Travel Tips on Air Travel
- Don’t only go to an airline directly, as it will limit what you see to just that airline. Always be flexible with your search, as it has been proven that people who can leave a day earlier or later wind up saving big bucks in the end. Searching across multiple airlines provides you the best opportunity to get the best fare available.
- Sign up for email fare alerts, and follow travel providers via social media - Twitter and Facebook. For emails, you can provide the market you are interested in flying to, and emails and updates can be sent to you on a regular basis to inform you when fares are increasing or decreasing. As for social media – often times you will find last minute “fire sales” that can be up to %50 off.
- Know when the best time of day to book travel deals. The day and even the time you book could save you big cash. Always check airline tickets on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday overnight. Airlines will update their fares through what is called a Global Distribution System (GDS) during this time and that could make a big difference on your wallet in the end.
- Get organized and make
airport inspections painless – transparent and mesh organizers in the Packing
Aids section from
Magellan’s keep luggage contents visible to help speed you through airport
- If seat selection
is a high priority, go first to websites that show seat
availability before purchase. Northwest Airlines'
Travelocity.com are two that do.
- To improve your
chance of getting the seat selection you want, reserve your
seat at time of booking.
- If you are unhappy
with your seat, call the carrier or visit a booking office
in advance of your travel date to improve your seat assignment.
- Reconfirm your
travel plans a day before the flight. Airlines sometimes
switch aircraft, and you'll need to re-reserve your seat.
Airlines try to reflect your initial seat choice when reassigning
on the new plane, but they don't always succeed. Occasionally,
seat assignments made months in advance disappear for no
obvious reason. Airlines don't guarantee seat reservations.
- If a better
seat is important, buy an upgrade if available. United,
for instance, sells ticket holders upgrades to its roomier
Economy Plus during check-in. They start at $30. The longer
the flight, the more costly the upgrade. AirTran sells upgrades
to its business class starting at $35.
- Trying to figure
out the best seat on a flight? Advertising-supported
SeatGuru.com offers extensive diagrams and details about
airliner cabins. The site illustrates about 200 cabins of
jets used by 25 airlines, including American, Qantas, JetBlue
and Virgin Atlantic. Two airlines might fly the same type
of plane but configure seats differently.
how far it is from a major airport to a neighboring city
center and what your cab fare will run?
Click here to find out for ten of the most popular destinations in
- Take your child
out of their stroller or carrier before going through airport
screening. You can carry an infant through the metal detector,
but if the child can walk, they should go through the detector
screeners may ask that head covering be removed during the
process. If doing this in public goes against your religious
beliefs, you may ask to be screened in a private area.
with an ASA/ISO lower than 800 can go through the airport’s
x-ray machine without being damaged. However, multiple inspections
(more than five times) may cause damage. You can pack it
in your checked luggage, or request a hand inspection instead.
kids understand the screening process ahead of time. Talk
to them about what they’ll need to do: take off their coat,
place it and their bags on the x-ray machine, walk through
the metal detector, and gather their items and wait for
you. Make them aware that shoes may be checked, and that,
if the metal detector alarm goes off, the security guard
may need to check them more thoroughly.
to a London researcher, people who have had orthopedic surgery
within the past three months should not take trips where
they must sit for more than three hours. Dr. Ander Cohen
of King’s College Hospital in London found that the risk
of developing leg clots (that could possibly lead to a pulmonary
embolism) increases three-fold for this group. To read about
preventing leg clots while traveling,
the airline before your trip and ask how and when checked
baggage will be inspected. Can you check baggage curbside?
Or must you go to the ticket counter?
Click here for an article on the new
airport screening measures.
- WTA members
can book travel through our online booking program.
Click here to check rates and make reservations.
WTA articles and pamphlets about airline safety are available
Travel Safetysection of our site. The information is free, so please
here to read a thorough article on steps
to take to prevent blood clotting while flying.
- For lengthy
flights, grab a couple of pillows as soon as you board.
They’ll be snatched up quickly once passengers settle in.
