1 hour flying, but 10 hours of waiting – passing time in Boise

I did not got to to the airport expecting to spend more than 10 hours there, but the unpredictability of travel happened to me in the Boise airport. This was a quick one day trip, with meetings all day then a flight out the next morning. When I arrived at 10 am for my 12:15 p.m. flight, I went to the gate to settle in and read until takeoff. We boarded at 11:45 a.m. and once the boarding door closed we were off, or so we thought. The plane had mechanical issues that required a change of equipment. One hour later we boarded a new plane which subsequently had mechanical issues as well, which left the 40+ passengers waiting for the next available flight. Considering the priorities of passengers with connecting flights and those that paid higher fare classes, I was told to relax and wait for an additional 7 hours. I did watch other passengers decide to take the obnoxious route and give the gate agents a hard time, but when it all said and done, yelling at airline staff for ensuring the safety of us travelers, is a bit short-sighted.

For the next seven hours I had an opportunity to think about all the items I should have routinely had with me that would have made the wait a bit easier. First off, a spare battery for charging. Although I was in an airport, there were more passengers needing a charge than available outlets so it was a bit inconvenient once my battery got low. Then I wished for the many books I have promised myself I would finish this year. One should have been in my bag first, but it was an oversight. As a seasoned traveler, it made me think about people that have not prepared for a flight delay or cancellation. The next item was a reusable beverage container. Many airports offer filtered water refill stations near the gate area lavatories, and having one can save money and avoid having to purchase a $5 bottle of water.

Travel has to be approached with a sense of adventure, and patience. When you arrive at the airport you have to surrender your need to be in control of everything. You are not flying the plane, you don’t have a say in who sits near you, and just because you are ready to go, doesn’t mean your carrier is, so waiting has to be an expected activity. So as you prepare for your next trip, think about all that you might need, just in case you have to be in transit far longer than you expected.

Preparing for your journey

We have worked together to plan your next adventure, and now you have to prepare for taking your trip. Below I have compiled some ideas to help you think through what you will need to make your trip a success.

Document, Document, Document(s)!

The world has evolved into a mostly electronic marketplace. The technology that can fit in the palm of our hands can also act an organizer and storage for important documents. When traveling however, having a paper back-up can help you avoid unnecessary delays and headaches on your trip. Let’s talk about how to make the best use of both.

  • Print out copies of both your hotel confirmations or paid vouchers as well as your flight itinerary.
  • Print out copies of your travel insurance documents
  • If traveling outside the US, bring a power converter, so you can utilize your electronics abroad.
  • Prior to your trip, contact your mobile phone provider to ensure will have coverage your entire trip.
  • Download a translation app so that you can navigate the city if you have not mastered the language prevalent in your destination.
  • Put your room number & hotel address in your phone after you check-in.

Money makes the world go-round

  • Alert your bank and credit card company of your travel plans so they will not refuse charges while you are on the road.
  • Make photo copies of all your ID’s (passport, driver’s license, credit cards) and keep one copy at home and another in an area separate from your wallet.
  • Consider pick-pocket proof clothing and RFID-protected money belts. Sadly, tourist are seen as targets by some, and we do not want your journey ruined by a thief.  However you decide, have a secure way to carry your passport and wallet.
  • Find a place to exchange money before you go abroad. If you have AAA, they can provide currency exchanges. It is usually cheaper to purchase money than to sell it. Just know you may lose some in the exchange, the trick is to find the lowest cost vendor. Your bank or credit union could also be an option. You should carry both the currency of the country you are visiting as well as US Dollars. In all cases, avoid large bills.

Pack Light, and Smart

  • For longer flights, it is essential to have certain items immediately available to you, and not in your checked bag.
  • Use a suitcase specifically designed for fitting under an airplane seat: 16 inches x 12 inches x 6 inches. One for the overhead bin can be as large as 9 inches x 14 inches x 22 inches.
  • Put electronics, medications, toothbrush, and an extra outfit in your carry-on; If your checked bag is delayed, you will be so happy you did this.
  • Limit yourself to two (2) pairs of shoes. Get travel clothing for the plane that is moisture wicking and breathable knowing you may wear them multiple times. Avoid traveling in cotton if possible.
  • Consider compression socks; they  are useful on flights as they promote blood flow by helping your veins and muscles circulate blood more effectively.
  • A knit hat and scarf (your mode of transportation could get chilly)
  • Create a travel survival kit: Melatonin, Tylenol, Benadryl,  Pepto-Bismol, Neosporin, an eye mask, ear plugs, inflatable neck pillow (saves space when not in use), a thin travel blanket (the ones on the plane are not always cleaned between uses), hand-sanitizer, anti-bacterial cleansing wipes (to wipe down your seat, tray table, etc.), reusable beverage container (so you can avoid purchasing water).

Do you have other suggestions that have been proven essentials for the road? Let us know and we will add onto this list.

I am covered…..are you sure?

