Summer Travel

Summer Travel 2014: Travel Quirks to Be Proud Of


Sitting in the Back of the Airplane
I like to sit in row 26. It’s easy to reserve, because most people in coach want to sit up front (or, if work’s paying, in business class) so they can disembark faster. But when it’s time to board, I just want to get on. Milling around at the gate is a torture matched only by other passengers’ strange seating rituals, as crews force guests assigned to nearby rows to jostle for the same overhead space. The airlines must know they’re doing it wrong; a 2013 Boeing (BA) study found that boarding has slowed 50 percent since 1970. A Dutch carrier recently tried “smart boarding,” wherein seat numbers flash one by one. It was quicker. Until it’s adopted here, you know where to find me. I board first. The rows are less full, and the lavatory is nearby. And what’s the difference if I get off the plane five minutes later? That taxi line still awaits. —Margaret Lyons

Eating Out Alone
Room service never leaves you thinking, “Wow, excellent fettuccine Alfredo.” The overpriced food just exists for those who can’t bear dining solo. If you’re jet-lagged or have an early meeting, that’s one thing. Otherwise, get over it. Look up a city guide, and choose something interesting and well-reviewed. You’re unlikely to wait for a table—bar seats exist for this exact reason, and the staff may offer special treatment as they assume (correctly) you’re there for the food. Bring a book if you’d like, or ask the waiter to use the restaurant’s Wi-Fi to keep yourself amused. Then order a glass of wine, eavesdrop on nearby conversations, and enjoy some delicious alone time. —Kurt Soller

Checking Your Bag
There was a time when travel by air or train was pleasant. Here’s a controversial way to reclaim that era: Check your luggage. Sure, there are annoying new fees, but your loyalty credit card might cover them. The suitcase won’t get lost—mishandled baggage rates are at all-time lows, down about 50 percent from 2007, per U.S. Department of Transportation stats. And, I swear, you won’t be slowed down at the baggage claim. With fewer people stowing bags, they’re coming off faster. So go ahead, pack the big tube of hair gunk. Use the airport bathroom without dragging your carry-on with you. Once onboard, unfurl your newspaper, sip an imaginary highball, and cheerfully ignore the battle for overhead space raging all around you. Well done. —Jesse Oxfeld


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