Making Airline Travel Less Stressful

Get cheap airline tickets and avoid the crowds

The Air Transport Association is predicting that 2006 will see record numbers of passengers; especially during the summer season. With nearly 207 million passengers boarding commercial airplanes in the United States this year, terminals are going to be crowded and people are going to be crabby. Additionally, due to the rise in gas rises, which especially affects airlines, the domestic capacity will be down this summer, leaving fewer planes to carry more travelers. Don’t let this discourage you from traveling though; you just need to plan ahead. Follow these few travel tips and you’ll make airline travel less stressful and make summer vacations moreenjoyable.

Booking your tickets: How to get cheap airline tickets and avoid the crowds Trying to book airline tickets is always stressful. There are so many things that need to be considered, especially the price. Just break down the decisions into steps and the task will be less formidable. The more flexible your travel plans are, the better deals you will get. First, when are you traveling? The best deals can be found if you leave during the week and stay through Saturday. Second, the time of day you leave is almost as important. Often less popular times like early morning or late night departure times will be less costly. Also, the airport will be less crowded during the times and alsoduring the week.

If the prices still are high, try looking at departing or arriving at different airports. Sometimes neighboring airports will offer better deals. For example if you are vacationing in
San Francisco, arriving in Oakland or San Jose may save you hundreds of dollars. Additionally, if you are looking to save money, nonstop flights can oftentimes be more expensive. If layovers are not too bothersome, they can oftentimes save travelers money. The more you shop around – the better deals you will find. Visit multiple airline ticket sites like Priceline or Travelocity. Another great place to find cheap airline tickets online is Studentuniverse.com. This Web site offers cheap airline tickets for students and educators.

Picking the best seat So, you’ve found the best deal out there, now you get to choose where you are sitting — this is one of most important airline travel tips. The first decision is front, back or middle. If you are in a hurry or have connecting flights that need to be made, a seat near the front of the plane is your best choice. If you are traveling with children, the bulkhead seats are a good choice because it allows for more legroom, but these seats also do not have seats in front of you to store items under. Children are not allowed to sit in the exit rows. So, if you want to keep clear of children, the exit rows are a good choice to sit in. They also have more legroom, but you are responsible for opening the exits and assisting if there is an accident. If you get airsick or just hate turbulence, the seats over the wings offer the smoothest ride for airline travel. The last decision is window or aisle seat. If you want to sleep the window seat allows you to lean against the side for comfier snoozing. If you have large legs or have to get up and move a lot to get things from your carry on bags, the aisle seat will be the best choice to make airline travel more comfortable

Check-in: Airline travel tips Once again, the crowds will be smaller during the earlier departure times and during the week. However, to expediate the whole check-in process there are several things you can do. First, if you have an electronic ticket, make sure to have your confirmation number and you may want to call ahead and confirm with the airline to avoid any last minute problems. Departure delays and any other flight information can be found on-line prior to leaving for the airport. To ensure you do not miss your flight, arrive at the airport at least 1 ½ hours prior to departure or earlier if it is a busy flying season like holidays. Electronic check-in kiosks are the quickest; make sure you have a credit card and your ID handy. If you have luggage that needs to be checked in, make sure there is an attendant at the electronic check-in to do that. One way to beat the check-in line is to use the curbside check-in service. There usually are no lines outside. The only downside to curbside check-in is if you’re checking luggage that it may not get to your destination as quick, and it is not available for international travel. However, I have never had trouble with my luggage getting lost with curbside check-in and it always saves me plenty of time.

The second check point before boarding the plane is security. After September 11, security has been enhanced, but if you know what to expect you can breeze through the security without any problems. First, no lighters, scissors or knives are allowed so don’t bring them with. Most airports will you require to take your shoes and belt off, before going through the metal detector. Also, laptops need to be taken out of the case and placed in their own receptacle. Have your ID and ticket ready at all times, because it will be checked here as well. Once you’re through with security it’s time to find your terminal. If you are unfamiliar with the airport, it is beneficial to print a map off on-line or at least look at it before departure.