People think travel insurance is a waste of money, up until the very moment you wish you had coverage. Travel is an activity that can be an expensive endeavor, regardless of the mode, destination or time of year. What we encourage our clients to do is ensure they have adequate coverage prior to leaving on their journey. The category of coverages includes: delayed/lost/stolen baggage, trip cancellation/delay/interruption, medical incident, and rental vehicle to name a few.
Travel insurance can be purchased in several ways. First, start with your homeowners/renters/auto policy. For an extra few dollars per month, these policies could provide coverage for any vehicle rented. Another source of coverage are credit cards. Some cards offer secondary coverage that will pay for charges not covered by your primary insurance, which for most is the deductible. There are some cards that will offer primary coverage for rental vehicles, but this is quite rare in the industry. The counter agents are encouraged to upsell insurance and are pros at scaring the life out of you when you decline. Those fears can be dismissed knowing you will be covered in case of an unfortunate incident.
What about when you are traveling abroad and have a medical incident. Travel insurance can provide the assistance you need to identify a medical provider or make arrangements for repatriation, in cases where an injury or illness is severe. Having the ability to call a knowledgeable professional in a time of need is invaluable. Life happens, even when on vacation, so being prepared for the worst by having coverage will benefit you in the long run.
Trip interruption helps to pay any related expenses if you need to cut a trip short and return home early. Trip delay can be the difference between sleeping in a hotel airport and sleeping on an airport bench.
RLMorgen is a licensed agent that can provide the coverages that meet your needs. As you plan your journey, discuss with us how to protect your travel investment with a policy to help when you need it.

Carry on bags

Airlines have several tiers of ticketing and you may have notices pricing for “basic economy”. This is a base fare for a traveler that is only concerned with getting from point A to point B without any extras. One of these extras is the use of the overhead storage bin. Basic Economy passengers are not allowed to use the overhead bin unless a payment has been made PRIOR to boarding. Bag fees are typically $30, but if you fail to pay prior to boarding, the airline may charge a gate check fee (typically also $30) in addition to the bag fee. This could result in a $60 charge for the convenience of having your bag in cabin.
If your travel plans include a flight, find the appropriate sized bags that are acceptable to airlines. A safe bet is to purchase bags that are approved for the strictest airline, to ensure your bag will be accepted on all airlines. Airlines typically do not publish their under-seat dimensions; however, the consensus is a safe size is 16 inches x 12 inches x 6 inches.
Some airlines have recently modified their allowable overhead compartment sizes. For most carriers, the maximum dimensions for a carry-on bag are 9 inches x 14 inches x 22 inches, including handles and wheels. Some may allow for larger, however, your safest bet is to purchase a bag at the smallest allowed size, so you can conveniently travel on any airline.
If you are considering ignoring these recommendations, read this prior to doing so. Airline staff are the gatekeepers of who can board a flight, and some can hold the line quite firmly. I witnessed a gate agent using a tape measure as passengers boarded and turned away several passengers carry-on bags requiring a gate check. The aggravation can be avoided with advanced planning, so keep this in mind as you prepare for your next journey.

Let me upgrade you

The flight attendant stated, “we are serving lunch today and would you like the chicken enchilada or the pasta meal with salad?”  The choices were simple, the mere fact I now had choices made me think, “I love my life right now”.  This three-hour flight started as a middle seat in coach and through a series of circumstances, evolved into a first class window seat with all the comforts and perquisites included.

In the grand scheme, passengers get first class upgrades all the time. Frequent travelers are rewarded by airlines for purchasing seats at a premium and remaining brand loyal.  People with expense accounts or disposable incomes can swipe a card and bypass the masses in the rear of the jet. Nevertheless, for most people, the average Joe or Jane, partially or fully employed, with minimal means, any flight is a luxury item and an escape from whatever their daily lives entail. A great example of this person shared the check-in kiosk with me today. She clearly had no understanding of travel, and how to act or react to the process of arrival at the desk and moving toward a flight.  She just needed to fly to a destination, and I surmised, today’s flight may be an event that happens to her once in a decade.  She was intimidated by the screen, the prompts, the words in front of her, and the agent that provided little of any direction to her.  Once she received her bag tags, we lost contact but in my mind, understood that kiosk was just the first of many hurdles for her before she arrived at her destination

For me, I consider myself a seasoned traveler, having had jobs that paid for frequent travel and allowing for the great upgrades, free tickets, and extra assistance that comes with being seen as a preferred member. These jobs allowed me to be in the clique with the flight attendants, pilots, and other business travelers fluent in the secret language needed to lower the stress that comes with flying. However, those luxuries are now in my past, as I work in a mid-level job that has zero travel opportunity and a nominal income that brings angst whenever I need to book a flight.


Instead of longing for what once was though, I can now take comfort in the knowledge gained during those high-flying times and apply them to situations that I find myself in today. On my present income, it would be foolhardy to pay for a first-class seat, so now I monitor sales, search endlessly on multiple websites, and then purchase the fare that will not completely derail my monthly budget.  I refuse to devolve into renditions of “if I only had a better job” or I wish I stayed so I wouldn’t have to pay for this, or whatever the negative thought might decide to come and visit that day.  What I do is deal with where I am, and understand this is a good place, then apply what I know to make the most out of the experience.

