this Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012, file photo,
travelers at Chicago's O'Hare International
Airport wait for ground transportation upon
their arrival. During the 12-day Thanksgiving
travel period in 2013, 25.1 million people are
projected to fly, an increase of 1.5 percent
from last year, according to Airlines for
America, the industrys trade and lobbying
YORK There's not much good news for fliers this
Thanksgiving. Airports will be packed, planes will
have few if any empty seats and you might sit
apart from a loved one, unless you pay extra.
the 12-day Thanksgiving travel period, 25.1 million
people are projected to fly, an increase of 1.5
percent from last year, according to Airlines for
America, the industry's trade and lobbying group.
would make this the busiest year since 2007, when an
estimated 26 million people flew over the holiday
busiest travel day will be Sunday, Dec. 1, with an
estimated 2.56 million passengers, followed by
Wednesday, Nov. 27, with 2.42 million passengers. In
case you were wondering, the slowest travel day is
Thanksgiving itself, with just 1.44 million people
expected to fly.
don't fret, there are some things you can do in
some cases paying a little extra to make your trip
more pleasant, or to at least buffer the damage if
something goes wrong.
If you miss your connection or bad weather causes
delays the airlines will automatically rebook you
on the next available flight. However, with flights at
near capacity, the next open seat could be several
Don't like the flight you're rebooked on? Get in line
to speak to a customer service representative. But
also, call the airline directly. If the phone lines
are jammed, try the airline's overseas numbers. You'll
pay long-distance rates, but might not have to wait.
Finally, consider sending a Tweet.
Consider buying a one-day pass to the airline lounge.
For one thing, there are usually free drinks and light
snacks. But the real secret to the lounges is that the
airline staffs them with some of its best and
friendliest ticket agents. The lines are shorter
and these agents are magically able to find empty
seats. One-day passes typically cost $50.
If you and your loved ones don't have seats together
already, and don't want to pay an extra $9 to $99
domestically for a "premium" coach seat,
it's very likely that you will sit apart.
Set up alerts for seat openings. ExpertFlyer.com
offers free notifications when a window or aisle seat
becomes vacant. For 99 cents, it sends an email if
adjacent seats become available.
Check the airline's website five days before the trip.
That's when some elite fliers are upgraded to first
class, freeing up their coach seats. Another wave of
upgrades occurs every 24 to 48 hours.
Check in 24 hours in advance, when airlines start
releasing more seats. If connecting, check for open
seats 24 hours before the second flight departs.
Keep looking. Even after checking in, seats can be
changed at airport kiosks and on some airlines' mobile
Weigh a bag at home first. Anything over 50 pounds (40
pounds on some airlines like Spirit) will generate a
hefty overweight surcharge typically $100 in
addition to the typical $25 checked bag fee.
Before your bag disappears behind the ticket counter
make sure the airline's tag has your name, flight
number and final destination. As a precaution, place a
copy of your flight itinerary inside your suitcase
with your cellphone number and the name of your hotel.
If you can't live without it, don't check it. A lost
bag can take days to recover. Don't pack medication or
outfits for tomorrow's meeting or wedding in the bag
you're checking. The same with jewelry or electronics.
You could be asked to check your carry-on bag, given
today's crowded overhead bins. Pack a small canvas bag
inside the carry-on. Use that to hold onto your
valuables if you have to check the carry-on.