How to be a 5-star traveler this holiday season

If you skipped vacation travel last year (or didn’t travel at all during the pandemic), your travel skills could be rusting. In addition, some travel labels have changed.

Recent history indicates that this holiday travel season will be tough, as evidenced by the chaos seen over this year’s summer vacations and weekends. More than 2,800 Spirit Airlines flights were canceled during a busy travel weekend this summer. On separate October weekends, American Airlines canceled hundreds of flights and Southwest canceled more than 1,800. All of these events were attributed in part to staff shortages.

While you may feel naturally surly when faced with a situation that causes you to miss a trip or forces you to pay for a last-minute hotel, bitter attitudes likely won’t solve things.

Being courteous can get you the preferred room, the last available seat, or a free upgrade. Plus, being proactive could make travel more efficient not just for you, but for everyone. Here are five tips to help you be a five-star traveler this holiday season.


Make the work of others more efficient

You’ve heard the endless announcements at the boarding gate, imploring people to check their wheeled bags on full flights.

The sooner you check in your bag, the sooner it is loaded. If the last person to board is the one whose bag is ripped from their hands and sent to cargo, take-off is more likely to be delayed than if all bags had been loaded earlier. Fortunately, many airline credit cards offer free checked baggage, and this is also a perk often offered to elite airline members. So you might want to think about checking in your bag at the counter before you even go through security. Or, if you know you’ll be the last to board anyway, check it early.

When it comes to cleaning, many hotel companies only provide cleaning on request. Ask yourself if you really need it or if you can make your own bed.

The entertainment and hospitality industry lost 8.2 million jobs in March and April 2020 – an employment decline of 49%, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. While travel-related jobs are making a comeback (the airline industry added 9,200 jobs in October and the accommodation industry added 23,200 jobs), know that employees may be new and businesses may still be. lack of staff. If you use services like housekeeping, tip generously.

Using technology to speed things up

In some cases, technology can solve problems that you would otherwise need an employee for.

Use mobile check-in to view your boarding pass on your phone, no printing required. You can also speed up your security wait time with apps like Clear, which use biometrics and let you come to the fore. Some hotels may send virtual keys via mobile check-in, so you can skip reception altogether. Pre-order your meals online so cashiers don’t have to take your order.

Comply with COVID security policies

A June letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland of 10 leading pilots and flight attendants unions cited a “substantial increase and escalation in unruly and disruptive behavior by passengers on planes, especially towards members crew “.

About 73% of unruly passenger reports in 2021 were related to the mask, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

“The duty to enforce this rule rests with our pilots and flight attendants at 30,000 feet, and passengers who refuse to comply make our difficult tasks more difficult than they should be,” said Captain Eric Ferguson, president of the Allied Pilots Association, a union representing American Airlines pilots, in a statement released in August.

Even if you don’t agree with the policies, respect the employees who must follow them. And understand that COVID-19 safety rules vary by location. One city can be more difficult than another, so don’t be surprised if your lunch break on the road is maskless, but you must wear masks during dinner.

Pay attention to others

Given the rate of unruly passenger reports, it may not be a coincidence that some airlines have suspended in-flight alcoholic beverage service. Even if you have a drink in the terminal before take off, drink and act appropriately.

Wherever you go, respect the personal space of others – especially during a pandemic – and remember that a little kindness does a lot in the service industry.

Go ahead and complain (to the right person)

It’s okay to complain when things are really bad. Most travel agencies offer online customer service forms, and many use social media to handle complaints. Keep in mind that the customer service employee may not have the authority to resolve the situation immediately.

The bottom line

Sure, there are some cranky or rights-minded people who act like one star travelers at airports and hotels, but it doesn’t help anyone to be that person. To have a five-star travel experience, first be a five-star traveler yourself.

Sally French is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: [email protected]

Comments are closed.