32 The Costco Connection FEBRUARY 2017
next question: Can you tell me the location of aircraft 123? It’s in Madison,
Wisconsin? You have just confirmed that
you won’t be on time to Miami. And since
you established this information before
you’ve left for the airport, you can ask the
airline to rebook you on the next flight.
Think of how much time and anxiety
Also, this is the time to think alternate airports: Providence, Rhode Island,
instead of Boston; Milwaukee instead of
Chicago; Oakland instead of San
Francisco; and so on.
Boarding passes. I’m a big fan of printing them the night before on your computer. Many travelers like having them
stored in their phones. I’m old-school and
believe in having a backup paper trail in
case of problems with the electronics.
At the airport
Avoid the crowds. If you have an ear-
ly-morning flight, ask your cab driver or
friend to take you to the arrivals area, not
the departures area. You’ll save at least 10
minutes in traffic gridlock, as very few peo-
ple are arriving at 6 or 7 in the morning.
(Plus, you’ve very wisely couriered the bag-
gage you otherwise would have checked.)
Pull up to the curb, with your printed
boarding pass in hand, and head to the
When you return, if your arrival is at
the end of the day, have your ride meet you
at the departure level. More often than
not, the arrivals area will be crowded with
people, cars and traffic officers not allowing anyone to wait. Upstairs at departures,
it’s empty. Again, you’ll save at least 10
minutes of congestion and get to leave the
airport ahead of everyone else, since
most of them are downstairs
anxiously awaiting their bags.
Navigating the security
line. Now, which security
any construction taking place? Every hotel
rotates certain floors or wings when it
comes to refurbishment or renovations. If
you don’t ask that question, you could be
handed the keys to the jackhammer suite.
• Is my room above the hotel ballroom?
This might mean your room will be subject
to noise, not just during any party or event
that might take place there, but also when
they’re throwing out all the beverage bottles after the event.
• What floors have booster pumps?
It seems like a silly question, and it might
get you an initial stare from the clerk. But
it’s an important question if you want
great water pressure in your hotel room
shower. Here’s the problem: Many hotels
can’t maintain consistently strong water
pressure throughout the building, so they
install extra booster pumps on certain
floors. Pick a hotel room on a floor where
they have booster pumps, walk into your
bathroom, turn on the shower faucet and
boom!—the pressure is like a fire hose.
If there’s no room. What should you do
if a hotel tells you there are no rooms
available? Say, “I’ll be happy to stay in one
of your out-of-order rooms.” An out-of-order room? Every hotel has a few—rooms
with a stain on the carpet, or where the
mirror is cracked or the headboard is broken. If you’re willing to live with those
imperfections, most hotels will give you
the room, at a steep discount.
Last but not least, if an airline or airport representative was nice and helpful, or if a hotel employee went above and
beyond, do what my mother always told
me to do (and mothers are always correct):
Get their name and address—and perhaps the name of their immediate supervisor—and write a thank-you letter. In
the world of travel, it’s all about relationships and the idea that you are returning. A thank-you goes a long way. C
© DAVID W. SCHNEIDER
TRAVELING WITH EASE
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 31
line do you choose? Don’t go by the length
of the line. Instead, look at the conveyor
belt’s TV security monitor. How many
Transportation Security Administration
(TSA) officers are looking at the screen? If
there’s only one, then pick that line, no
matter how long it seems. Why? Because if
two officers are watching that screen, it
means the TSA is training one of them,
and every bag will be stopped for two minutes or more for additional inspection as
part of the training process.
Departure boards. In my experience,
departure boards have only one useful
purpose: to tell you the departure gate
for your flight. Once you determine that,
look immediately at the arrivals board and
see what’s arriving at that gate. If nothing
is showing up at that gate until next
Tuesday, head for the nearest agent to
find out what’s going on.
Renting a car
Before you drive off the rental car lot,
take out your cellphone, walk around the
vehicle and take time- and date-coded
pictures of the outside and inside condition of the car. It will take you only five
minutes, but it’s your protection against
getting hit with a huge damage bill when
you return the car. Why should you pay for
the dings of a previous renter? The photos
are your insurance policy.
Tips for the hotel
Stock the minibar. If you’re staying in a
city for two days or more, do what I do: Call
the hotel and ask them to empty the mini-
bar. Stop en route at a local supermarket
and buy all the food items, juices and soft
drinks you want.
Get the right room. Ask the
following questions before
the front desk clerk hands
you your room key:
• Is my room close to
© OLENA YAKOBCHUK/SHUTTERSTOCK