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Tips for Surviving Holiday Airport Travel

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By Tom Parsons

RISMEDIA, Nov. 29, 2008-(MCT)-If you’ll be traveling during the upcoming winter holidays, we’ve got some tips for you. If you’ve procrastinated on booking flights, you may be in luck. We are seeing decent fares with no advance purchase required. You’ll want to avoid flying on Sunday, Nov. 30, because fares are high on that day.

Be sure to look at alternate cities if your fare is high. For example, we priced Christmas flights from Dallas to Daytona Beach and found fares of $543 round-trip versus $319 round-trip to Orlando and $328 round-trip to Jacksonville. It may be inconvenient to have to drive 77 miles, but paying more is a bigger inconvenience to me.

If you are buying more than one ticket (say you are traveling with your family of four), check the price for just one ticket, and then compare that with the per-person price for all four travelers. On some websites, if there aren’t enough seats for the group in the lowest-fare class, they’ll bump the cost up for all of the tickets.

For example, if there are three seats in the airline inventory at $189 each, but there are four seats available for $249 each, you’ll be charged $249 each for all four tickets. There is no reason to pay more than you have to, so either book your tickets separately or check a different booking engine.

If you are flying in coach, choose seats in the back of the plane. Most airlines board from the back to the front, so you’ll be able to stow your luggage first if you sit in the back. With the current fees for checking luggage, it can be difficult to find overhead space.

Print your boarding pass at home and don’t check luggage. This will save you a lot of time. If you end up not having space for your carry-on luggage on the flight, the airline will check your bag at the gate for free.

Make sure you get to the airport early. You do not want to miss your flight during the holidays since it will be difficult to get seats on other flights.

The TSA now has family lanes, so if you are traveling with little ones, be sure to use them.

Check your itinerary. We see seasonal changes in flight times, which can cause changes to your itinerary, and more than 3,000 daily flights have been canceled in recent months.

Check the price of your holiday flights and get a credit if it has gone low enough. Many airlines are charging hefty fees of $150 to change tickets, so check your airline’s policy to see if you qualify.

Tom Parsons is publisher of BestFares.com: www.bestfares.com

© 2008, The Dallas Morning News.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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