Flying late morning through afternoon is often a lot more expensive than catching a red eye or hopping on the first flight of the day.”

Alternate airports can help, too. “If there is more than one airport near your origin or destination city, check them both,” advises Klee. “The more options you have in terms of airports and travel dates, the more likely you will find what may be one of the last discount seats to where you are going.”

Knowing what you’re paying for before you book is also important. While a recent law set by the U.S. Transportation Department states airfares shown in advertisements must be “the entire price to be paid by the customer,” there are still other charges like baggage, entertainment and meal and beverage fees.

As long as you’re not wedded to a specific hotel, looking for a package deal can also help you save a bundle on flights. When doing this, you can sometimes get an almost-free hotel or car rental.

“Over the years we have seen some spectacular deals where, for as little as $2 more, you can also stay at a top-notch hotel,” says Chang.

Furthermore, it’s a good idea to start checking fares as soon as you know your potential travel dates and airports. If you don’t like what you find, and you have two months of more, make a point to check back every few days. As soon as you see a good deal, book it. Availability changes quickly around the holidays and what you see today will very possibly not still be available tomorrow.

Online Tools

When trying to find a deal, make use of the online tools available to you. offers a “Price Drop Payback,” where they refund passengers the difference if a ticket they purchased drops in price. Furthermore, Bing Travel features a price predictor to help you decide if you should wait or buy now by showing if fares are rising or dropping. Kayak is also helpful, as it shows fare history charts to give you some foresight. If you have Twitter, has an award-winning feed for flight deals, being nominated as one of the best by Time Magazine. Additionally, using aggregator sites like the ones mentioned above, as well as Skyscanner, Orbitz, cheapOair and Hotwire can help you compare airline prices.

Use Your Miles And Points

According to Sekar, the key to effectively using credit card miles and points to book flights is flexibility. Being willing to tweak your dates to get the best value is important. Additionally, timing your flights to coincide with higher ticket prices for the same rewards amount is beneficial.

Sekar also generally recommends using regular credit cards over airline-specific cards, unless there is one carrier you use all the time. Furthermore, using your miles to book holiday flights usually offers the worst redemption value.

So, what cards give you the best value? In terms of deals, the Chase Sapphire and Chase Ink Bold offer a 25% points boost when you use your Ultimate Rewards Points to book travel through Chase. Also, the Starwood American Express nominally pays out in Starpoints, but you can trade 20,000 Starpoints for 25,000 miles on many major airlines for a value of 1.25 cents per Starpoint earned.

In terms of general flight booking, the Capital One Venture Rewards and BankAmericard Privileges with Travel Rewards offer some of the highest earning rates, and most flexible rewards, in the business.

“Both give two miles per $1 spent on all purchases, and allow you to redeem your miles against any travel expense, be it airfare, baggage fees, gas or meals in the hotel’s dining room,” explains Sekar. “Because you redeem your miles as a statement credit, you can be sure you’re getting the full one cent per point value.”

The Truth About Holiday Travel

If you’re traveling around the holidays, you’re going to need to be realistic. This is the time when flights are almost always going to be more expensive than other times of the year. Airlines understand on peak travel days, demand exceeds supply. In response, they increase prices, add surcharges and limit low fare options.

“If you went to Chicago last spring for $238 and now the fare is $320 over the holidays, don’t
assume that this is an aberration and it will come back down,” explains Klee. “Paying up to $100 more for a domestic flight during holiday time is, unfortunately, not uncommon. In fact, prices can go up even more than that if you don’t book far in advance.”

[Images via Shutterstock]

10 budgeting mistakes even smart travelers make

When traveling, it’s easy to go overboard and spend more money than you expected. What’s important is that you spend your extra cash having fun experiences instead of on mistakes that could have been prevented with some planning. Read these 10 common money mistakes often made by travelers to help save money on your next trip.

