Regardless of the reason for your travel, personal or business, air travel can be stressful. Some people do not have the option of using travel agents to plan their itineraries. Here are some helpful tips to assist in creating well-planned air travel itineraries.
Plan Your Trip
Begin by planning your trip. Outline travel dates, listing all possible departure dates and times. Jot down services that you will need, such as transportation, lodging, and airport parking.
Airline Reservations (Fares, Ticketing, and Seating)
Several airlines guarantee the cheapest airfares on their websites. You will probably pay less for your flight if you have flexible travel dates, times, and routes. Try to avoid last-minute flights, as it is best to make reservations in advance. Off-peak flights (flights that are not in times of high demand, such as holiday seasons, summer, and Monday morning and Friday evening) are usually discounted.
Tickets are issued after reservations are paid. Many airlines issue an electronic ticket, or e-ticket, which is an electronic record of your booking. An itinerary receipt with flight details is prepared and e-mailed or printed for your reference, with a unique six-character Passenger Name Record (PNR), which is used to identify your booking. The e-ticket itinerary contains the ticket number, baggage allowance, fare, surcharge, payment information, and conditions and rights of your booking. For check-in at the airport, be prepared with a valid ID and your e-ticket itinerary. If you booked your ticket via credit card, be prepared to present the credit card at check-in. If you are issued a paper ticket, be prepared to present the paper ticket at check-in.
Visit the airline’s website to check your seat assignment. If you are dissatisfied with your seat, see if you can select another seat. There are some online sites that have detailed seat maps. A few airlines do not assign seats and assign you a boarding group, which is determined by how early you confirm your flight on-line within 24 hours of the flight. If you are checking in at the airport and do not have an assigned seat, ask to see if there is a desirable seat available. If there is a problem with your seat, inform the flight attendant as soon as possible so that they have time to reseat you.
Rental Car Reservations
Rental car companies usually offer their best rates on their websites. The Internet also offers a wide selection of websites for making rental car reservations. Many rental car companies offer corporate and/or association discounts. It is important to note any restrictions, such as intra-state driving, mileage cap, etc.
Hotels usually offer their best rates on their own websites (not opaque sites like Priceline), or in coupon books. Hotel websites often have virtual tours of their facilities, and list their different room types and amenities. The Internet is a valuable resource for finding and comparing hotel rates.
Airport Parking Reservations
Whether your travels require short-term or long-term parking for your vehicle, airport parking reservations is a sure way to eliminate the stress of looking for a parking place at the airport. There are several off-site airport parking companies that are open 24/7/365, with fenced-in lots, 24-hour surveillance, and complimentary shuttle service. The airport parking companies usually offer their best rates on their websites, where you can select the parking lot and make a reservation.
Do some homework about your destination, and what precautions might be necessary to stay healthy in that location. If you have a chronic condition, visit your physician before your trip for a pre-travel checkup. If you have allergies or other health issues, wear a medical alert bracelet. Ask your physician for tips on avoiding jet lag, altitude sickness, leg circulation difficulties and other travel concerns. Health information for specific locations can be found at cdc.gov/travel.