You have to be a hardy soul to survive holiday travel, especially this year, when there are fewer flights, fewer airline employees and more security restrictions.
The Wall Street Journal’s Middle Seat columnist Scott McCartney had an excellent story today about what to expect. Here are five important tips:
- Print out your boarding pass at home the day before. You typically can print out your pass 24 hours in advance of the flight, and you should. Getting that pass helps you secure a seat and reduces your chances of getting involuntarily bumped.
- Sign up for flight alerts. McCartney recommends signing up with the airline as well as with FlightStats.com, which he says picks up some changes the airlines don’t.
- Know the rules for security and baggage. Almost all the airlines charge for the first checked bag, but paying these fees online before you get to the airport may save you money. Also, no matter how frequent a flier you are, you’ll want to take a few minutes to review TSA security rules, which change constantly.
- Don’t volunteer to get bumped without a confirmed seat on the next flight. Giving up your seat can be a great way to score free travel and even cash, but fewer, more crowded flights mean you could be waiting days on standby.
- Consider an airport lounge day pass. These run about $50 and give you access not only to a sanctuary in a crowded airport, but to airline agents who are typically the most experienced. If anything goes wrong, they can help you rebook your flight.