Thursday, September 11, 2014

Book holiday flights early

Planning a trip to visit family or friends for the holidays? If you’re flying to your destination, hopefully you booked flights before several airlines raised rates last week. No? Then book now.
Travel volumes have been strong all year, which means higher demand during the holiday season is likely. Ticket prices will be higher (lower fuel costs notwithstanding) and seats harder to find.

Plans far ahead for air travel during the holidays.
"During the past several years, the holiday travel period has continued to be a challenging time for travelers, and with industry-wide seat capacity reduction, it will remain a stressful travel experience," said Dean Headley, Airline Quality Rating co-author and associate professor of marketing at Wichita State University.

"December typically has one of the worst industry performance scores of any month, so it’s no surprise that December 2013 was the worst month for the entire year. The best bet for the consumer is to travel as early before the actual holiday or as late as possible afterward, and always leave room for schedule changes," Headley adds.

Airline mergers continue to shrink consumer choices. Unfortunately, larger airlines don’t necessarily result in improved performance, Headley says. Also, add-on fees are increasing and travel is becoming more stressful in general. (Remember the recent confrontations over reclining seats?)

The Atlanta airport is one of the busiest in the U.S. Allow
additional  time during the holidays to check in and find your correct gate.
If you do decide to travel by air, be sure to allow enough time to make connecting flights. I’d recommend no less than an hour for domestic flights, and that’s still risky because flights could be delayed for weather reasons--common during the winter. Or flight schedules could change; getting crews to the airport in a timely manner seems to be an increasing problem for some airlines. One year I even got caught in the unfortunate situation where baggage handlers went on strike at Christmas, bringing travel to a halt.

Consider shipping packages ahead of time, or leave presents unwrapped in your bags. Pack light to avoid checking luggage, if possible. No sense putting your belongings at additional risk of getting lost.

Check-in online the day before travel, and check flight status prior to leaving for the airport. Then bring your most cheerful holiday attitude, and try to be considerate of others wherever you’re flying.

Photos from free sources.


No comments: