Come March 29, 2019, Great Britain is due to leave the European Union. So far, the opposing sides of the change—those who favor leaving without making any border or trade deals, and those hoping international partnerships are maintained—have not reached agreement on the specific terms. And time is running out.
A “hard” 2019 Brexit is possible and nebulous, and even a “soft” negotiated-borders deal will likely result in some changes.
Weighing a Hard Brexit in 2019
What will this mean for visiting the U.K. and Europe, specifically? Here’s what American travelers who plan to visit Britain and the E.U. next year need to know.
Deal or not, the actual process of traveling from the U.S. or Canada to Britain will remain largely (if not completely) the same, given North American relationships with the U.K. aren’t directly affected.
Traveling between Britain and Europe will also probably change very little, if any: Britain never joined the Schengen “open borders” system for travel throughout Europe, so those traveling between the England and Schengen countries—virtually all of Europe—must already go through passport control. Britain obviously never adopted the Euro, and although the pound hit a 31-year low following the Brexit vote, England’s currency has bounced back strongly.
So except for a few adjustments in passport control lines, the experience of travel between Europe and Britain will essentially remain as it is. The biggest Brexit repercussions are likely to be for trade and possibly for Europeans living and working in the U.K.—not tourists. But questions remain.
Travelers’ Rights and Airline Structure
The most significant potential travel change falls under international travel rights. After Brexit, trips within Britain and on British-based airlines would no longer fall under E.U. consumer protection rules. Those rules—most notably compensation for delays—are much stronger than American rules, and European and British airlines call them too strict. The post-Brexit British government could decide to write its own new rules, and you can bet that the British lines will press hard for less generous traveler compensation for delays. But there is a chance England could maintain the current formulation.
Although even a no-deal Brexit would have a minimal impact on the way visitors tour through the area, a no-deal Brexit could have a substantial impact on the structure of the airline business and the way airlines operate in the area. Among the key problems:
Foreign Ownership Limits: As in the U.S., European countries limit the amount of foreign ownership allowed for airlines headquartered in-country. When the E.U. was considered one country for airline purposes, these limits raised no problems. But if the remaining E.U. and Britain are separate, airlines based in both areas could face problems.
Ryanair, based in the E.U. (Ireland) operates a lot of British flights, for example. And EasyJet, based in Britain, operates a lot of E.U. flights. IAG owns airlines that are based in both Britain and the E.U., including British Airways, Aer Lingus, and Iberia. These and other lines have already established alternative corporate bases in both areas, but a hard Brexit could still pose many ownership problems and even demand major restructuring.
Traffic Rights: Currently, E.U. airlines enjoy “open skies” for trips within the region. But if Britain leaves, there is a serious possibility that British-based lines would have to negotiate traffic rights with either all of the E.U. or even individual E.U. countries. And there’s no guarantee that both sides would readily agree to continued, unlimited traffic rights. A hard exit could result in substantial loss of individual air routes, like the competitive budget ones that have made transatlantic travel so much cheaper in recent years.
Air Traffic Control and Safety: As with traffic rights, a separate E.U. and Britain might instate requirements for mutual overflight requests. Again, in a hard Brexit there’s no guarantee that all the players would agree. Which could add yet another layer of problems to a traffic control function already burdened by fragmentation—and this could add to flight delays.
Presumably, no kind of Brexit would result in a meaningful difference in safety standards. But safety issues could result in downstream problems with accident investigation, certification of new airplanes, and other safety standards.
The chance of a hard exit remains substantial. Both sides have dug in on their positions, and nobody has yet floated a promising compromise proposal. Clear heads would point to the necessity of a soft Brexit as the many changes are navigated, but clear heads don’t always prevail in political matters.
It’s even still possible that Britain will reverse Brexit entirely: Several prominent British voices are calling for a new Brexit vote. And a hard Brexit could add fuel to the fire of Scottish succession: The last vote was close, and Scotland and Northern Ireland have been vocal about wanting to remain in the E.U.
