Summer air travel thoughts & tips
Memorial Day weekend is the traditional start of the summer vacation season and here are some thoughts and tips to help ease the stress and hassle of today’s travelers.
If your plans include air travel:
Reserve and pay for your ticket ASAP. The keys to securing the best deals are advance planning flexibility in travel dates and/or consider flying into an alternate airport and renting a car. If you wait until the last minute expect to pay a premium or wait for the airline weekend web specials. Traveling internationally make sure you have a valid passport on your person. Don’t pack it in checked bags. Make sure that you have all of the correct travel documentation required at your destination(s).
ARRIVE EARLY! I’ll say that again ARRIVE EARLY! By doing this you may be able to avoid crowded airport parking lots, standing in long lines at the ticket counter and security checkpoint. These factors should all be considered when deciding what time to arrive at the airport. Give yourself plenty of extra time. Waiting at the airport with boarding passes in hand and reading a good book sure beats sitting in traffic wondering if you’re going to make your flight.
Need some incentive to arrive early? Keep in mind that those who arrive earliest for an overbooked flight stand the greatest chance of staying onboard. The airline load factors are extremely high which means that they’re flying full planes this summer and bumping (denied boarding) may occur.
Keep a close eye on all your belongings. Pay attention and stay alert. Don’t put your brain on auto pilot just yet. Airports are packed with travelers and offer fertile feeding grounds for thieves. Be aware of your surroundings and maintain a close watch over tickets, wallets, purses, and other belongings at all times. NOTE: This vigilance applies everywhere as train stations, hotel lobbies, flea markets just about any venue can be targeted by the criminal element.
To avoid getting bumped: 1) Get an advance seat assignment. Passengers with seat assignments are typically only bumped if they arrive late and their seat assignment is released. 2) Check-in online. Most airlines allow you to do so within 24 hours of departure. Seat assignments that were not available at the time of ticketing may be available when checking in online. 3) Don't be late. If all else fails, get to the airport early. Some airlines reserve a portion of their seat assignment inventory for airport check-in. If you are denied a seat assignment at check-in, put your name on the "standby" seat assignment list.
Remember 3-1-1. New regulations limit the amount of gels and liquids passengers can take through security in their carry-on luggage to travel-size toiletries of three (3) ounces or less that fit comfortably in one (1) quart-size, clear plastic zip-top bag and the one (1) bag per passenger must be placed in the screening bin.
Know your limits. Pack light and know baggage limits. Some airlines now charge for a second piece of checked luggage. Lay everything out on your bed you are thinking about taking then only pack half of it. There’s probably a Wal-Mart near your destination so you can buy it there instead of paying additional fees for that extra bag. Consider shipping items like your golf clubs via UPS or other ground transportation service. This may be a less expensive option than paying the extra airline fees.