Mistake #1: Overpacking

This is a mistake that can rack up travel costs for many reasons. First of all, depending on what airline you are flying with, you may be charged a fee for each bag you bring. Not only that, but travelers must pay not only based on how many bags they bring, but also on how much they weigh. Once you are off the plane and at your accommodation, if you have brought more luggage than you can carry yourself you will have to consider porter and bellhop costs. Just do yourself a favor and only bring items you can see yourself using and wearing multiple times.Mistake #2: Not knowing the exchange rate

If you’re looking to save money, it’s a good idea to do a little research and figure out what destinations will give you the most mileage for your dollar. For example, many regions in Canada, Australia, and Western Europe have strong currencies, meaning you may end up losing money in the exchange. However, if you plan a trip to, say, Hanoi, Vietnam, or Prague in the Czech Republic, you can end up saving a lot of cash.

When traveling, you should also pay attention to what currency exchange offices offer the best rates. For instance, airport currency exchanges are usually not the best places to change your money.

Mistake #3: Forgetting to check the weather of your destination

Last June I went to Paris, France, traveling under the assumption that France is always hot (on television the French always seem to be sipping wine in sunny vineyards and relaxing in little clothing in quaint little cafes). If I had checked the weather beforehand, I would have known that shorts and sleeveless shirts were not practical for when I was going, and I wouldn’t have had to buy new clothing, a jacket, and an umbrella that I ended up leaving behind anyway.

The moral of the story? Check the weather of your destination before you leave so you can pack appropriately and save yourself from having to buy a whole new wardrobe.

Mistake #4: Not knowing international phone rates

If you really don’t need your phone, leave it home, as you can save a lot of added costs. There are many other ways to stay in touch with people at home, such as e-mail or web chat (find areas with free Wi-Fi or see if your hotel provides it). If you must have your phone, invest in an international calling plan. While every phone company offers a different plan, I have always found that services such as Skype and PennyTalk offer the best deals. Another low-cost option is to purchase a local SIM card in the country you are visiting.

Mistake #5: Traveling like everyone else

Not only is traveling during high-peak season more crowded and chaotic, it’s more expensive. If there’s an activity you love, try an off-the-beaten path destination to do it instead of following the crowd. Instead of going away in the summer, find a destination that offers your ideal weather in the spring. This can not only save you money, but can also introduce you to new, unexplored destinations.

Mistake #6: Not knowing the tipping etiquette

Tipping etiquette differs from country to country, so don’t just assume that just because in your home town you leave 20% gratuity when going out to eat you must do that everywhere. For example, an article on says that tipping in Fiji is discouraged, while a server in Mexico will expect a 10%-15% tip. Know the customs before you go to avoid throwing away money unnecessarily.

Mistake #7: Not purchasing travel insurance

While travel insurance isn’t free, it can also end up saving you a ton of money if an emergency does occur. Hospital bills, cancelled flights, and natural disasters aren’t cheap and you can get very affordable travel insurance plans at Access America and World Nomads. Also, if you have health insurance or a travel credit card at home, call their customer service numbers to ask what you are already covered for abroad.

Mistake #8: Not knowing your transportation options

While taxis may be the most convenient way to get around a place, they are often the most expensive. Using public transportation options such as trains, buses, tro-tros, tuk tuks, and metros can save travelers literally hundreds of dollars. If you are unsure of how to get to a place ask your accommodation to help you plan the cheapest route. Also, before even stepping on the plane to go abroad, contact your hotel and ask them what the most cost-efficient method to reach the hotel from the airport is, what stop to get off at, and specific walking directions.

Mistake #9: Not taking advantage of frequent flier programs

If you travel regularly, it pays to either signup for a frequent flier program or apply for a credit card that will give you miles. Having loyalty to specific airlines may be difficult for some people to commit to, however, it can lead to free flights and discounted travel.

Mistake #10: Always being a tourist

This is an easy mistake to make, as when people are in a place for the first time they usually end up being drawn to all the flashy signs and salespeople offering experiences at must-see attractions. While you should see the big sights, there are often free museums, open air entertainment, and complimentary attractions in every place you visit. This goes for restaurants, too. While the big, sparkling venue with the extensive (and pricey!) menu in English may look good, wouldn’t it be nice to have an authentic (and budget-friendly) dining experience at a smaller, local eatery? Street-food is also a money-saving option, as well as grocery stores (bonus if you’re accommodation has a kitchen or serves free breakfast). Also, ask your hotel when museums, restaurants, and attractions offer discounts and promotions, such as free entry on Monday nights at an art gallery or complimentary tapas at a Spanish restaurant with a drink purchase.