Flying Smarter: Air Travel Explained

Flying Smarter: Air Travel Explained

Air travel can be confusing and frustrating. At the same time, the world of commercial flying is absolutely fascinating. In each episode, this podcast will answer your questions and explore different topics to expand your horizons and make you a smarter and savvier air traveler. Whether you are looking to make the most of your next flying experience or are a naturally curious learner who wants to know more about how air travel works, Flying Smarter is the podcast for you.


May 20, 2024 26 mins

In this episode, Andrew starts by looking at how you can get your Global Entry or NEXUS membership revoked. Then he explores Tokyo’s two international airports, looking at what you need to know about each of the facilities. 

  • A listener sent in a question asking how your Global Entry can be revoked. Learn about the different ways that this can end up happening. 
  • Japan is a hot travel destination, and Tokyo’s two airports are the g...
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In this episode, former flight attendant Ally Murphy joins Andrew to share fascinating stories and lessons from the skies. But first, Andrew talks about requalifying for elite status. 

  • How does requalifying for elite status in an airline’s loyalty program work? Different airlines have different requirements, with some making it easier for existing status holders to requalify. Learn more in this episode. 
  • Ally Murphy is a former f...
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In this episode, Andrew starts off by talking about the longest domestic flights in the world. Then for the main segment, he looks at airline loyalty program status. 

  • There are domestic flights out there that are over ten hours long. And the longest regularly scheduled flight ever was a domestic route. Learn more in this episode. 
  • What is airline status and how does it work? How have frequent flyer programs evolved? And what are ...
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This episode starts by looking at why you shouldn’t inflate your life jacket until you are about to leave the aircraft. Andrew then talks with Edmond Huot about airline design and branding.

  • Why are we told not to inflate our life jackets until we are about to exit the plane? There are some important reasons that could mean the difference between life or death. Learn more in this episode.  
  • An airline once planned to charge passen...
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March 25, 2024 27 mins

In this episode, Andrew starts by looking at whether you can get your expired points and miles back. Then he talks about aviation safety, looking at recent incidents and news as well as the bigger historical picture. 

  • If your points and miles are expired, can you get them back? Learn more about reinstating your points in this episode. 
  • There has been a lot of negative press around commercial aviation safety, and it seems like the...
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This episode features the second part of Andrew’s chat with aircraft maintenance engineer and professor Brian Bermudez. Plus, he looks at whether your points and miles will expire. 

  • Do your points and miles expire? If you’re collecting airline loyalty points, you will want to know the answer to this question. With some loyalty programs, the points never expire, but others have expiration policies and ways to prevent your points ...
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Andrew starts this episode by talking about airline flight numbers. The main segment for this episode features aircraft maintenance technician and professor Brian Bermudez. 

  • How do flight numbers get assigned? It depends, but there are some common practices and conventions. Learn more about how airlines choose their flight numbers in this episode. 
  • Aircraft Maintenance Engineer Brian Bermudez joins Andrew in this episode to dive ...
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In this episode, Andrew starts off by talking about what the different cabin class names mean. Then he looks at round-the-world tickets and how you can take a trip around the globe. 

  • Club World, Delta One, Signature Class, and Mint. These are all names of airlines’ lie-flat business class products. What’s with all the different names? What does the term first class really mean? Andrew unpacks it all at the beginning of this epis...
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This episode starts by looking at why involuntary downgrades happen and what to do if you get involuntary downgraded. Andrew then talks to airline captain Doug Morris about aviation weather and how it affects your flight.

  • Nobody likes purchasing a premium cabin ticket and then being downgraded to a worse seat. Why might this happen and what should you do if it does? Find out more in this episode.     
  • Doug Morris joins Andrew to ...
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Andrew starts this episode by talking about how much airliners weigh and important takeaways from recent aviation incidents. Then he looks at the international organizations that exist to keep the world of air travel functioning seamlessly. 

