Monday, October 29, 2007

Pat's Rules for Air Travel

So my little adventure reported in my last two posts brings me to a place where I should probably review my "rules" for air travel. I violated several of them the past couple weeks and that just means extra stress.

Keep in mind that I will sometimes do odd things in my travel to pick up a few extra miles or segments, so I'm not very good at following my own advice. Also, I hate to deal with the "3-1-1" baggies, so I rarely have carry on bags.


Flight Times:

That 0600 flight might get you to where you want to be at a decent hour, but remember that you have to get up and be at the airport at an ungodly hour and that early wake up call is going to be awful.

RULE 1: Avoid the dawn patrol.

You might want to work a full day where you are and take the last flight out of Dodge, but if anything goes sideways, you might get stuck.

RULE 2: Avoid the last flight of the day.


Connections:

Even though the airline allows you to book a 45 minute connection, don't do it. If that first flight is delayed, you're going to be running -- or you'll miss your connection.

RULE 3: Avoid connections that are less than 90 minutes. Two hours is best.

If you are making a connection, make sure that the first leg of your flight is not the last flight of the day that will allow ANY connection to your ultimate destination.

RULE 4: Make certain that your originating flight to your connection city allows you options if you are delayed or that flight is canceled.


Managing Changes:

It never hurts to pre-plan some options. Download your favorite airline's timetable and have the timetable build you a list of flights to your ultimate destination. That way, if you original routing gets messed up, you have options to suggest. If you are originating in a city where there are multiple airports served by your airline, take a look at options offered at the other airports.

RULE 5: Have options in mind if your original plans go sideways.

Stress is a bad thing. When your plans go awry, the worst thing that you can do is get angry and frustrated. No matter how messed up things get, yelling at the person behind the counter will do very little and likely makes them less likely to help you.

RULE 6: It may not feel like the "small stuff", but getting all bent out of shape over changes to your plans solves very little.


Other Stuff:

If you're able to board your flight in the first group, it is reasonable to bring along your carry-on suitcase. That gives you a lot more options since the airline may not always go find your bag if you don't take the flight. In addition, some bags will not travel the same routing as you. But please check the steamer trunk.

RULE 7: Carry-on luggage provides you with more options. But make sure that your bag will fit in the overhead -- and make sure that you board early.

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