Travel Planning/Travel Tips
The all-in-one guide guide to Air Travel
Most airline trips are uneventful. However, you can take steps to
reduce your chances of encountering problems. Here is a set of tips
for "defensive flying."
- When selecting a flight, remember that a departure early in the
day is less likely to be significantly delayed than a later flight.
Once the air traffic systems experiences difficulties, the
"ripple" effects continue throughout the day.
- If you book the last flight on the daily schedule and there
has been delay, you may find your flight being cancelled, as air
crews are limited in terms of the duty hours they can serve.
- If you have a choice between two connections and the fares and
service are equivalent, choose the one connecting through the
less-congested airport to improve the odds of remaining on schedule.
- In addition, consider potential adverse weather when choosing a
- If returning to the U.S. on an international flight, you will
have to clear customs at your first stop within the U.S. Allow
extra-time between flights for this requirement.
- Many passengers have a preferred times to arrive (usually early
afternoon) and airlines set their schedules to deliver passengers
based on these preferences. Often, a hoard of flights will land and
the same time and the rush for the Arrivals Hall is amazing.
- You will have to fight the crowds, pass Immigration, clear
Customs, reclaim your bags, re-check your bags, and, usually, travel
to another terminal to catch a “domestic” flight to reach your final
- Safeguard your ticket after you receive it. Losing it may have
financial consequences. Keep a separate record of the ticket number.
- Do not forget to carry a photo ID when you fly. Airline
security requires that you provide a photo ID to claim your
ticket or pass security. You may also need to show the credit
card you used to purchase your ticket.
- Make sure your name on the ticket is the same as it appears on
your I.D. As soon as you receive your ticket, check to make sure all
of the information on it is correct, including your name. Have any
necessary corrections made immediately.
- Keep checking the fare to your destination after you buy your
ticket. Fares change all the time and if that same fare goes down
before you fly, the airline will often refund the difference:
however, you have to ask.
- Call a day or two before your flight to reconfirm your
reservation. Flight schedules sometimes change, and while airlines
usually call to notify you if this happens, it’s wise to
- Check in early. Call the airport and check with your
airline about their "check-in" policy.
- Check in times for domestic and international flights are not
the same. The standard recommendations (as of 2006) are 60
minutes if not checking baggage, 90 minutes if checking baggage and
2 hours when flying to international destinations,
- Airlines may rescind specific advance seat assignments 30
minutes before scheduled departure if you have not checked in, even
if you already have your boarding pass.
- You can lose your entire reservation if you haven't checked in
30 minutes before scheduled departure time on a domestic flight
(longer on international flights). .
- Examine your ticket immediately after checking in for each
flight (leg) on your trip. Airline agents sometimes accidentally
lift two coupons instead of one.
- If you are "bumped" because your flight is overbooked, read the
Overbooking Notice on the back of your ticket, then ask for a copy
of the rules mentioned in that notice.
- This information applies to overbooked sales and situations when
your flight operates and leaves you behind; it does not apply to
canceled or delayed flights.
- Before agreeing to accept a travel voucher as compensation
for being bumped, ask about restrictions that may be placed on
the voucher. For example, with some vouchers you can't book a
reservation more than a week before the flight.
- Put a tag on the outside of your baggage with your contact
information. If you are uncomfortable providing details on
your home address, provide information at work.
- The airlines provide free stick-on tags.
- Many air carriers also have "privacy tags" which use a flap to
conceal this information from prying eyes.
- Place contact information inside each bag (usually the
telephone number where you can be reached at your destination
- Verify that the agent checking your bags attaches a
destination tag to each one. Check to see that these tags show
the three-letter code for your destination airport. Remove tags
from previous trips to avoid confusion.
- If your bag arrives open or unlocked, check immediately to
see if any contents are missing or damaged.
- Report any baggage problems to your airline before
leaving the airport.
- Be sure to fill out a lost or damaged luggage form and
ask for a copy.
- Often your bag will arrive later in the day. Ask
the airline if they will deliver the bag without charge,
when it is found.
- Open your suitcase when you get to your destination and
check its contents. Report any damage to contents or pilferage
as soon as possible.
- Make a note of the date and time of the call, and the name
and telephone number of the person who took your report.
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