Hard or soft, Brexit will almost surely add at least some complexity and barriers to travel between Britain and Europe. That means likely fare increases and reduced competition for travelers, even in the softest Brexit. But the picture will become clearer as we approach March.
AmazonBasics Retractable Lighting to USB Cable
This is one of my favorite underrated and best travel tech gadgets out there. It's super compact, inexpensive, and ideal for travel. Whether you're using your laptop, a backup charger, or an outlet to recharge your device, the two-foot long cord adjusts to the length you need.
We've rated the goTenna before, but the company just released goTenna Mesh, available for pre-order and shipping this May. The Mesh is more portable than the original and is water-resistant, lighter, and has over 24 hours of battery life on standby. You can download offline maps with the device without any service, as well as send private messages, and share and request location information with other goTenna users.
It's a great travel tech gadget for those going on camping or hiking trips, or if you're in a country with little to no cell service.
The new Chipolo Plus is a tracking device for travelers. Place it on your backpack, on your key ring, in your wallet, or whatever object you don't want to lose. The new model needs no battery replacement and is water-resistant. Chipolo tracks your phone as well—just double press any of the devices and your phone will ring, even it it's on silent.
Nothing ruins a day of sightseeing like not being able to see properly. Finding a new pair of glasses or contacts while away from home is no easy task, and if you’re in a foreign country, you might have to find a new eye doctor to write you a prescription.
How to Remember: If you primarily wear contacts, always leave extras in your luggage when you’re not traveling. If you’re out for the day, try to keep a spare set in your purse or wallet in case you find yourself in need of a fresh pair. If you’re worried about leaving your glasses at home, keep them out in the open while you pack, preferably near your wallet or phone. This way, they’ll be less likely to slip your mind when it’s time to go.
When you forget to pack the essentials, you risk ruining your own trip. Whether you’re missing details of the Sistine Chapel’s colorful ceilings because you forgot your glasses or stuck inside your hotel room battling a cold while the rest of your travel companions hit the beach, you’ll definitely regret not giving your luggage a thorough check for the most commonly forgotten things to pack.
Essential Things People Forget to Pack
Even if you’re naturally forgetful, there are many ways to plan your packing ahead of time so you won’t forget to pack these essential travel items.
myCharge PowerCord Go
The PowerCord Go iPhone/Micro is another perfect travel tech gadget for charging. You can't beat the portability and discreteness of this charger; just attach to a key ring or loop on your backpack and you're ready to go.
When you go to check into a flight or hotel and something’s not right with the reservation, you’ll want to have your itinerary and confirmation emails handy.
How to Remember: Since you might not always have Wi-Fi, screenshot everything and keep it in an organized folder on your phone. Or go old-school and print out a hard copy. You can even keep it all organized in one of these nifty travel binders.
These 10 travel tech gadgets are all-the-rage for travelers this year. From dual chargers to retractable iPhone cords, you’ll want to travel with these gadgets for your phone for the rest of the year.
Oaxis Air Scale
This device can not only weigh your travel bag: It's also a portable phone charger. The digital luggage scale can handle a weight up to 88 pounds, and it has a 2.4A output for super-fast charging with a USB and Micro-USB port. Despite its dual functions it weighs only 5.5 oz.—making it one of the best travel tech gadgets this year.
Ventev chargestand 3000c
Long flight on the horizon? Take the Ventev chargestand with you to keep your phone charged, plus it doubles as a stand so you can binge watch your favorite shows all flight long. The stand will charge your phone for up to 12 hours of talk time, and can be used in both the vertical and horizontal positions. The built-in lightning cable means traveling with less cords, and it makes for a great charging station on your hotel nightstand.
If you forget your passport, you’ll need to turn right back home and go get it. And if you don’t make it back to your flight on time, you’ll probably have to pay a fee to get booked on another flight and risk losing a day of travel.
How to Remember: Your passport should be the very first thing you grab when you start packing for an international trip. If you often have trouble remembering where you put it, get yourself a nice passport holder and the Tile Mate. Just slip the Tile into the holder and link it to the app on your phone, and you’ll be able to find your passport at the touch of a button.
