December 8, 2010

December 8, 2010
Holiday Travel: Airport Survival

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Wednesday and we have almost made it through the middle of another work week. I hope you are having a safe and great week so far.

Dab the AIDS Bear and I travel almost three hundred days a year. So we have a lot of experience of surviving all the perils of traveling and especially with airlines. So since most of you will be traveling during the holiday season, I decided to write the blog for today about holiday traveling survival with an emphasis on airline travel.

*Travel experts share tips for fliers who may be intimidated by the airport experience

* About 24 million people are expected to fly during this Thanksgiving holiday season

* Online check in can save you some hassles and maybe even some money

* Holiday travel rush, beefed up screening mean it is crucial to arrive at the airport early

The crowds. The lines. The security and scanning. The sprint to the gate. All of it can overwhelm air travelers especially during the holiday rush but it does not have to be that way.

And as security measures continue to ramp up, with pat downs and new scans, navigating overbooked flights, overflowing airports just got a bit more dicey.

Here are some tips to make the airport experience a smooth one, especially if you have not flown since last holiday season.

But first, be aware that you will have lots of company in your quest to share the holidays with relatives.

It is estimated that 42.2 million people will travel at least 50 miles from home for Thanksgiving, according to AAA and IHS Global Insight. That is an 11 percent increase from last year, when 37.9 million people traveled during the holiday.

And about 24 million people will be crammed into airplanes, a 3.5 percent increase over last year, according to the Air Transport Association of America, which represents some of the nation's biggest airlines.

The busiest travel day is expected to be the Sunday after Christmas, followed by the Monday after the holiday, the ATA said. The Friday before Christmas week and the will be the other peak travel days.

The least busy travel day? The eve of the holiday itself: December 24th.

No matter what day you fly, here are five tips to survive the airport this holiday season.

1. Hit the web before you head for the airport

Let modern technology save you some hassles and maybe even some money. Check in online up to 24 hours before your flight is scheduled to leave, and print your boarding pass at home.

This allows you to secure your seat assignment, double check for any schedule changes and decrease your chances of getting bumped if your flight is oversold.

New since the holidays last year: More carriers now allow you to check in from your smart phone and use a digital bar code on the screen to pass through the airport.

If you are using this option, save the bar code as a photo on your device, which will make it much easier to retrieve at security and at the gate, advised Bryan Saltzburg, general manager of TripAdvisor Flights.

If you are checking bags, many airlines have raised their fees this year, but some offer discounts if you prepay during the online check in. Delta, Continental and US Airways, for example, take $2 off the first bag and $3 off the second if you pay online when you check in for your flight on the carrier's website.

Know before you go. There are fees, and it is important to educate yourself and be prepared and handle as much of the check in process before you actually get to the airport.

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab