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Traveling for Christmas? Here’s What Your Airline Won’t Tell You

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Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. That is, if you’re not flying. Here are a few things that your airline won’t tell you. 

You’re Not Guaranteed A Seat

I know, right? We go through the rigamaroll of navigating the site, finding a flight time that works for us and paid the stupid fees and now we may not even get a seat? Yes. It’s true. Airlines routinely overbook flights to avoid empty seats due to last minute reservation cancellations. If those cancellations don’t happen and that leaves us stranded. According to the Department of Transportation, more than 43 thousand passengers were left behind in the first nine months of this year. Airline experts say to book the first flight of the day so if something happens, you still have the rest of the day to catch a flight. Also, get there in plenty of time. I’m anal retentive so I get there about two and a half hours before boarding.


You May Not Get There On Time

I’m all about punctuality, but did you know that roughly one in five flights is delayed 15 minutes or more? The DOT report on airline travel in 2013 says that about 20 percent of domestic flights arrived and departed late. That’s the highest in five years. FlightStats tracking service shows that on time performance varies wildly from carrier to carrier. BestFares CEO Tom Parsons says that the increase in delays is due to an increase in the frequency and severity of storms. JetBlue blames it on “congested airspace”. United blames it on a shortage of air traffic controllers. I was on a flight to New York that was delayed on the ground before we took off and it was also delayed as we were on final. We had to turn around and circle for an hour. I thought I was going to lose it. Everyone has their own excuse, and there’s really nothing we can do to avoid it.


Your Miles Are Not Worth What You Thought

We carefully spend our money with our airline rewards cards only to find out they’re worth nothing or if we don’t use them, we lose them. Airfare for my first trip to New York City didn’t cost a penny thanks to that policy, so I can’t be too upset, but if you have a miles rewards cards, coming in 2014, your miles policy will change and your miles may be worth nothing, or worth less so we’ll have to spend more to get the same amount of miles. If you aren’t a frequent flier or aren’t loyal to an airline, travel experts say we may want to just forego the airline miles rewards cards in favor of a more generous cash back rewards type of program.


They Charge You Just Because They Can

You want an aisle seat? You’re going to pay. Want a window seat? Cough it up. It doesn’t cost the airlines any extra money to have these seats on their airplanes, but if we want to sit there, they’re going to charge us and they do it because they can. If we pick our seats when we book, we’re going to pay somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 to $75 for it. An airline industry insider says that we can avoid the fee if we wait until the day we fly to choose where we want to sit.

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