A Rain Jacket
A hairbrush is one of the most common things people forget to pack, but you’ll feel this one the hardest when you face your bedhead in the mirror every morning. Hotels often offer complimentary combs, but if you’re particular about your hair, as many travelers are, you’ll want to make sure you’ve packed the right tools to tame it.
How to Remember: Invest in a good fold-up brush to keep in your toiletry kit. You’ve probably tangoed with the cheaper end of the fold-up brush spectrum, but the TOUCHBeauty Detangling Brush is a quality option that promises silky hair and gives a good scalp massage.
Aukey Optic Pro Phone Lens
I've already raved about the Aukey Ora 2-in-1 Lens Kit, but the latest travel tech gadget from the company, the Optic Pro, is just as noteworthy. The telephoto lens is perfect for group shots and distance objects (think your favorite landmarks) and is easily affixed to your smartphone with the included clip—no need to take your phone case off. It also comes with a cleaning cloth, carrying pouch, and a two-year warranty.
If you do find a runny nose or throbbing headache ruining your trip, you’ll want to make sure you have the right remedy on hand. Keeping a small bottle of ibuprofen, capsules of cold medicine, or other over-the-counter remedies at the ready means you won’t have to interrupt your trip with a visit to the pharmacy.
How to Remember: Always travel with a first-aid kit and keep the medicine you need well stocked. Look for a small bag like this 100-Piece Kit and keep it ready to go in your preferred day bag. If you need to travel with your prescription medication and don’t already use a pill organizer, bring one along. Travel sometimes means crossing timezones, so a weekly organizer can help you keep track of your pill schedule when the days start to blur together.
Glasses & Contacts
According to pilots flying Boeing’s 737 MAX for both American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, they were not made aware of a crucial change in an automatic system that has been linked to the fatal Lion Air crash last month.
In October, a Lion Air flight crashed into the sea just off the coast of Indonesia, killing all 189 people on board. Now, investigators are focusing their efforts on figuring out if the plane crashed because of an update to a safety system that was designed to pull the plane out of a dangerous stall, The New York Times reported. Investigators believe the system may have been triggered on inaccurate data transmitted or processed from sensors on the fuselage, causing the plane to nosedive into the water.
According to The Times, Boeing has been busy selling the new 737s to different airlines and showcasing it as a plane that needed little to no additional pilot training, which is an attractive financial incentive for airlines.
But, according to the pilots union for American Airlines, the system upgrade wasn’t included in Boeing’s standard operating manual.
“We don’t like that we weren’t notified,” Jon Weaks, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, told TIME. Dennis Tajer, a 737 captain and spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association at American Airlines Group Inc., additionally noted that his union members were equally concerned about the omitted information.
“This is not about silos and layers of bureaucracy, this is about knowing your airplane,” Tajer said. “We will always be eager and aggressive in gaining any knowledge of new aircraft.”
And, because of this lack of communication, pilots are now left wondering if Boeing left anything else out.
“The companies and the pilots should have been informed,” Weaks said. “It makes us question, ‘Is that everything, guys?’ I would hope there are no more surprises out there.”
However, according to a Boeing spokesperson, the company is doing everything it can to ensure pilots are well prepared to fly the planes.
“We are taking every measure to fully understand all aspects of this incident, working closely with the investigating team and all regulatory authorities involved,” the company shared in a statement with TIME. “Safety remains our top priority and is a core value for everyone at Boeing.”
But, according to Roger Cox, a retired investigator with the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board and a former airline pilot who spoke to TIME, crews have every right to be angry at Boeing.
“I would be pretty pissed” about the missing information, he said. “This is important systems information that pilots should know about.”
PhoneSoap 2.0 UV Sanitizer and Phone Charger
This device can not only weigh your travel bag: It's also a portable phone charger. The digital luggage scale can handle a weight up to 88 pounds, and it has a 2.4A output for super-fast charging with a USB and Micro-USB port. Despite its dual functions it weighs only 5.5 oz.—making it one of the best travel tech gadgets this year.
