questionsdo you have some tips on frequent flying and…

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Give the TSA officer a friendly pat on the butt as you pass through security. They love that.

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I used to be a road warrior. This may be a multipart post (at least you're asking something interesting, and thank you).

All airlines are not created equal. Kayak is probably a MUCH better site than the intensely advertised, yet not very useful, travelocity/orbitz crew.

Show up and try for an exit row (no kids on exit rows). Invest in Bose or other noise canceling headphones. Spend the money, don't buy crap. Practice smart packing. Hotels have shampoo. No need to pack yours. I always take coffee filters, and have been known to haul my own 4-cup coffee pot, pre-ground coffee, and filters, and make my own.

I'll be back in a bit with more stuff.

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@wingnutzero: HA! I was discussing that bit with some friends. Has it really gotten that bad or is it just rabble talk? Its been a couple since I've flown last.

@shrdlu: Thank you! Always need a good kick/shove/beating in the right direction. I shall check out Kayak.

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Do you have a feel for itinerary? You know, major cities, states, random airports? Midwest Airlines is a class act, if it happens that they're on your route. I don't have the link handy, but there's at least one good place that shows you the seating arrangement for any flight, any airlines. Red eye flights used to be a win, back in the day, but with the cattle car treatment you get nowadays, the risk of exhausted, screaming children is higher than in the day.

Early flights are better than later, since the travelers on them are serious. Lazy people like me for for later flights. Try to avoid Friday afternoon, or Sunday afternoon, or Monday morning. Get a frequent flyer number for every single airline you might get on. It's not like they charge you, and you never know which one will turn out to be a win.

If you have long flights, American Airlines has power in many of the rows (think laptop).

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To add to @shrdlu's post, I also love Midwest, but they are now under the Frontier Airlines umbrella.

I've heard good things about Yapta.com (Your Awesome Personal Travel Assistant). You can track rates and they'll notify you to apply for a rate drop credit when eligible. It'll search the other aggregators (travelocity, kayak, expedia, orbitz, etc.) also.

Also, I hear Southwest Airlines doesn't let you book online unless it's at southwest.com (i.e. you can't find their rates through other aggregators. Make sure to check if they're going where you want to go: since they bought fuel-cost insurance before the price hikes, they were able to keep a lot of the features lost by other airlines, like some free checked bags and in-flight munchies.

I'm interested to see where this goes since my mom and I are hoping to fly in June, but if we can't find better prices we'll be driving.

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@perkalicious11: I'd forgotten about that particular loss. Frontier was never my favorite. Too bad, I really liked Midwest.

It is unwise for ANY business traveler to use the aggregator sites. If you are booked with connecting flights, where (no real names on purpose) JoeBob Express connects with MabelJo Flights, you will have to go through baggage claim to pick UP your luggage, and then go back in through security, and recheck your luggage. BTDT. More than once. This is only one example.

You can use the aggregator sites to find a low fare, and then use that information to book the flight through that airline's portal. If you are flying through your workplace, you may already have an agent who arranges flights, or at least an agency that you are working through. One thing that a travel agent gets you (and this is IMPORTANT) is that when a flight is canceled, you will be taken care of before the vacation travelers.

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You didn't say whether your travel was arranged through work, or that you'd have to do it on your own. The way your question was phrased, it seems to me that the former is probably true. If not, you should get a travel agent (investigate them first, please).

Invest in good luggage, also. Gate checking is good, but make SURE that anything you gate check is going on the plane with you (I've seen things left behind for the next flight). Don't overpack. Learn the art of doing with less. Make up a permanent travel bag, and make sure that you have the minimum of personal care products, so that you aren't spending money at the hotel store.

I had shampoo, conditioner (I have allergies to perfume), bar of soap, basic cosmetics, nail clippers, hairbrush, etc etc. I'm female, you sound male, so yours will be different. Your alias says knappybeard. If bearded, you will need a comb to make sure it's knappy, not knotty.

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I believe my employer allows us to use the work agent to book personal flights. Your employer might do the same. It's worth investigating. HR would know.

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@perkalicious11: Thank you for the links!

@shrdlu: Its mostly going to be for work. I am the royal bearded lady and I must travel on the winds. Did you buy that?

Right now, my itinerary is a nebulous thing. As of now I am confirmed for Florida and New Mexico. I'm asking this before time because I know very little about flying and all that it entails.

Lucky for me, my mother use to work for John Heart so luggage is set. Sounds like my travel kit mirrors yours mostly so thats set.

As for the beard, well, its more groomed facial hair now so its not so knappy anymore.

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@happyknappybeard: Miami is a decent airport. If at all possible, always book Hertz for the car. Get a gold card with Hertz. I don't know whether that costs money (mine was a gift from American Airlines, eons ago). Why Hertz?

1. They are always the most convenient to the airport. Sometimes they're the only one on the property (the others will be a bus ride). Other than DFW (my very LEAST favorite for car rental...shakes fist at DFW), you get the car quicker, and we could be talking as much as 30 minutes in difference.

2. If you have a gold card, then (when you arrive) your name is on a board, with the parking space number that your already prepared for you car is in.

New Mexico (I'm figuring Albuquerque) is unknown to me. I know Miami better, and Orlando's also pretty good. Funny, I really like DFW for connecting flights, and when visiting DD, but the car rental situation would suck my will to live.