This leads to how I found myself in 3A instead of 6B.  Using the knowledge from days of yore, I arrived at the airport in the mindset of avoiding all the minefields, and additional fees, that encounter travelers. Because of the number of events I am attending, I had to bring three bags, which would result in paying at a minimum $60 to check in two, and carry on the third.  This was not at all an ideal scenario, so I utilized the right luggage only needing to check one, as defined by airline policy.  Twenty-five dollars gone is never a good thing, but compared to $60, I will take that anytime. Before leaving though, I engaged the agent in conversation and tried to find a way out of my middle seat.  The response was affirmative, but not without an additional $41 to secure the exit row or $35 for an aisle.  When doing the math, the perceived comfort of purchasing either option ranged from paying $11.67 to $13.67 per hour. This, for maybe an extra two inches of space, was not a wise fiscal move so I declined.  How many times have you been faced with a financial scenario similar to this? For some, $35/$41 is not too much to pay for comfort, but what can that buy in the long run? Moreover, is that truly an investment that provides a return on investment? For me, the answer is no, so I kept my seat in 6B then proceeded to the security gate.

Here, I am welcomed to the joy of TSA, the dreaded Transportation Security Agency checkpoints, where passengers are subjected to every question and procedure just short of “drop your pants and spread ‘em”.  I have been to this particular terminal long enough to know that utilizing the TSA area furthest from my gate would cut my wait in half.  For me, my time is a valuable resource and the stress of standing in a line for 30 to 45 minutes was worth the extra walk.  The walk also provided the extra movement passengers should have prior to boarding an airplane, a pressurized cabin where blood pools in the legs and air is recirculated and not always filtered to what some scientist consider healthy levels.

The extra time not standing in lines provided 40 minutes of “dead time” where I could walk the airport or sit in the departure gate and people watch. Instead, I proceeded to the airline club room to wait in a different level of comfort.  These airline club rooms are amazing locations where travelers can watch television, read current periodicals, enjoy Wi-Fi, and obtain snacks and drinks such as coffee, juices, and alcoholic beverages at no additional cost.  Although I travel less frequently, I decided years ago this was a benefit I always wanted, regardless of how infrequently I fly, so I maintain a credit card where the yearly membership fee includes visits to the club rooms at no cost.  When I look at how utilizing this room saves money on snacks, drinks and the access to a place to relax and charge my devices while using Wi-Fi, this is money well spent. The other advantage to these rooms is the access to airline agents that can at times make your flight much more enjoyable, by, for example, finding alternate seats.  On this particular visit, I inquired about a seat change but this agent was not able to get me out of this middle seat.

Boarding time was approaching so I left the comfort of the club room to find my gate. The travel industry has changed over the years and with consolidation, staff is becoming much leaner. This has led to many employees wearing dual hats at some locations and on this day, the previously unhelpful agent I noticed on arrival had transitioned to working this gate.  Immediately, I engaged her with one real intention, getting out of this middle seat. With the most charming smile I could muster, I started asking questions and seeing what options I had for moving. With the consolidation, I mentioned earlier, this also means most flights are leaving full and many times oversold. There were no options for moving, but not taking no for an answer, I created some scenarios for her and asked how I could assist her. You see, the friendly, helpful passenger is the unicorn that shows up to flights. Airline employees are increasingly dealing with frustrated and angry passengers that have no mercy on them and kick and scream at will whenever something is not the way they want it. These complaints are not always without merit when you consider it wasn’t long ago there were no baggage fees, fees for aisle seats, movies and/or radio stations on flights, and meals, or at least bags of snacks were provided to all passengers when the beverage cart came through. There was a joy and pleasantry in travel that has been removed and now an adversarial relationship between passenger and airline is common. Sadly, the average traveler does not take time to realize the person they frequently encounter at the terminal had no say in changing the way we fly, nor can change any policy people perceive as inconvenient, unfair, or just plain dumb. These are also employees that are not highly compensated and frankly, just trying to earn a living and make it through their shift. When unicorn does appear to this team member, their responses can have a wonderful effect on the traveler.  For me, this turned into my gate agent becoming insightful and creative.  She had no reason AT ALL to find me a better seat, but when she said, “just wait near me a few minutes” my hope meter sprang up quickly.  There were also a few key phrases I have used through the years (that I am absolutely not sharing with you, thank you!) that I have been time tested to improve my chances.  Ultimately, the combination of patience, cordiality, and persistence, led to a last minute, last seat available on the flight, change to first class, seat 3A.

Loving my life right now allowed for the extra space and legroom to work with my computer and create this document. It led to a hot meal, with real silverware, unlimited drinks, and even a slice of Key Lime pie. Loving my life meant that I needed to not be upset that I don’t have the means to purchase my way to all the comforts I enjoy, it means I should take extra time to see how I can do just a little extra to improve my situation, using the tools at my disposal to make life better.

Sure, this trip includes another flight, 4.5 hours in length, and it will most certainly be in the seat assigned. However, regardless of outcome, I can enjoy the rest of my journey because I started on the right foot, with a positive outlook, a pleasant disposition, and was rewarded by the universe for taking an approach that included spreading smiles to strangers, and enjoying where my life is, right now.