- If you
leave your seat during a flight, don’t leave important or
valuable items in the seatback pocket.
along some moisturizer on long flights. Use it every couple
of hours to combat the dry, recirculated air in plane cabins.
booking travel on a large U.S. airline, the reservations
agent should be able to give you the flight’s “on-time performance
code”. This one-digit code shows how often that flight arrived
on time (defined as within 15 minutes of the scheduled arrival
time) during the most recent reported month. For instance,
a “7” means the flight arrived on-time between 70%-79.9%
of the time.
- The FAA
issued information regarding post-9/11 security measures
as they relate to air travelers with disabilities.
Click here to read the
making airline reservations, let the airline know if you
have an animal to transport and then review the rules regarding
kennel size, ventilation, markings and contents. Reconfirm
your pet’s arrangements within 24-48 hours of the flight.
It is important to realize that airlines have complete control
over whether or not they allow an animal on a flight. They
are not required to carry live animals and can deny the
animal for any reason, such as poor health or disposition.
- If you
find your travel schedule frequently shifting, think about
buying unrestricted tickets. While they tend to cost more
up front than restricted tickets, they typically carry no
charge for changes. Unrestricted tickets are refundable,
while restricted tickets can only be exchanged.
flying internationally (to or from the U.S.), you should
make it a point to reconfirm your flight at least 72 hours
prior to departure for two very good reasons. First, to
make sure the flight hasn’t been rescheduled. Second, some
airlines will bump you off the passenger list if you don’t.
- On international
flights, airlines must provide a non-smoking seat to anyone
who requests one, even if the non-smoking section must be
expanded. However, they don’t have to honor your request
for an aisle or window seat, nor can you be guaranteed that
you’ll be able to sit with your travel companion. They are
not responsible for drifting smoke, but you can ask to be
seated as far away from the smoking section as possible.
are no federal requirements regarding what an airline must
provide for passengers whose flights are delayed. It’s up
to the airline, and depends on many factors. Passengers
who are bumped due to overbooking are the only ones legally
entitled to some form of compensation.
- If you
are financially affected because a flight is delayed, the
airlines are not responsible for compensating you. When
you absolutely must be there on time—closing a big business
deal, giving a paid speech, attending a wedding, etc.—your
best bet is to plan to arrive earlier than needed so you
have some leeway.
your laptop either in your lap or under the seat in front
of you in the airplane cabin. Items in the overhead bins
shift, and could damage the computer.
- Don't count on the airline for food other than a small snack and a beverage. It's not a bad idea to carry snacks of your own onto the plane in case of delays, can't deplane at a stopover, flight is during meal time, etc.
- If you
find your travel plans constantly shifting, consider flying
business or first class rather than coach. It’s usually
easier to change these tickets without an extra fee.
- Use your
frequent-flyer program wisely. Concentrate your flying on
your preferred airline rather than spreading points around
on various airlines.
airlines generally let you keep track of your frequent flyer
program online. Use this service to check their point count
against your records and contact the program if there are
bumping anyone from a flight, the law requires that airline
personnel ask for volunteers to be bumped. If you get bumped
against your will, make sure they have made an announcement
doing just that.
Click here for tips on how to meet the heightened security measures
at US airports.
- If experience
makes you suspect there may be delays or cancellations on
a multi-leg flight (and there is enough time between flights),
check your luggage on each leg of the trip, rather than
all the way through. That way you’ll always be sure your
luggage is in the same city you are.
- If you
have trouble sleeping on a plane, consider purchasing some
inexpensive foam earplugs at the drugstore to block out
booking a flight, ask how far in advance you should arrive
at the airport. Recommendations differ for each airport,
but generally count on two hours for domestic and three
for international. More time may be warranted if you are
flying at a busy time of the day, if you have to go to the
ticket counter line first for checked bags or special needs,
or if you are traveling with young children, infants, or
persons with disabilities.
security screening takes extra time. Do your part to speed
the process by keeping your ticket and ID within easy reach
at all times, by wearing shoes that are easy to get off
and on again, and by not over packing your carry-on bag.
An over packed bag takes longer to search.
- You can
shave some time off the long wait at the airport by avoiding
the ticket counter line. If you have no bags to check or
special requests to make, take your one carry-on bag and
one personal item directly through security with your ID
and ticket or receipt. Check with the airline and airport
beforehand on bag size and/or document requirements if you
- You may
no longer be able to carry on items that you used to. Items
such as golf clubs, baseball bats, etc., must now be checked.
