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7 ways to avoid air travel troubles

- April 12th, 2010

There’s no question air travel has changed since commercial airlines first left the runway.

What was once a glamorous journey through the skies, complete with cocktails and ashtrays in armrests, is now a humourless experience where travellers are made to hurry-up-and-wait at airports, pay extra fees for checked luggage, and fight for personal space on board like the littlest sardine in the tin.

Even the most seasoned flier can find air travel stressful and trying at the best of times. While many unexpected problems are out of the passenger’s control, it pays to be prepared. Consumer Reports’ April ShopSmart magazine has listed several tips travellers can employ in their own journeys to ensure the way is as smooth as possible.

1. Book your ticket for the first flight of the day. Early flights are more likely to be on time and less likely to experience delays or mechanical problems.

2. If possible, book a direct flight to avoid connection problems, lost luggage, and missed flights.

3. Choose an airline with multiple flights through the day to increase your chances of getting to your destination if your original flight is delayed or cancelled.

4. Don’t drink tap water on the airplane. The Environmental Protection Agency has reported that water from one in six planes tested positive for E.Coli. Instead, opt for purified water to keep your tummy happy through the flight.

5. Master the art of packing the carry-on bag and skip checking any luggage to avoid extra fees and lost suitcases.

6. Never pack valuables – whether your jewelry or new digital camera – in checked bags. These items could easily go missing with your luggage and it is often an uphill battle versus the airline to be reimbursed for property.

7. Know what your travel insurance covers – from trip cancellation to rental car insurance to lost luggage – before you book, rent a car, or try your hand at parasailing. Many travellers are already covered through work, homeowner’s insurance, or through their credit card, and it pays to know what you’re owed if the worst happens.

- Nicole Feenstra

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1 comment

  1. Nate | April 13, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    I can’t believe the stat about airline water. I don’t think a lot of people ARE drinking tap water on airplanes, but then again to have 1 in 6 carrying a serious bacteria like E. Coli is pretty disturbing. And if airlines are going to charge 5 dollars for a bottle of water, more people might be tempted to take a quick sip from the tap.

    Another tip I’d have is the age old “identify your bag” strategy with a ribbon or different colored tag. However this can be easier said than done, as last year my luggage tag had gotten torn off in transit, and I spent 30 minutes trying to identify my yellow tag that was no longer there! I recently came upon some pretty cool identifiers called Luggage Huggers. Used them on my spring break trip and found that there is no way you are missing your bag with one of these on it!

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