Have you seen the recent news coverage about the hideous screening lines at the airports? Travelers are missing flights because in some cases, it's not enough to arrive two hours early anymore--even three hours hasn't been a safe bet. You are far too important to risk a missed flight and much too busy to waste your valuable time standing in line for hours, so it's time, Boss People:
Get yourself (and your family members) preapproved for air travel by going here to complete the simple online application and schedule an appointment at an Enrollment Center. The application asks basic questions, and the appointment takes less than 15 minutes. PreCheck costs $85 and is valid for five years. Once you are approved by the TSA and have your special "KTN" number on your ticket, you will still have to stand in line--but if you are flying one of the 16 participating airlines, it should be shorter and more efficient. You will no longer have to remove your shoes, your "light jacket", your belt, and your 3-1-1 liquids, or take out your laptop.
If you travel overseas, you should consider the Global Entry program, which includes the TSA PreCheck.
2. UPS My Choice
If you are a frequent online shopper, and live in an available area, you'll appreciate the free UPS My Choice program. Once you are enrolled, you can get email and/or text delivery alerts and updates that include day and approximate time, as well as the option to change your delivery method. And for those who have a vested interest in a particular delivery, UPS My Choice just added an option to track your package in real time. Click here to sign up and here to get information about package tracking.
3. Airbnb Sweet Airbnb
A client recently asked me to help her book on the Airbnb lodging rental site for the first time, and happily gave the experience a big thumbs-up. As we were both unpracticed, research was required. I found these articles very useful, and as your most sincere personal assistant, I have listed highlights from the articles -- written for the lessee and the host:
1. Finding a listing. The search function is a challenge. Using filters can help turn 40,000 listings into a few, and from there a detailed study of photos can give a level of detail that written descriptions might miss.
2. Check out the rules in the state or country you are visiting. Some states prohibit Airbnb altogether. Some places have outlawed short-term stays, including New York City and parts of Los Angeles. Other places, like San Francisco, regulate Airbnb rentals.
3. Before booking, read the reviews carefully.
Only users who have had a confirmed stay can review a site after a stay, and hosts can review guests. The host can also give other Airbnb users a heads-up about you if things go wrong.
4. Is your host an actual human? Ever search in a city where the same host keeps popping up? "Hi, I'm Svetlana!" No. No, you're not. You're a giant, faceless rental agency, pretending to be a human. These are easy to sniff out if you're paying attention.
5. For extra security, look for a triangular "A" watermark in the top right hand of the photos.
This means that the hosts had professional Airbnb photographers come out and snap photos, meaning that what you see is going to be close to what you get.
6. Contact the host directly before requesting to book. You can message them through Airbnb's messaging service just to say hello and explain your plans or to ask a question if anything is unclear or unstated, like about wheelchair access or the noise level.
7. But don't ask to see the place first. Airbnb discourages it to best ensure safety and privacy.
8. Otherwise, never be afraid to ask questions. But read the listing before you ask to ensure that you aren't asking a question that is already answered. (Yes, the host provides towels. Airbnb basically enforces that one.) If the listing doesn't go into enough detail, you can move on to the next one.
9. Host ID? Airbnb also has a program that allows hosts to upload their state or country identification, so you can check them out beforehand--you're better off ending with someone who has provided an ID. Airbnb unfortunately does not run background checks.
10. Pay attention to the extra fees. Airbnb imposes a service fee between 6 and 12 percent of the total nightly rate--this amount varies depending on the length of stay and the number of guests reserved. Not all hosts charge a cleaning fee, but each host is entitled to charge a one-time, non-refundable flat fee to lessees. The amount of the fee can vary but the fee can never increase or decrease after booking.
11. Read the host's cancellation policy. Airbnb hosts can use one of five different cancellation policies. "Flexible" means that if you cancel more than 24 hours in advance, you won't be charged for the room rate night -- only the service fees. "Super Strict" means that even if you cancel more than 30 days in advance, you will only get a 50 percent refund, and if you cancel within 30 days, no refund at all.
12. Most hosts request a security deposit. But your money will not be touched unless the host files a claim and even at that point, you, the host, and Airbnb have to agree to the charges before you pay a dime. If the host wants to claim a portion of the deposit, they must make the request within 48 hours of your departure.
13. Don't be afraid of rejection when you make your reservation request. If you are ever rejected, it'll usually be because your profile doesn't tell the host much about who you are.
14. Once approved, you submit payment through the Airbnb site. Airbnb doesn't release your money to the host until 24 hours after you check in, which gives time for both parties to agree everything is in order.
15. If there's a problem once you arrive.
Contact Airbnb within the first 24 hours and they will put a hold on the payment. Click here for some of Airbnb's reasons that might entitle a guest refund.
16. Remember this isn't a hotel: a. Once you have booked, check your email regularly. The host could have an emergency and need to cancel. b. Stick to the arrival and departure times. The place might need to be cleaned for the next visitor. c. Don't sneak in an extra guest. e. Pay close attention to what is included and even more attention to what's not. f. Hotels have maids. Airbnb has hosts. As Airbnb put in an email: "Consider stripping the beds or taking out the trash to go the extra mile."
1. Need for Speed
When you are wondering how fast your internet connection is at any moment, you can quickly find out by visiting Fast.com, a free site launched by Netflix. If you'd like an interpretation, Best Buy has a helpful list here.
2. iPhone Users: Protect Thy Notes
The last iOS 9.3 update gave iPhone users the option to secure a note in the Notes app. Click here to get directions.
3. Got Food Allergies?
Download the free DineSafe app and get help finding menus from nearby restaurants that will compare your allergy to the allergens contained in their food.
4. Pinning is so Yesterday
Pinterest changed their verb "pin" to "save" when they went global. "'Save' makes more sense worldwide," says Pinterest.
5. Express Yourself
This year June 21st is not only the first day of summer, but the day 72 new emojis will be released, allowing you to emote your shrug, selfie, face palm, share your love for breakfast items and Chinese take-out, clink glasses, sneeze, and so much more.
6. Gift Alert
Meet my favorite car mount holder, the iOttie. It mounts on the dashboard with a super strong suction cup and holds the phone nice and tight. It fits most phones and can be found at Amazon in two versions for $19.95 and $24.95.