No Elbow room: How to deal With fewer planes and record numbers, planes are going to be crowded. According to the Air Transport Association planes may be at as high as 85 percent capacity. So, when choosing your seat keep in mind that the plane may be overcrowded. If you’re sitting in the middle or window seat, make sure that you have everything from your carry-on bag that you will need so you do not have to get up frequently. There is nothing you can do about bad airplane food, bad movies or the fact that you are stuck in the middle seat next to a fat guy, with an annoying kid behind you, so prepare for it all. Pack a snack or eat before you leave and bring plenty of things to entertain yourself with. Earplugs always are nice too, if you want to mask out the screams of small children. Most importantly though, just remain calm and do not stress out, you are on vacation.

Elvis has left the building After being crammed on an airplane for hours, leaving the airport as quickly as possible is most surely on your mind. Plan your exit travel plans before leaving. Some hotels offer airport pick-up service, so when booking your hotel ask if that option is offered and plan a pick-up place. Some airlines also offer package deals with airline tickets, car rentals and hotel reservations. If you’re traveling with your family this is a great deal, especially if you have lots of children and need a larger vehicle to fit them all. The Transportation Security Administration said it is expecting nearly 200 million air travelers nationwide between Memorial Day and Labor Day, so in order to avoid the crowds as much as possible, get cheap airline tickets and make travel less stressful, follow these simple airline travel tips and you’ll be on your way to fun.

Jillan Scheeler makes it easy to provide cheap airline tick

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Airline Travel

Rising fuel prices have impacted airline travel. Be prepared, and adjust your plans accordingly.

Continental Airlines plans to slash 3,000 jobs and reduce domestic flights in an effort to reduce operating costs. The cuts include pilots, flight attendants, mechanics, administrative personnel, and management.

“These actions will help Continental survive the crisis,” wrote Chairman and Chief Executive Larry Kellner, and President Jeff Smisek, in a letter to Continental’s 45,000 employees. In a move to demonstrate a personal response and commitment, the executives also announced that they would forgo incentive pay for the rest of 2008.

It has been estimated that charges for fuel will be $2.3 billion higher in 2008 than in the previous year. Beginning in September, Continental will decrease capacity by 11%, and will remove 67 airplanes from the fleet by the end of 2009.

United Airlines announced 14% reduction of capacity planned for fourth quarter of 2008. United Airlines is cutting 1,600 jobs.

United Airlines said that it will eliminate Ted, the discount arm of the airline launched in 2004. Ted catered to leisure travelers with only coach-class seating, but in the spring of 2009, the 56 Airbus A320′s will be reconfigured with first class seats and returned to the United Airlines fleet. At the same time, United Airlines will retire 94 Boeing 747′s as unprofitable planes and routes.

Delta announced 10% reduction of capacity in the fourth quarter of 2008.

American Airlines announced plans to reduce capacity by 12% in the fourth quarter of 2008.

As oil prices continue to rise, airlines are forced to respond with fewer flights, fewer routes, less staff, more passengers per plane, and higher prices. Reduced capacity translates to fewer flights, and this means that many of the smaller airports may be the first to feel the pinch. While some travelers may have enjoyed the convenience of smaller airports for proximity or to avoid the crowds of large airports, the availability of flight options may be greatly reduced. Airlines simply cannot afford to move aircraft with empty seats, so expect full flights, or expect that route to be on the chopping block.

In an effort to increase the number of passengers per plane, flights that do not have enough passengers may be canceled to combine passengers with other flights to the same destination. While many frequent flyers have experienced this interruption in travel plans in the past, it is likely to become commonplace while the airlines adjust to the new demands. When incomplete flights are combined, the result is typically an overbooking situation, which means more passengers than seats. As a result, some passengers may be temporarily stranded in a city overnight, pending an available flight the following day. Overbooking will become even more common as airlines endeavor to keep prices down by filling every seat on the plane.

What does all this mean to you?

Expect full flights. You will be able to tell your grandchildren about the days when you secretly counted the remaining number of individuals boarding the plane in hopes that you would have an empty seat between the window and aisle. Your grandchildren will think that you are making up stories when you tell them about the complimentary meals and movies that you enjoyed on the plane ride. One day the free meals and movies may sound as ridiculous as allowing smoking on a plane, imagine that.