Delayed flights can truly be the worst. And they can cause a wide variety of reactions from passengers. Some people are perfectly calm and polite despite the bad news, others become angry with the crew or airline, some may even cry or yell.
But there are some responses that are just straight up overreactions – like setting your own possessions on fire.
One irate passenger actually did decide that arson was the only way to respond to his delayed flight on Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), according to Dawn.
PIA Flight PK-607, bound for Gilgit, Pakistan at 7 a.m. local time, was delayed on Thursday for technical reasons, and then ultimately canceled due to bad weather at Islamabad Airport.
At this point, some passengers shouted in protest and pushed airport personnel over the cancelation, according to Dawn. But one passenger took it one — or maybe a thousand— steps further.
A video of the passenger was posted on Facebook.
Luckily, no one was actually hurt in the fire and it was put out by Civil Aviation Authority fire fighters.
Despite the fires and protest, the flight cancelation was actually quite routine. Flights around the world get canceled due to technical problems and weather all the time. But it’s rare for a purposeful fire to break out.
A PIA spokesperson told Dawn that passengers were moved to hotels to await a new flight, which was scheduled for them on Friday – all in all, a fairly predictable protocol.
“No airline can risk flying a passenger plane in bad weather,” the spokesperson said.
The site reported that PIA “has opted to forgive and forget the incident that happened at Islamabad International Airport on November 15.”
There have been no police or government reports regarding the incidents, according to History of PIA.
There’s a mounting possibility of a big shake-up in how you purchase your airfare, some travel outlets report: Major airlines might soon employ a new technology called dynamic pricing to assign different fares to different types of air passengers without their knowledge.
In fact, sources say, some airlines are probably using a rudimentary version of dynamic pricing already. It seems any time an airline thinks it can squeeze more money out of each passenger, you can bet it will. Here are nine questions you might have about dynamic pricing, answered to reveal how the technology could affect you.
What is dynamic pricing?
The fundamentals of dynamic pricing are simple: When you search for an airfare, an airline uses information like your search history to display prices based on which fare class it believes you’re most likely to prefer, and how much it calculates you’re willing to pay. The fares you see might be very different than the ones shown to other customers searching exactly the same trip at the same time.
Does that mean the airline has to know who I am?
Yes. In order to tailor the prices displayed to you, an airline has to recognize you and have some data about your travel-buying history. If you’ve ever bought anything on Amazon, you’ve seen how it works: Log on, and suggested items reflect your purchase and browsing history with the site.
How does an airline recognize me?
That depends on how you’re searching. If you log onto an airline’s site directly from one of the devices you use most frequently, that device probably already has a cookie (tracking technology) that identifies you to the airline.
Even without a cookie, your device’s unique IP address can provide a key to trace your identity. If you enter your frequent flyer number, the airline has even more information about you. According to trade reports, an airline can identify you even if you’re logged in through an online travel agency such as Expedia, although the exact mechanism isn’t completely clear.
How does an airline set dynamic prices?
At any given time, most airlines currently maintain up to 26 fare groups for their flights, ranging from bare-bones basic economy to first class. Several of the economy groups are base fares, plus extras like seat choice, a checked bag, and an in-flight meal. Airlines can change both the fares in, and number of seats allocated to, each fare group several times a day. They may also leave them at a set level for several days.
At its most basic approach, an airline sets a dynamic price by selecting which established fare group to show you, based on what its system believes you’re likely to buy.
At a more advanced approach, an airline can tweak the price for each bucket in real time, again based on assessment of your buying history, selecting what to present to you at a unique price, and in real time.
Does dynamic pricing offer any consumer benefits?
Airlines and their pricing consultants claim that dynamic pricing is used, as Travel Weekly puts it, “to offer discounts to customers with loyalty status and to generate bundled fare offerings that fit the customer’s profile.” That sounds harmless enough, but it’s not the whole story.
How do airlines benefit from dynamic pricing?
Despite outwardly focusing on supposed customer benefits, airlines know that dynamic pricing adds to their bottom line. According to the Travel Weekly report, it achieves “incremental revenues in the 7 percent to 10 percent range.” Simply put, that means travelers buying through a dynamic pricing system pay 7 to 10 percent more than travelers buying through the conventional pricing system.
Loyalty discounts, or increased revenue? You can decide the motive for yourself.
What are the “gotchas” of dynamic pricing?
Overall, dynamic pricing makes airfare less transparent. An airline does not display all of the options that fit your search. Most problematic of all, it may not show the lowest available fare at all.
A more pernicious gotcha is that an airline might present you with a fare option that’s higher than an identical bundle offered to other consumers, because the system says you might pay more than the average customer.
How can I avoid a dynamic pricing gouge?
For now, you will have to search airfares for any trip at least twice.
Start by logging onto the airline’s own website, and see what dynamic pricing has in store for you. Then do the same search through a metasearch system like TripAdvisor (SmarterTravel’s parent company) or Google Flights, without logging in to anything or identifying yourself in any way. For even more isolation, you can also search an airline’s site using one of the private search services, such as DuckDuckGo or Ixquick’s StartPage. Or if you’re a real geek, you can establish a virtual private network (VPN). These options will effectively hide your identity from any website you visit.
Then with all the results in hand, select the one that you, not the airline, think fits you best.
If you’re going somewhere notorious for rain, an umbrella won’t always cut it. Add a rain jacket to your wardrobe and save yourself some trip-ruining discomfort.
How to Remember: You might think an extra jacket will take up too much space, but there are many rain jackets that compress down to small packages like the super lightweight running jacket for men and women.
The Department of Transportation announced Thursday that it will create a task force with the mission of investigating sexual misconduct in airlines.
The National In-Flight Sexual Misconduct Task Force will operate as a subcommittee of the Aviation Consumer Protection Advisory Committee (ACPAC). According to a press release, the task force “will review current practices, protocols and requirements of U.S. airlines in responding to and reporting allegations of sexual misconduct by passengers on board aircraft.”
The task force will provide recommendations to ACPAC about how to report and collect data around sexual misconduct and how to train employees.
An FBI investigation revealed that reports of sexual misconduct mid-flight increased 66 percent from 2014 to 2017. Last year, the bureau opened 63 sexual assault investigations, according to USA Today.
Last year, CNN reported on the increase of sexual harassment cases reported by both passengers and cabin crew. About 20 percent of flight attendants have reported being harassed by passengers while on the job. A member of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA union said that her employer never provided sexual harassment training for her or her colleagues.
The first meeting of the task force is scheduled for Jan. 16, 2019. The initial meeting will discuss in further detail what duties the task force should maintain and the founding members of the task force will be announced.
If you haven’t heard about the U.K.’s heated debate on cutting ties with the European Union—dubbed a “Brexit”—you certainly will this week. Britons headed to the ballot box on Thursday and made the historic decision to leave the European Union.
The vote came less than one week after Brexit-opposing Member of Parliament Jo Cox was killed, allegedly by a suspect who said in court: “Death to traitors, freedom for Britain.” And now Prime Minister David Cameron has confirmed that he will resign as a result of the new measure. Britain has undoubtedly been thrust into a turbulent time, as the British pound’s value tumbled a whopping 11 percent in the hours that followed the vote, and the exact trade, travel, and immigration changes to come have yet to be decided.
The legislation that will now follow could change everything about traveling to and from the United Kingdom. Here’s what you need to know about the Brexit’s implications, and how it could affect you.
Budget Flights No More?
It’s hard to say right now what exactly the Brexit will change and to what degree, but it has the potential to change how we access the U.K. from Europe and beyond. This is increasingly important to Americans as budget and low-cost airlines like WOW and Norwegian Air offer U.S. flights to England through European cities like Paris and Copenhagen—airlines might now reconsider those routes. The new measure surely means reassessing trade agreements as well as immigration and travel requirements.
