Americans get testy when it comes to dealing with long lines at the airport and confined spaces inside the airplane. But there are ways to streamline your travel to make your journey more convenient. Given that American business travelers take over 500 million trips each year, according to Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), you can save yourself a whole lot of frustration by streamlining your travel practices.
streamline your travel
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- Choose simpler rewards card programs
Passengers have grown frustrated by credit card rewards programs that are difficult to use at airlines, hotels, rental cars and other travel-related providers. Nearly two-thirds (64.7 percent) of reward card holders surveyed prefer a simpler rewards program over one that is complex but potentially more rewarding, according to the Capital One Rewards Card Outlook. The reason is that more than half (51.9 percent) of those surveyed find rotating categories — which comprise a majority of rewards card programs — frustrating or confusing.
Some in the industry are simplifying card rewards programs in order to improve the customer experience. For example, Capital One’s Venture and Quicksilver cards feature unlimited rewards that don’t expire, are easy to redeem and have no foreign transaction fees. So if you sign up for a loyalty program, make sure to read the details so that you can actually redeem your cash back, miles rewards, discounts and other benefits. Easy-to-use travel discounts can streamline your travel.
Finally, loyalty points have a monetary value that range from fractions of a penny to a few cents per point. So when a business traveler accumulates a ton of miles or points, unused rewards can add up to a tidy sum. Recent data are scarce, but research firm Colloquy estimated that in 2011, $48 billion worth of rewards, or one-third of total loyalty points in the U.S., went unclaimed.
- Become TSA compliant
Enrolling in TSA’s PreCheck Program can also streamline your travel experience. You’ll be able to glide through security since you won’t have to remove shoes, laptops, liquids and other items. In November 2016, 96 percent of PreCheck passengers waited less than five minutes in line, according to TSA’s website. Also, you might want to get a TSA-approved laptop bag so you won’t have to remove your device for inspection. And bring travel-size toiletries and consolidate them in a single Ziploc bag so you’re ready to go.
- Go paperless
Paper can be a hassle when traveling. Going digital is a good way to streamline your travel experience.
“A common frustration is airplane tickets and boarding passes because some airlines still use paper — some use digital and the ones that do all seem to have their own system and apps,” says Jason Welsh, a travel expert who has accumulated over 200,000 reward miles. “Things could be much simpler if tickets and boarding passes were standardized.”
Download your airline’s mobile app so you can check in early, and get real-time updates on flight delays, gate changes and weather conditions. See if your airline provides mobile electronic passes so you won’t have to print and carry paper tickets. And to get the cheapest fares, some travel experts advise passengers to buy their plane ticket at least two months in advance. Also, fares can be lower if you purchase late at night, when everyone is sleeping and website traffic is low.
- Track your luggage
Airlines lose over 20 million luggage bags each year. While most travelers are able to get their lost luggage within one to three days, the misplacement can cause a ton of inconvenience when you’re attending a key business meeting or conference. WorldTracer.com can streamline your travel experience by giving you real-time updates on the status of your lost bag, and the site works with 2,800 airports worldwide.