Insider Tips on Getting VIP Treatment
Monday, July 11, 2011
All travel is not created equally. If you know the system, there are plenty of ways to do things better, faster and cheaper than other travelers. Sometimes it’s as easy as asking or doing a little advanced planning.
There’s no reason not to join the free loyalty program for the hotel, car rental company and airline on your agenda. With Club CarlsonSM your hotel stays can quickly add up to points redeemable for free hotel nights, airline miles and even gift cards. Once you achieve an elite level, you’ll also be eligible for benefits such as room upgrades and late checkouts.
Likewise, by opting for the same airline each time you fly (when it’s possible) you’ll build up mileage points for future flights. But these days, what is even more appealing to travelers is that once you earn elite status, you can take advantage of perks such as waived baggage fees and upgrades for you and a companion.
The Airline Seat Shuffle
Even if you don’t have elite status, you can still try and get your favorite spot on the plane. When you make your reservation, go ahead and select the best seat available at the time. If you prefer a different seat, pull up your itinerary on the airline website using your confirmation number. You should be able to view the open seats on the plane and change seats if you’d like. You can do this as many as four or five times leading up to departure and move your seat to a better one. Elite status members are upgraded 24 to 48 hours before a flight, leaving their seats in coach up for grabs.
And if you’re wondering which seat to jockey for, take a look at SeatGuru to see detailed seating charts organized by airline. SeatGuru alerts you to seats with obstructions, those that do not recline, etc.
Breeze Through Checkpoints
Standing in line can be frustrating. Many airports, thankfully, now have separate lanes for different types of travel. If you get in the expert traveler lane, chances are you’ll get through faster. Just make sure you know the TSA guidelines and have your ID ready.
Another option is to pick a different checkpoint. People generally funnel from the ticketing counter to the nearest security line. If you know the lay of the land, you may find that a short walk leads you to a wide-open checkpoint.
Sometimes, all you have to do is ask and you can get the VIP treatment without an extra penny. When you book your hotel room, ask about transportation from the airport. You may find that a car service sedan is the same price as a taxi. Also, let them know if you prefer a certain floor or view. If your flight is full, ask about compensation options for switching to a different flight. Many travel perks are available just by asking politely. You might be surprised by the answers you get!