Catherine Barnard, a Cambridge professor of European Union law told the Guardian before the vote that if “the U.K. enters only a free trade agreement without free movement of persons or services, tourism is likely to be affected. Tourism (based on number of visits) from Europe to the U.K. is more than double that of tourism from the rest of the world.”
Increased Entry Requirements
Restricting free movement would mean imposing more fees or visa requirements for entry to better monitor immigration and travelers. I personally think this is unlikely since England already suffers from price competition with Europe—it’s much more expensive to visit the U.K. thanks to airfare taxes, strong currency, and high costs of living in cities like London. Despite this, London was named TripAdvisor’s top Traveler’s Choice destination this year, and is consistently one of the most-visited cities among world travelers—so perhaps Britain could afford to up their entry requirements.
Barnard also pointed out to the Guardian that the U.K. could alternatively opt for less extreme measures—simply “doing a Norway” by entering a free-trade agreement that overhauls their economic relationship with European countries but still allows free movement in and out of the E.U. This would likely still be bad news for Britons, since many experts have predicted that cutting those trade ties could send the U.K.’s economy into a downward spiral, and probably a recession. This seems to be true so far, with the country’s currency in free-fall.
While that might seem like a good thing for world travelers ready to see British currency weaken, the vote is already shaking up worldwide markets and signaling trouble for the economies bolstered by U.K. partnerships, especially in Europe. Great Britain is an economic super power, and it wont be clear which countries will suffer from a Brexit until the extremity regulations are decided and the dominoes fall where they may.
There’s Still Time
Developing the exit strategy will take at least two years, which is a crucial time for making decisions about the above concerns.
The only thing that’s clear right now is just how much—travel, immigration, currency value, cheap flight routes, shifting international relations—is riding on England’s coming decisions.
When it comes to warding off the dreaded airplane cold, your first line of defense is to sanitize everything, especially the tray table. Having sanitizer handy can make all the difference between enjoying your trip and spending your precious travel time recovering from a cold.
How to Remember: Small travel-friendly bottles of hand sanitizer are the best option to keep your seat station clean, but they’re also very easy to forget. Do yourself a favor and buy your hand sanitizer in bulk. On Amazon, you can snag an six-pack of travel-sized Purell bottles for under $10. Then stow one in each of your suitcases so you always have hand sanitizer ready, no matter which bag you bring with you.
Snag these limited-time early Black Friday Deals now, and you’ll be thankful next time you travel. Everything from luggage to electronics are on huge discount, but sales end soon, so don’t wait!
Packing mishaps range from inconvenient (heading to the Caribbean without a swimsuit) to disastrous (discovering you left the country without your wallet), but most are preventable. We’ve created this ultimate packing list to help you pack well every time.
The Ultimate Packing Checklist
Clothes to Pack
Toiletries to Pack
What to Pack in Your Carry-on
Ready to press that “Book Flight” button? Not so fast. There are some key rules to follow for dodging blunders when booking your long-awaited trip. Fortunately, some of the biggest problems are easy to avoid if you know what to look out for. Here are eight simple things to consider when booking a flight.
It may seem like a no brainer, but people do mistakenly fly into the wrong airport. Sometimes that's simply an inconvenient option in a multi-airport city, or, more rarely, it can be the wrong destination altogether thanks to a similar name or airport code. Don't be like Alex Karpovsky of Girls HBO fame, who has publicly admitted he once booked a ticket to Grenada, the island in the Caribbean, rather than Granada, Spain. Ouch.
Getting the city wrong is an extreme case. What’s more common is when travelers pounce on deals to a destination's cheapest available airport, not realizing how far away it might be from the city it's named for. Skyscanner has revealed the world's most misleadingly named airports, the top one being Paris-Vatry (Disney), which is 93 miles from the French capital and 70 miles from Disneyland Paris. Just behind are Munich West (70 miles to Munich) and Oslo Torp (68 miles to Oslo).
