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Travel Tips
 

This article is a compendium of a number of tips  that cover the  "gotchas' you need to watch out for when using air travel either domestically or internationally.

 

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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 connecting city.
  • 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 destination.

 

  • 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 double-check.
  • 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 city).
  • 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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