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Pay half as much for in-flight WiFi

So this is part flier tip, part tech hack; but you can pay almost half as much for wireless access for your laptop when flying. The trick is that the in-flight internet companies (GoGo etc) have much cheaper pricing for smartphones as they do for laptops. As of posting this smartphones were $7.95, laptops were $14.95. So the trick? Buy the smartphone access from your phone and then just tether it to your laptop. Your laptop will access the internet through the smartphone’s connection, and you will have got it for the reduced price.

Now for those of you with iPhones that are not jail-broken this may not be possible, but for unrestricted Andriod phones it can do this out of the box. Just connect it to your computer via USB or bluetooth and enable tethering!

***UPDATE
A reader wrote in an even easier way to do this straight from your laptop. Simply install a browser plugin that enables changing the ‘User Agent’ of your browser. This allows your browser to spoof that it is a mobile browser. One such plugin for Firefox is ‘User Agent Switcher‘.

Liquids in carry on

Heads up – from personal observations you don’t really need to follow that stupid ‘put liquids in a zip lock back and scan it separately thing’. The regulations say you do, but my

experience is that you don’t. I still make sure nothing is over 100ml, but I never bother taking it out of my bag or putting it in a zip-lock bag.

Flying from NYC to LAX or SFO

Not all direct flights between New York and the west coast cities are created equal. United runs a special service called ‘p.s.’ (premium service) between LAX and SFO to JFK. It’s a

Boeing 757 in a three-class configuration that only has 110 seats, which is way less than a 757 in a standard configuration. The classes are First, Business, and Premium economy. There is no regular economy, so you get the extra space included in the ticket. Typically the flights cost around the same as their non-PS counterparts, and all of the planes have Wi-fi and standard power outlets. Also given that there are less people on the plane as a whole it’s less of a scrum and a much more pleasant flying experience. So next time you are flying out west (or east) don’t book that similarly priced flight into Newark, book it into JFK and make sure it’s the PS service!

Note that Kayak doesn’t confirm that it is the PS service or not – you need to go through a booking process on United.com and it will tell you which plane it is before you buy. Some flights out of JFK with United are regular 737-800s. Yuck!

 

Always print/email your boarding pass before you go to the airport

Although many airlines and airports are moving towards boarding passes you can show on your smartphone, many still require the paper kind. If and when you can, you should always have this before you go to the airport. Why? Most airport kiosks cut off printing

boarding passes 45-60 minutes before your flight time. In reality if you don’t have any checked luggage you can get to the airport 30 minutes before your flight and still make it to the gate in time. If however you miss the kiosk cut-off, you have to wait in line for an agent and if they do print it out for you (which is not a given), you might not make your flight after you finish waiting in line. It’s happened to me more than once, and there’s nothing more painful than missing your flight because you couldn’t just walk straight up to the security line.

A storm’s brewing

There’s nothing worse than having a flight delayed, canceled, or getting stuck overnight in a connecting city. Next time you book that super cheap flight with a connection, think about the airport and time of year you are flying. In spring and summer thunderstorms can ground flights for a particular region. In winter snowstorms can mess up the whole country. My advice is during times of year where weather can be bad try to buy direct flights, and choose morning flight times. Summer storms usually occur in the afternoon or early evening. Winter storms affect flights at the end of the day the most.

When booking two seats

Always book an aisle and a window. This way you have a better chance that someone is not going to take the middle seat and leave you with the extra space. If it is booked you can easily exchange one of your seats with the person to sit together. Also ideally book them towards the back of the plane, preferably a few rows up from the rear toilets. People typically take the seats closer to the front so if you’re near the back you’ll have the greatest chance of the extra seat being free!

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