What to Do Before Booking a Flight: A quick Google Maps search will show where all your destination's biggest airports are located, so you can decide which offers the best combination of price and location.
Getting to your hotel from the airport could cost a lot of money if you don't plan ahead. Larger cities with public transit are likely to have trains or buses at the airport, but smaller destinations might only have shuttles that need to be booked ahead of time, or they could simply cost more at the last minute.
Even trickier is assuming there will be ride sharing options in your destination without first checking to make sure they're allowed at the airport. For example, until recently Boston Logan Airport didn't allow any rideshare services (Lyft or Uber) in the airport pick-up lanes—meaning you'd have to take a potentially higher priced flat-rate taxi.
What to Do Before Booking a Flight: Check the airport website for ground transit options, or do a Google Maps direction search from the airport to your hotel. Here's a list of airports that allow Uber.
Not sure you're getting a fair price? Most airfare search engines can tell you if the fare you’re considering will likely get cheaper. Use the Google Flightscalendar options to see which dates have the best prices, and subscribe to fare alerts like our sister site Airfarewatchdog that will alert you via email about new low fares as they arise. Booking the first time you search for a fare on your own typically won't get you the best price.
What to Do Before Booking a Flight: If it's more than seven weeks before your departure date and you're not finding the price you hoped for, hold off and subscribe to a fare alerts site like Airfarewatchdog.
Layovers and Timing
Being flexible on timing can mean getting great air deals and seeing an extra city on a stopover, but only if you time it right. If you're not factoring in the possibly lengthy transit time to and from the city, you'll just end up sitting at your gate for eight hours. You should also note if your flight times include a '+1' or '+2' annotation, which means the flight times provided are for the following day or even two days later.
What to Do Before Booking a Flight: Make sure your layover hours are appropriate for your schedule, and only book a stopover if it's enough time to actually leave the airport. For the latter, stick to destinations with efficient ground transit that are close to their airport, like Copenhagen or Munich International. If an overnight layover will save you a lot of money, make sure nearby hotels or nap pods at the airport aren't going to cost you more than the difference.
Not a loyal rewards member? Weigh your airline options carefully, especially if there are any you haven't flown before. Budget airlines like Spirit are almost always the cheapest option, but you'll have to forfeit one of your usually allowed carry-on bags. On the other hand, don't let safety concerns keep you from booking with a low-cost carrier if you're trying to save—most budget airlines have comparable safety records, if not better ones than the legacy airlines.
What to Do Before Booking a Flight: Look up reviews of airlines and their amenities written by real travelers on TripAdvisor—a feature the travel review site launched in late 2016.
Direct vs. Non-Stop
You've checked your timing, right? Double check it. Direct doesn't necessarily mean you're flying non-stop, and could include touching down briefly at another airport. Don't add unnecessary hours to your travel time if there's a non-stop option available.
What to Do Before Booking a Flight: If you find a non-stop option, great. If the flight is marked as “direct,” look at the actual number of hours it will take you to get to your destination and compare it to the standard flying time with a quick Google search.
It's easy to skip travel insurance—you likely do most of the time. But there are some destinations and seasons that should have you checking the “Add Booking Insurance” box before checkout. Hurricane/monsoon seasons and snowier months are the wisest ones to spend the extra $20 or so to ensure you'll be able to rebook in case your flight is canceled.
What to Do Before Booking a Flight: Consider the risks involved with your flight and whether or not you'd be willing to lose out on the reservation if an emergency arises. Things to note include monsoon and hurricane seasons, political issues like labor strikes or visa issues, and health or personal issues.
Do you know the passport requirements for the destination you're booking? Many countries require visitors to have a passport that's valid at least six months from the date of departure. That means even if you're traveling with an active passport, you could still get denied at immigration.
What to Do Before Booking a Flight: Make sure your passport will be valid or can be updated in time for your trip—especially since 2017 is kicking off longer wait times for passports. You can check passport requirements for your destination through the State Department's country-specific online resources.