Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Last Minute Holiday Travel Advice

You probably don't need to be reminded this is the busiest travel season of the year.

Here are six tips to reduce airport stress and delays for your Christmas holiday visit with family or your annual Caribbean escape or ski safari to get away from them.

1- Check in early. Many airlines now allow check-in from your computer up to 24 hours prior to departure time, even printing out a boarding pass. Many airlines, including US Airways, now provide updated information on gates and flight delays through text-enabled Treo and BlackBerry devices and mobile phones.

2- Allow plenty of time. For parking, check-in and security. Although rules vary by airport and airline, you will lost your seat and your baggage will not make it on board unless you check in at least 30-45 minutes before your flight.

3- Avoid extra baggage charges. Curbside check-in is faster, but many airlines, including American and United, now charge $2 per bag for curbside check-in. Another reason to check in early and take your bags inside to save money.

4- Use check-in kiosks. Generally faster than conventional check-in lines. Swipe a credit card to print out a boarding pass. Some new kiosks can read a US Passport.

5- Pack carefully. Most airlines limit you to two pieces of checked luggage per ticket. Overweight and extra bags can cost as much as $100. Bags are generally considered overweight if they weigh more than 50 lbs.

6- Remember the 3-1-1 rule. Carry-on liquids are limited to tubes and bottles of three ounces or less, all visible inside a single one-quart see-through plastic bag. Whatever doesn't fit inside the zip-close baggie will be confiscated. Some airports provide properly sized plastic bags at the start of the security line as a courtesy. Better to have your carry-on mouthwash, hand lotion, hair gel and other necessities already packed and ready.

More tomorrow.