Expect longer delays at security and check-in counters. Yes it is true, security is becoming more efficient, and automated check-in counters are intended to facilitate faster service. Nonetheless, as routes are consolidated and oversold crowds are consolidated into flight patterns that maximize the productivity of reduced staff to handle them, human traffic jams will occur. It is inevitable that consolidation will occur in the battle to control price increases, and in many ways the check-in lines will more often resemble the crowded lines at theme parks, mouse ears and all.

When possible, book direct flights. While this may be slightly more expensive than those connecting flights that enabled you to eat lunch in Houston and dessert in Orlando, it will also decrease your risk of spending an unexpected evening in Texas. When making your travel plans, consider the risk of an unexpected hotel and transportation in a connecting city, while your luggage goes on without you. Try to schedule your travel on morning flights, as opposed to the typical evening business flights, to allow greater opportunity for another flight without an overnight delay. If you do need to book a connecting flight, make sure that you have at least one hour between flights at the connecting airport. Remember that next flight boards thirty minutes before the scheduled flight time, which means that your seat could be on the roulette wheel if there is any delay on your original flight. Take responsibility to check your travel carefully when booking flights, and reduce your risks.

Allow some flexibility in your schedule, just in case you are delayed. Whether your travel is personal or professional, you will get where you need to go, eventually. If all goes well, you will arrive on time, and without incident. In the event that you are delayed, or your plans need to be adjusted, remember to always be courteous to the individual on the other side of the counter. Odds are that the staff member has lost many good friends and colleagues in the workforce reduction, and is now striving to do multiple jobs at once. Have compassion, for they are attempting to resolve the personal challenges for every passenger, every inconvenience, and every emergency that comes over the counter. Show your compassion, and you are more likely to receive a little in return.

As airline travel is impacted, it will have a domino effect on the rest of the travel industry. As prices increase, leisure travel diminishes, and routes are eliminated, so too must car rental companies adjust the inventory of available vehicles at appropriate airports. Consider booking your car well in advance, especially when traveling to a popular destination or busy airport. It will become more likely for car rental agencies to sell out.

The hospitality industry will also be impacted by decreased activity. Although this will be a delayed result, based on the adjusted number of travelers, the good news is that hotels may offer competitive discounts and incentives to retain loyal customers. You should sign-up for programs and be vigilant for special deals.

Those special airline rates for leisure travelers, and the last minute special deals for under $100, are likely to disappear. Prices for all seats are expected to increase, and fewer route options with fuller flights will mean that special discounts will be placed on the endangered species list. And for those hardy business travelers who have saved those frequent flyer miles in hopes of tropical vacation paradise, expect black-out periods and greater advance planning to use those miles in the crowded skies. If fuel prices continue to rise, consider your options to use those accumulated miles this year. Rising costs will force some airlines to introduce even more restrictions on the use of accumulated miles, since these free seats become a liability to cash-flow. Airlines have adjusted the policies on mileage in the past, and are likely to do it again in 2009. Your mileage may not be protected if your carrier of choice is forced to merge, be acquired, or enforce restrictions as a part of an economic reorganization plan. Take a break of the bad news of rising gas prices and fuel charges, and use your miles to go on a well earned vacation while you can still get the most for your miles.

It’s not all bad news. If hotels offer special rates, you might find some nice local vacation packages before the end of 2008, and early 2009. Rising fuel prices, reduced routes, and prohibitive restrictions on air travel may encourage more businesses to use teleconferencing, VOIP, and other technology to collaborate over long distances. A little less travel may mean a little more time at home, and that is always a good thing.

Words of Wisdom

“The scientific theory I like best is that the rings of Saturn are composed entirely of lost airline luggage.” – Mark Russell

“The saying “Getting there is half the fun” became obsolete with the advent of commercial airlines.”
- Henry J. Tillman

“Here’s what I think the truth is: We are all addicts of fossil fuels in a state of denial, about to face cold turkey.” – Kurt Vonnegut

John Mehrmann is author of The Trusted Advocate: Accelerate Success with Authenticity and Integrity, the fundamental guide to achieving extraordinary sales and sustaining loyal customers. This revolutionary book applies peak management techniques and leadership skills, with common sense and practical applications to grow business, sustain loyal customers, and use personal talents for personal success.

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