Techie Tools Make Travel Faster
Wednesday - August 11, 2010
Today, a little something for those who, like me, fly occasionally but not often enough to know all the ins and outs of the system. If you’re an experienced and very frequent flier, you already know this stuff, but those who take an occasional hop to the Mainland may not.
My first piece of advice: Use the technology you have available to you. Don’t be afraid. Go for it.
It was shocking to see how many people are still enduring long, snaky lines at check-in counters. This is something you can do in the comfort of your home if you have a computer and a printer. (Mom and Dad, I’m talking to you!) If you don’t have a printer at home or just prefer to get your boarding pass at the airport, at least try out those computer kiosks that allow you to do it yourself quickly and easily. They shave time and are a lot less hassle. If you’re a little intimidated, there’s usually an attendant on hand to help the uninitiated.
Nowadays some airlines even go a step further, allowing you to not only check in online but to e-mail your boarding pass to your mobile phone. I was ecstatic about this. When you’re on the road it eliminates the extra step of having to print your passes at the hotel’s business center or front desk.
Mobile phone check-in promised to be easy, and for the most part it was. You simply present the phone at the security and boarding checkpoints and let them scan the symbol. Love the convenience of it, but it comes with a big caution: Remember that, when traveling, you have to be sharp, prepared and armed with knowledge. Also, things often don’t work as planned.
When I got to the security line at LAX the checker at first refused to let me through. “You need a boarding pass,” she said. Nope, I told her, waving my phone. Right here. Look.
Nuh-uh, she said. You need to go all the way back there (pointing to opposite side of terminal) and print your ticket.
Me: But, but ... the website told me I wouldn’t have to.
She: Yup. You have to. Now go. Just as she was saying that (and as I was about to give up and turn around) another attendant walked by and asked, “What’s up?”
“My ticket’s in my phone!” I said, “And she won’t let me in!”
“Let her in. They’ll scan it off her phone,” the woman told the checker, who started to argue.
“Let her in,” the woman repeated, pointing at the little scanning machine. It was pretty obvious which employee was awake at that staff meeting and which one decided to mentally check out. Once she got straightened out, I got through with no problems.
Of course, the highlights of any successful trip have nothing to do with computers or phones or other modern gadgets. One of our best nights was spent watching the Los Angles Philharmonic in the very low-tech Hollywood Bowl. It’s an old outdoor amphitheater with nothing fancy about it. The seats are plastic chairs or wooden benches. There are fold-up tables in the box cubicles. People bring coolers, picnic baskets and rolling carts filled with goodies. They pull out a tablecloth, uncork a bottle of wine and pass around bread and cheese while awaiting the start of an aural feast of Beethoven.
There really is nothing like music alfresco.
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