Thanksgiving flights aren’t just more expensive this year–there are tricks up the airline’s sleeves that might make travel even less comfortable, too. Fear not, however. There are some tried and true means of survival in the face of airline snafus that often work.
An expected 25.1 million people will fly during the 2013 Thanksgiving travel period, with December 1st expected to be the most congested travel day. Thanksgiving Day itself is the slowest of the holiday travel days. Book accordingly, and check out the following tips to ensure a more stress-free flight that will find you arriving at your destination in plenty of time for turkey and pie.
1. ExpertFlyer.com could become your favorite Thanksgiving travel friend. If seating becomes an issue during a leg of your flight, they will keep you apprised of openings. They can even tell you–via your cell phone–when adjacent seats become available so you and Aunt Edna can sit side by side.
— Business Traveler (@BizTravelerNA) November 7, 2013
2. Always take advantage of your airline’s option for early check-in via email. Most airlines will send travelers a link through which they check-in and print their boarding passes at home. If your flight is over sold, you are far less likely to lose your seat if you’ve checked in early.
3. If there is an issue with your scheduled flight–a delay or a cancellation–don’t simply stand in line with droves of like passengers, hoping that the gate attendants will solve your problem. While standing in that line, dial the airline directly from your cell phone. You may find there is a solution to your problem before you even reach the agent at the desk.
— NerdWallet (@NerdWallet) November 4, 2013
4. If the airline’s toll-free number is experiencing delays, call the international number. Yes, you will pay for the call, but it may help get you home before Uncle Harry eats that last piece of pumpkin pie.
5. Weigh your luggage before bringing it to the airport. Most airlines stick by a very strict 50 pound limit for checked bags. Spirit Airlines maxes you out at 40 pounds. You could pay up to $100 extra if your bag goes over these limits. Investing in a $10 luggage scale is well worth your money. If you don’t have one, put it on the good old bathroom scale instead.
6. Don’t ever check valuables. The same goes for medication or anything you absolutely must have when you reach your destination. Carry an empty nylon or canvas tote bag folded in your carry-on luggage just in case you are told you must check the bag. Transfer valuables, medications, etc. into the tote bag and keep them with you on the plane.
No, these tips won’t guarantee smooth sailing, but they do provide a few options for not succumbing to the tricks up many airline’s sleeves. If you’re among the 25.1 million travelers taking Thanksgiving flights this year, allow yourself as much extra time as you can to reach the airport, your gate and your destination. Take a deep breath and imagine the effects of that tryptophan that follows the inevitable (even if you’re late and have to eat leftovers!) Thanksgiving feast.
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