If in doubt, call the airline or check their website for
travelers than ever are being taken aside and searched when
passing through airport security. If you haven’t traveled
since September 11th, this may feel invasive
to you. You are not being singled out as a suspect; it is
just the more stringent security measures designed to protect
us all. In most cases, too, who is selected for random search
is determined by a computer. If you do feel that you are
being treated unfairly, however, you should file a formal
complaint with the airline, the airport authority, and/or
the U.S. Department of Transportation.
taking a young toddler to an airplane lavatory, realize
that the room is not childproof. Keep control of your child’s
actions at all times, and be prepared in case turbulence
- The flight
attendant’s primary job is to make sure the passengers arrive
safely at their destination. They are trained to deal with
various situations, so follow their lead in an emergency.
turbulence cannot always be predicted. Keep your seatbelt
on to avoid injuries to yourself, other passengers, or flight
attendants. Approximately 58 passengers are injured each
year in the U.S. because they are not wearing their seatbelt
- Be flexible
about the airport into which you will fly, and you could
find great savings. For example, rates may be cheaper flying
into Fort Lauderdale (FLL) instead of Miami Airport (MIA).
Consider flying into San Jose (SJC) or Oakland (OAK) rather
than San Francisco (SFO). Compare the prices for all the
airports in the vicinity of your destination.
- One of
the best ways to get a good international fare is to book
early. Discounts can usually be found for seven, 14, and
21 days in advance, but the best fares often require a reservation
30 days in advance.
- As a
general rule, it's more expensive to fly on the weekend
than a weekday. Expect the lowest fares when flying on Tuesday,
Wednesday, and Thursday.
bereavement rates (sometimes called 'compassion fares')
are offered by most major airlines to members of the immediate
family. Sometimes the airline simply waives the advance-purchase
requirement. The airline may also offer a discount from
15-50% off normal fares. You will probably need a copy of
the death certificate. If the patient is terminally ill,
you may need to pay the full price up front and request
a refund later when a death certificate is issued. Each
airline is different, so call to get the details.
tend to book the middle of a three-seat row last. Your chances
of having an empty seat in your row are better if you and
your traveling partner request the window and aisle seat
in the same row. However if you request two seats next to
each other (i.e. the middle seat and either the window or
aisle), the remaining outside seat will almost surely get
if you're not on a restricted diet, consider requesting
one of the special meal choices when flying. These are often
tastier than standard meals, and are made with more care.
Call the airline at least 24 hours ahead of time to order,
and confirm your request at check-in.
you are checking your luggage with the airline, take a few
seconds to make sure the tag placed on your bag and your
claim check are marked with the correct airport code and
your homeowners insurance to see if it covers losses incurred
away from home. This can help you reclaim money for lost
luggage or materials stolen from hotel rooms. Check the
airline's policy on reimbursing for lost luggage. If the
maximum amount is too low, you may be able to purchase "excess
valuation" coverage when you check in.
- If you
are concerned about flight delays, book a morning flight.
Because fewer flights have occurred that day, there is less
chance of a delay. Also, if flights are disrupted, there
are more re-scheduling options throughout the remainder
of the day.
checking the price of airline fares even after you've booked
your flight. If the fare drops, you may be able to change
your ticket and receive the lower fare. You must meet the
requirements-for example, there may be a two-week advance
purchase requirement. You will have to pay any ticket-changing
fee, so make sure the change in ticket price will cover
- As a
precaution, have your doctor check your young children for
ear infections before flying.
a few days before an airplane trip, drink 8-10 glasses of
water each day and reduce your intake of caffeine and alcohol.
This will help offset in-flight dehydration.
the status of an airline flight can be a real help when
you are waiting for friends or family to arrive, or when
you are taking a flight and need to check that it will be
departing on time. Most airlines have a "flight status"
section on their web site, and many have automated response
systems on their telephone for checking flight status. Another
resource is the Track A Flight service. We’ve found it so
useful, we include it in the Links section of the WTA web
site. You can search using various methods: by departure/arrival
airport, by airline and flight number, etc. Go to our
and then click on the Track A Flight option.
a good reason you’re told to stay seated until the plane
comes to a complete halt at the end of a trip. A sudden
stop while taxiing to the gate can cause standing passengers
to be thrown into a seat back or to hit their head on an
overhead bin. If you’re feeling antsy and need to stretch
your legs, get up and walk through the cabin before the
cabins have very low humidity. Contact lens wearers can
prevent dry eyes by using eye drops during the flight and
by making sure to take out the lenses before taking a nap.
- The rules
for airline security have changed, and will continue to
change in the future. Before packing and heading to the
airport, go on-line to check out safety rules for both the
airport and the specific airline. WTA provides links to
several airlines in our
Click on ‘Airport Transport Association’, then on ATA Members.
Scroll through their members and click on the airline on
which you are traveling to search for security information.
forget to sign your children up for frequent flyer memberships;
check with the airline’s rules, but most programs accept
children as well as adults.
there is no seat in front of you for storage, a bulkhead
seat provides additional legroom that can be a godsend for
parents traveling with small children. If you can, reserve
these seats so the kids can move around a bit more than
they could otherwise.
- To avoid
severe pain due to the change in atmospheric pressure, don’t
schedule a plane trip for the same day you have dental work
by the lack of leg room in an airplane cabin? Request an
exit row seat. You must be willing to do the extra functions
required in the rare emergency situation, but you’ll also
get to enjoy the additional space. This is especially nice
on a long trip.
- To be
on the safe side, especially when traveling through foreign
airports, check your ticket after the agent reviews it.
Make sure they only took the portion they needed to and
left you with tickets for the remaining legs of your journey.
the airline’s rules about check-in requirements, which differ
depending on whether you’re flying domestically or internationally.
Travelers who don’t hold up their end of the contract and
arrive late may be bumped without compensation.
- Are you
one of the majority of air travelers who make a point of
being otherwise occupied when the flight attendant talks
about emergency procedures? Reliable statistics show that
paying attention – especially to the location of emergency
exits, which you may have to find by feel in the smoke or
in darkness – dramatically increases the likelihood of survival.
at the end of a long line when your flight is suddenly canceled?
You’re far better off on a cell phone, or even on a coin-operated
call box, talking with an agent who can re-book you before
all the seats on alternative flights are assigned to the
people ahead of you in line.
- If your
flight is delayed or canceled because of equipment or scheduling
problems (which are the responsibility of the airline),
don’t believe the passenger service rep who tells you a
dental convention has taken all the hotel rooms in town.
Go out to the sidewalk and ask drivers of the courtesy shuttles
if their hotels have any unfilled rooms. It can mean the
difference between sitting up all night in a lounge chair,
and a good night’s sleep.
- Did you
know the two principal criteria for bumping passengers from
an oversold flight? They are the price you paid for your
ticket, and whether you bought it direct from the airline
or through a discount booking service. This may be proven
illegal, but until it’s challenged in court, that’s they
way things work.
an overnight trip, few things will refresh you quicker than
washing your face and hands and brushing your teeth. Experienced
travelers always pack their toothbrush and toothpaste in
a carry-on, where they can use it in the lavatory before
the airplane lands, and not in their checked baggage.
for whom to contact at various airlines regarding service
complaints? The Aviation Consumer Protection Division of
the Department of Transportation provides this info. Go
- The Aviation
Consumer Protection Division of the Department of Transportation
provides a number of publications to assist you with making
your travel safer and easier. Below is a listing of the
publications. Go to
with Flight Delays
the Best Air Fares
of Air Travel Information
- If you
wish to place an air travel service complaint, go to the
Aviation Consumer Protection Division of the Department
of Transportation at
For tips for parents using child restraints on aircraft,
- Be sure
to give a child traveling alone the phone numbers and address
of the person who is meeting them at the airport. Make sure
this person will arrive at the airport well before your
child’s plane arrives, and brings a photo ID with them so
the airline can confirm their identity.
- The altitude
change of take-off and landing can be problematic for babies.
Plan to feed your child during those times to help reduce
the pain. Talk to your doctor before taking a baby with
ear problems on a flight; they might suggest medication.
tend to assign the middle seats in the back rows last. To
increase your chance of having an empty seat next to you,
select an aisle seat near the back of the plane.