  • It’s no secret that the aircraft that we fly on are massive, but how much do they actually weigh? Andrew delves into aircraft weights to give you an idea of how heavy the objects that we fly...
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In this episode, Andrew starts by looking at how you can fly on the world’s largest airliner – the Airbus A380 – these days. The main segment features Expedia travel expert Christie Hudson who is here to share data-driven air hacks and travel trends.

  • Have you ever wanted to fly on the Airbus A380? Nicknamed the superjumbo, it’s the largest passenger aircraft ever built. Find out more about where the A380 currently flies in this ...
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This is the second part of our 2023 year-in-review. Our guests from throughout the year are sharing their travel tips and insights in a series of previously unaired clips. 

  •  What are some essential items to pack according to a flight attendant? Episode 30 guest Lara Ketterman shares her thoughts. What is the Southwest Companion Pass? Episode 36/37 guest Kendyl Grender talks about this great budget travel tool. In this episode, y...
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Flying Smarter is celebrating 50 episodes! This episode contains some special announcements as well as the first part of our 2023 year-in-review. 

  • What training do flight attendants get for dealing with panicked passengers? Former flight attendant and Episode 45 guest Carrie Bradley answers this question in this episode. Air traffic controller Andy Watson shares a story about Air Force Two. In this episode, you will find unaired...
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Andrew starts this episode by talking about why we board and deplane from the left side of the aircraft. Afterwards, the main segment of this episode features law professor Ganesh Sitaraman, who joins Andrew to talk about why flying is miserable and what we can do about it from a regulatory perspective.  

  • In the last episode, we talked a lot about boarding. One question that came up is why we always board and disembark on the le...
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In this episode, Andrew starts off by talking about whether you can sleep overnight in an airport terminal. Then he looks at the different ways we board and deplane our flights. 

  • Can you sleep overnight in an airport terminal? The answer depends on where you are and there are a lot of factors at play. Some airports have facilities to help travelers nap, while others close overnight. Learn more in this episode.  
  • Some airlines all...
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October 23, 2023 26 mins

This episode starts by looking at how to ensure that you are within your baggage allowances so that you avoid surprise fees at the airport. Andrew then talks to ramp agent Tyler Crook to get a look at what goes on outside your plane on the airport ramp.

  • Have you ever been surprised by extra bags fees at the airport? Or have you had a carry on that is allowed on one airline but doesn’t fit in the bag sizer for another airline? Le...
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October 9, 2023 21 mins

In this episode, Andrew starts off by talking about where airliners are assembled. Then he looks at schedule changes and how to deal with them. 

  • The planes that we fly are on are huge and aircraft manufacturers therefore have massive facilities to produce them. Find out where these aircraft assembly facilities are located around the world.  
  • Did you know that Lufthansa has a series of collectible rubber ducks? You don’t have to t...
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September 25, 2023 25 mins

Andrew starts this episode by talking about airline seat map websites. The main segment for this episode features family travel expert and former flight attendant Carrie Bradley. 

  • Where can you find airline seat maps? The ones provided by the airlines often don’t have much information. Learn about third-party websites that provide valuable details about the plane that you’re flying on.
  • Some airports allow visitors to access their...
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In this episode, Andrew starts off by talking about why airplane cabins are so dry and what you can do about it. Then he looks at the lasting impacts of the 9/11 attacks on air travel today. 

  • Why do aircraft cabins feel so dry? If you’ve ever felt this way, you’re not wrong. Find out why this is the case and what you can do about it in this episode. 
  • This episode has been released on September 11 and it is fitting to talk about t...
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Andrew starts by talking about why fares are so cheap in Europe when compared to North America. Then, the main segment for this episode looks at how you can avoid getting bumped from your flight. 

  • Why are fares in Europe cheaper than those in North America? It comes down to a bunch of factors, including geography and government legislation. Learn more in this episode.   
  • Flying Smarter’s 50th episode is coming up in December! We ...
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