A couple of years ago, I worked as a cargo agent at my local airport. During that time, I had the opportunity to get an inside look at the airline industry and learned some travel tips and tricks!
1. Book your airfare about three months out from your trip. Most early-posted tickets will be more expensive and slowly decrease over time. At the three-month mark, demand algorithms start to take effect. If there is a demand for your flight, especially if you’re going to a tourist-heavy destination like Orlando or San Diego, the tickets will start to increase. Aim to reserve your tickets for those destinations around three months out.
Is your destination less desirable, such as Indianapolis in the winter? Your tickets will continue to decrease for about another month before last-minute airfare pricing takes effect. In that case, you can take a gamble and purchase your tickets two months in advance for the best deal.
2. If you have checked luggage, don’t fly through Salt Lake City. Oh. My. Goodness. The sheer number of cargo that was lost in SLC. It was unreal. I don’t know why checked baggage and cargo gets lost at SLC, but it does. I try to avoid transferring through Salt Lake City when at all possible.
3. When you travel at altitude, food and drink will taste different. The combination of cabin pressure and low humidity suppresses your sense of smell, interfering with your ability to taste. Sweet, fruity flavors that are highly aromatic are the most impacted. You’re better off choosing savory, or umami, flavors. If you want to order a glass of wine on your trip, avoid rosé wines and choose a pinot noir instead. Ask for tomato or cranberry juice rather than apple.
4. Avoid ordering tea or coffee in flight. All of the in-flight beverage options are pre-packaged except for tea and coffee, which are brewed using the airplane’s tap water. Unfortunately, there is a lot of leeway of how often airplane water tanks need to be disinfected. The EPA relies on self-reporting to monitor drinking water quality. Airlines are required to test for e. coli in their drinking water annually and water tanks are only required to be cleaned four times a year.
In a statement for the New York Post, Charles Platkin, a professor of nutrition and the executive director of the Food Policy Center stated, “Planes come in, [and the tanks are] not being emptied and cleaned, because there is no time for that. The water tank is being filled on top [after] each usage. Whatever would be on the bottom stays there and sits there.“
Fun fact: the water tank that services the kitchen is also used for the bathroom facet. I recommend using hand sanitizer after using the facilities.
If I want coffee, I bring my coffee travel mug through security and take advantage of the coffee shops in the terminals. It isn’t free, but at least I know that it won’t be contaminated by e. coli. When getting coffee in the terminal, I recommend purchasing from chains like Starbucks and Peets. These companies standardize their pricing, so you won’t be hit with the huge airport upcharge.
5. Sit in the back of the plane. Everyone aims to get front seats in airplanes to quickly disembark upon landing. But, hear me out, the back is better. People who sit in the very front or very back of the plane have the least amount of contact with other people, allowing you to better avoid germs and the dreaded plane-plague.
Sitting in the back of the plane also makes it easier to receive freebies. It’s easier for stewards to slip something a little extra if you ask. Airline stewardess Annie Kingston told the Oyster, “We like to avoid responding to call bells from the front of the plane because answering one means potentially flaunting whatever item the passenger has requested to everyone else along the way.“
Safe and happy adventures!
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