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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanksgiving Airline Travel Tips

I have been fortunate to be able to travel to dozens of schools and conferences every year for the last few years. In the process I've picked up a lot of tips that can make airline travel bearable. My friends know this and one, who is a teacher and is traveling with her children tomorrow, asked if I could share some tips for Thanksgiving airline travel.

1. Get there early! This is obvious, but it cannot be stressed enough. Early usually means an hour before flight time. However, during this time of year early is two hours before a domestic flight time.

2. Plan for delays and cancellations. Even if it is bright and sunny at your home and at your destination, there can be delays to your flights. Before you get to the airport look at alternate flights to your destination that are available on your airline. You can do this by doing a dummy booking on the airline's website (stop before the field asking for your credit card). Write down those flight numbers and keep them handy in case of significant delay or cancellation. This will save the airline agent time and relieve a bit of your stress if you know what your options are.

3. Know your airline's reservations desk phone number. When your flight gets delayed or cancelled you will have to wait in line to see an airline agent. Get on the phone with the airline's reservation desk while you're waiting in line. Often you will get through on the phone before you get to the front of an airport line. Give the phone agent the alternate flight numbers that you found before you left your house.

4. Bring a small power strip and make friends. There are never enough outlets to go around in an airport terminal. Bring a small power strip (I found one at Walmart that has four outlets with a one foot cord) and then you only need to find one outlet to charge your phone and those your friends, family, or strangers.

5. Check-in online as early as possible. Almost every airline allows you to start checking in for your flight 24 hours before departure. Check-in as early as possible to find the best possible seat. Let's say your original ticket has you stuck in the middle seat, you may find that when you check-in a window or aisle seat has opened up due to someone changing his/her reservation. Be aware that some airlines charge a fee if you don't check-in online.

For the nervous flyers:
I was once a very nervous flyer. That changed once I realized that the pilots want to land safely just as much as I do. Pilots won't fly unless they feel safe. Those sounds you hear the plane making, they're normal.