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Q- How to get the best airfares?

Everyone seeks cheap airfares and aim at saving the maximum amount they can. In order to get the best airfares for your travel plans, be flexible with your travelling dates. This is because you are likely to get the best deals for your e-ticketing only on certain days of the week or on particular hours of the day. Holiday periods often come with greater airfares but you can still get a discount if you fly on the holiday itself. Plan your trips ahead of time. Compare fares offered by different airlines to get the best deals.

Q- How should you decide which flight to fly on?

A change of planes comes cheaper than a nonstop flight to your destination. But choosing to travel with a connection of flights has a risk – you can end up missing your second flight if the first flight gets delayed. While choosing a connecting flight, ensure to have enough time so that you don't miss your connecting flight even if there is a delay. Also note that the early morning flights are less likely to get delayed. You can also save money by taking your flight from your nearby city in case the city you live in is an airline hub and charges higher fares.

Q- What to keep in mind while packing your bags for a flight?

When packing your baggage for flying, avoid putting any valuables like jewellery or cash, medicines, passport, keys or fragile items in the checked baggage. Many airlines don't cover you for any losses or damage so it is better to carry such stuff in a carry bag. Your bags may arrive a little late sometimes so ensure that all your important stuff is with you in your carry bag. Put a tag on the outside of your baggage with your name, address and contact number.

Q- What preparations do you need to make when your child is flying alone?

A child flying alone is a big responsibility and you need to ensure the child's safety well in advance. Don't forget to contact the airline well in advance. Most of the airlines offer an 'unaccompanied minor' service, for which the airlines might charge a substantial fee. Children younger than 5 years of age might not be allowed to fly alone. Older kids might be allowed to take up only nonstop flights.

Q- Can I take my pet along with me? What will I need to do for that?

Most United States airlines allow pets. While some airlines let you choose between taking your pet on the same flight as yours and shipping your pet later as air cargo. You need to have a conversation with your airline to know further details and restrictions about carrying pets. Many airlines may restrict you from carrying your pets along during summers and winters or on very hot and cold days so you always need to have a backup plan for your pet. You need to have a kennel for a carry-on pet that must fit under your seat and the airline will need your pet to remain in its kennel on flight as well as in the airport premises. There is an additional fee for carrying pets. You might need to submit a health certificate from a veterinarian by some airlines.

Q- When should I check in at the airport?

The check-in deadlines for airports can vary by airlines and airports. You can look for them on the airline's website or on your e-ticket confirmation. You need to be at the gate at least 10 to 15 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time for your domestic flight. For international flights this deadline may be 45 minutes or longer. Reach in time so as to have enough time for baggage checking and security check.

Q- What are the important details related to clearing the security check?

You will need more time to clear security than you think. Everyone above 18 years of age must carry a government photo ID card along with them. You will be allowed to carry one carry-on bag plus one personal item like briefcase or purse. The size and weight of allowable carry-on bags can vary among different airlines and you can get this information in your e-ticket confirmation. Do not carry any sharp items like knife, scissors, etc. As per rules by TSA, if you are carrying liquids, aerosols and gels in carry-on luggage, these substances must be stored in containers of less than 3.4 oz. in volume (100 ml). Also, these containers should be properly kept in one clear quart-size plastic bag, allowing just one such bag per passenger.

Q- What to do if the flight is delayed?

If your flight is delayed, find out the projected length of the delay. The airlines will regularly update you on the status of delays of 30 minutes or more. However, sometimes it may be difficult for the airlines to estimate the actual duration of delay due to weather issues or some technical/mechanical problem. If it's the weather, nearly all flights will be late and the airline is often inefficient in doing anything much to prevent the delay when the weather gets troublesome. If there is a mechanical problem, you can try to arrange for another flight by making changes to your reservation with some extra fee. In case you manage to find a flight on some other airline, it is advisable to ask your first airline to endorse your ticket to the new carrier, so that you won't have to pay an increased fare. Every airline has its own set of rules and policies for passengers of delayed flights. You can ask the airlines to pay for your meals or phone calls in case of a delay.

Q- What can be done when a flight gets cancelled?

If your flight is cancelled, most airlines will rebook you on their next flight to your destination at no additional costs. However, this may cause you a significant delay. You can find out if another carrier has seats in a flight to your destination and then ask the first airline to endorse your ticket to that carrier. Many airlines would do that but some may not. You can also choose to cancel your trip in case of longer delays and the airline will refund you for the unused transportation, even for non-refundable tickets. They'll also have to refund any money that you paid for baggage.

Q- What can I claim if my flight is oversold?

If the airline offers travel vouchers to those who are willing to give up their seat, every volunteer must be told about any material restrictions on the use of those vouchers in advance. These restrictions may include administrative fees, advance-ticketing requirements, capacity restrictions, blackout dates, etc. If you get denied of boarding in an over sale situation, the airline needs to provide you a detailed written notice explaining your rights. You can also claim a substantial compensation in the form of a cheque. The airline is free to offer travel vouchers to passengers who are denied boarding.

Q- What does the 'tarmac delay rule' mean?

DOT rules say that an airline cannot keep passengers aboard an aircraft for any more than 3 hours at a United States airport, without an opportunity to deplane. This duration is 4 hours for international flights. This rule applies to both departures and arrivals and to both US and foreign airlines that operate at least one aircraft with 30 or more seats. Other DOT rules include-

  • The airlines must provide food and water at the two-hour point during such a delay
  • They must also provide medical care whenever needed.

However, certain exceptions may be applied for safety, security and air traffic control.

Q- What points should you keep in mind for your connecting airport?

In case you have chosen connecting flights instead of nonstop flight to your destination, there are some points you should keep in mind at your connecting airport. After deplaning from your first flight, don't miss to check the monitor or schedule board at the connecting airport for your connecting flight. Ensure that the gate assignment for your next flight hasn't changed and get to the assigned gate before the gate-arrival deadline. Late arrival may make you lose your seat.

Q- What to do while collecting your checked bag when you reach your destination?

Check your bag tag number or your name tag that you had attached to your baggage. Many bags look alike so you can't claim your bag based on its appearance. It is important to check the name tag to ensure that you have picked up the right baggage. If you find your bag in an open, unlocked or visibly damaged position, check all your belongings to ensure nothing is missing. Report any problems to your airline before you leave the airport. If the airline tells you that your bag would arrive in the next flight, insist on getting a report record issued for the same. Get the agent's name and contact number to follow up.

Q- What if your bag doesn't show up when you are at your destination?

The airline will create a report for your bag and trace it. Most of the delayed bags turn up within a few days, often on the next flight itself. If your bag hasn't reached in time, you are entitled to reasonable compensation for expenses while waiting for your delayed bag such as for the purchase of toiletries. If the bag doesn't turn up within a week or two, the airline will declare it as lost and provide you claim forms. They usually do not pay the full amount of every claim they receive as they devalue your possession and do not pay their original price or the replacement costs. But don't exaggerate your claim since the airlines may completely deny claims if they find your claim fraudulent. Airlines may take some 4 weeks to 3 months time to pay for your claim of lost luggage.

Q- How do you file a complaint if something had gone wrong during your flight?

You first need to contact the airline and find out the mailing address or web address where you can register your complaints with the airline. You can also get this information through the airline's website or on your e-ticket confirmation or upon request. Airlines will respond to written consumer complaints within 60 days. If the airline's response cannot satisfy you, you can file a complaint with DOT.

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