Travelers need change for Tolls. You never know.

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@happyknappybeard: Florida? Where in Florida, might I ask?

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@shrdlu: Here's an age marker for you: I used to fly in and out of the Orlando airport when it was one sort-of-big room with Pan Am on one side and Eastern on the other. Restrooms were (I kid you not) down an outside sidewalk in a separate little building. I once ran into Pat Boone shepherding a couple his daughters off the plane I was about to board.

Ah, the good old days.

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@shrdlu: "Travelers need change for Tolls. You never know."

Some rental car companies (Avis, for one) are now providing an in-car transponder for electronic tolls. There is a special box on the windshield that, when closed, shields the radio signal from the sensors, allowing you to pay tolls with cash. Flip the unit open and it exposes the transponder. The rental car company charges you after the fact for your tolls as well as (sometimes) a service fee.

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@durkzilla: Yes, this is true. There are some down sides to using this. I won't discuss them here (or privately, either), but you can hit google if you're curious.

In addition, not all tolls (even in a state where these are useful) take electronic tolls. You still need change. You never know.

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You might take a look at these two frequent flyer sites:

www.flyertalk.com www.milepoint.com

Flyertalk has been around for several years and holds a wealth of information. Milepoint officially launched today (March 1, 2010), also contains a wealth of information, and was founded by the founder of Flyertalk. All kinds of valuable information is available on both sites.

If you can, try to stick with one carrier so you can accumulate miles in a single account. Determine which alliance (Star Alliance, One World, SkyTeam) and major carrier are best for you considering your location and FF travel goals. Also consider hotel, rental car alliances, and credit card alliances where you can transfer points to your airline account.

RE: Trying to sleep on a plane with screaming babies, other noise you can't control. Quality earplugs, a sleep mask, a glass of red wine work wonders. BOSE noise-canceling headphones are worth it, but others swear by in-ear noise canceling headphones.

Cheers, RS

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Here's a good tip I got on a flight from Raleigh to Memphis: If you have a smartphone, download the free version of TripIt. This app allows you to forward travel confirmation e-mails to their server where it organizes your entire itinerary (hotel, car, flight) by dates. No more printing confirmations and writing down reservation numbers! I love it (especially on multi-city trips!

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@shrdlu: "you will have to go through baggage claim to pick UP your luggage, and then go back in through security, and recheck your luggage"

I don't think that's universally true. If it is, it must be a fairly new policy. I've had a few trips where I've flown multiple airlines and I've never had to do that. That said, I'd still agree that you should avoid it. If your flight is delayed and you miss a connection on a different airline, it can be a HUGE mess. And some airports aren't laid out in a way that switching airlines is easy. O'Hare has practically no signage between concourses and it can be a looong walk. And g*d help you if you have to connect between terminals in DTW.

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@mrzman: No, not universally true, but you don't want to find out that it's true for you, when you might not be expecting it. Playing that game is fine if you're a casual traveler, but an extremely bad idea when you're traveling for business. Showing up late is bad.

BTW, I'll bet anything you meant DFW and not DTW. I've been at one side of the airport, needing to be at the other side, more times than I can count. At least they have trains. SEA is a virtual nightmare on the plane changing business (and they were great BEFORE they redesigned everything). Yes on O'Hare, too. Atlanta's also crazy unless you are flying Delta.

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@shrdlu: No, DTW has 2 entirely separate terminal buildings, one for Delta/Skyteam and another for everyone else. There's no physical connection between them. There's just a shuttle, but it only runs every 10 minutes or so. It used to be outside the secured area too, but that might have changed with the opening of the new terminal.

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I think the best tip to give about flying is DON'T!

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@mrzman: Ah, crap. My bad. Detroit, not Dallas. I've flown into Ann Arbor plenty of times, but to my knowledge, I've never been in that airport.

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Not really a flying tip, but also remember to sign up for the Rewards Clubs with the hotels. The points can add up quickly and some can even be used for merchandise purchases.

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@happyknappybeard: continental and northwest allow you choose your seats. You can sign up for more than one airline's frequent flyer programs. Once you have enough miles and qualify for elite flying you even get a better choice of seats soon. Always order the Kosher or Vegetarian Meal via the website, it means you won't get nasty mystery meat. Few Airlines hand out peanuts now, it is mostly pretzels.

I agree with the post above too, don't forget hotels and rental agencies they have frequent buyer programs as well.

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Whoa! I was expecting this to fall out of the deal realm yesterday. Thanks for all the info @all ! This is a ton of food for my brains and a lot of handy tips I didn't know about till now. This is defiantly what I needed to get started. You guys are handy...just like I'm expecting those TSA fellas to be. I guess they are more handsy than handy...

@magic_cave: I'll be around the area of Kissimmee and Lakeland. I've Never been to either.

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@happyknappybeard: FWIW, I liked your previous title better. ;)

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@perkalicious11: You can't blame the sods cough cough I mean mods too much...I may have worded the title a little ambiguous for my own intentions... :P

I just wish they could have come up with a little more catchy of a title. How dare they desecrate my tribute to 90's rap/pop! First "F" stands for fresh. Secound "F" stands for something diff'rent! The "P" stands for...errr programs?