Things You Should Know


Away-luggage-with-device-charging (1)
The times they are a changin” is an apt phrase in terms of travel in 2018.  So as not to get caught unprepared, following is a synopsis of what to expect from an excellent column by the Wall Street Journal’s travel specialist, Scott McCartney.
1. The bad news first is “more seats, less room.”  On a recent Southwest flight, I tweeted the photo below to @flyswa to let them know I appreciated their moving the pocket holding magazines to the top of the seat-back in front of me, thus providing more legroom. After visiting the lavatory, however, it was clear where they must have taken the space from — anyone with claustrophobia will have a tough time in that tiny room!
While Southwest didn’t add any seats, more of United’s 777 planes will have 10 seats across instead of nine, continuing the trend in slimming down the seats themselves.  AA and many foreign carriers already made that change, while Delta has not.  The slim-seat retrofit is fondly called “densification.”
2. Changes to how and what ID’s are accepted and verified is a big one.  Get a Passport and keep it handy, even for domestic travel, seems to be the key.  States were required in 2005 to update their procedures but barely 50% have complied.  While it’s unlikely TSA will have the guts to stop accepting state issued ID’s (drivers licenses), you might as well be prepared.   They are also testing a program in certain airports eliminating boarding passes to go through security as ID’s are more reliable via machines called Credential Authentication Technology (below).
Photo cred:  Stephen Voss, WSJ
While those results are still being evaluated, we do know there are stricter carry-on rules being implemented.  Unless you have TSA Pre-check, security wants carry-on bags “decluttered” as much as possible so X-ray machines have a better view of what’s in your bag.  Any and all electronics larger than a cellphone must be placed in a separate bin.


I say we put Amazon in charge of the lines!
3. Anyone I’ve ever spoken to has only rave reviews for the Premium Economy experience, especially when comparing the cost vs. Business or First.  “Think of PE as what Business Class used to be prior to fully lie-flat beds” per the column.  American Air is actually leading the competition for US carriers on international flights, with Delta second and United lagging behind.  Catching up to international rivals is a long-time coming, especially the Gulf carriers (Emirates, Etihad and Qatar) with their insane amenities.
AA’s Premium Economy Seat


4. Lastly, if you’re thinking about investing in a “Smart Bag” complete with GPS tracking and power ports to charge devices — don’t.  It’s all about those pesky lithium batteries and the ongoing debate about their safety.  Most domestic carriers won’t allow the bags to be checked unless the batteries are removed and carry-on is the same.  There seem to be more outlets everywhere — airline terminals and plane seats — so why fight it?  Ditch the lithium and the stress.  Travel can be stressful enough!
Great concept, particularly for “road warriors” —

but will the TSA allow is the big question.