Posted by: Five Star Travel & Cruises | November 15, 2011

Thanksgiving Travel Survival Guide

Here is a great article for those of you traveling for thanksgiving. Its all about tips to help you along your way. Bing travel reporting.
Planning to fly somewhere for Thanksgiving? You’ll be in good company. The Air Transport Association of America predicts that about 23.2 million air travelers will take to the skies between Nov. 18 and Nov. 29. (Thanksgiving Day is Nov. 24.)
 
While this represents a 2 percent drop from last year, airlines have reduced capacity since then. That means one thing for fliers: full flights. Airplanes will be especially cramped on the Sunday and Monday after Thanksgiving, Nov. 27 and 28, according to the ATA.
 
If you’re planning to take a train instead, you will also be rubbing elbows with mankind. Amtrak saw record ridership last year, with more than 700,000 passengers during Thanksgiving week. The rail service is preparing for its busiest travel period of the year with extra trains and rail cars added to the Northeast Corridor, the Chicago hub, the Pacific Northwest and California.
 
Tips for air travelers
 
If you haven’t purchased your Thanksgiving travel airfare yet, here are some last-minute tips: 1. Avoid traveling on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after, which are the most expensive days to travel. For the lowest pricing, try to fly out early on Thanksgiving Day and return the Saturday after the holiday.  Bing Travel has a round-trip fare from New York to Los Angeles for $369 if you fly early on Thanksgiving Day and return the following day.  You can also fly round-trip from Seattle to Phoenix for $288following that timetable. 2. You could save yourself the headache and just drive. Check out the Bing Travel blog post Fly or Drive: Which Costs More? 3. Consider flying into an alternative airport that can offer cheaper fares. For example, consider Oakland, Calif., instead of San Francisco, or Fort Lauderdale instead of Miami. These are hubs for low-cost carriers such as JetBlueand Southwest, and this can translate into hundreds of dollars in savings.Already purchased tickets? 4. Beware America’s busiest airports. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the busiest in the nation; Chicago-O’Hare International Airport is No. 2; and Los Angeles International Airport is No. 3. Check Bing Travel’s slide show on America’s Busiest Airportsto get advice from frequent traveler Harriet Baskas on how to survive delays at 13 airports. 5.Check your airline’s website for recommendations on how early to get to the airport. American Airlines, for example, recommends that you check in 90 minutes prior to departure when checking baggage on a domestic flight and one hour prior to departure when not checking baggage. For international flights, departures to Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands, it recommends you arrive at the airport two hours prior to departure. 6. Check your flight status ahead of time. Download a free application such as “Flight Status,” “Trip Tracker — Live Flight Status Tracker” or “FlightView Free.”

7. Double-check the Transportation Security Administration’s 3-1-1 rulesfor carry-on luggage. 8. Traveling with food or gifts for Thanksgiving? Familiarize yourself with what’s permissible on this TSA page. Do not wrap gifts you’re taking on the plane. Security officers may have to unwrap gifts if they need to take a closer look. 9. Check the weather before you go. “Winter storms bringing snow, sleet and ice often ground holiday travelers at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport,” Baskas writes. 10. Get familiar with the airport. Locate coffee, food and kids’ areas before you go. Go to Bing Maps, type in the airport (by name, city or code) and zoom in on the airport to see a detailed map. 11. More than 2 million of the roughly 700 million suitcases checked on U.S. airlines last year didn’t arrive with their owners. Most of them were returned to their owners within 24 hours, but do you really want to spend your precious Thanksgiving holiday locating your luggage? Pack light and bring it all in a carry-on. Watch a two-minute video on how to pack light. Tips for drivers 12. Watch a two-minute video on how using smartphone apps and planning will help make your road trip hassle-free. 13. Save money on gas with a free smartphone app such as GasBuddy. 14. Buy a GPS. Compare models on Bing Shopping.

Tips for train travelers

Amtrak reports that the two busiest travel days are expected to be the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Nov. 23, and the Sunday after, Nov. 27.

15. Start with the free smartphone app “Amtrak.”

16. Amtrak advises customers to purchase tickets now to avoid the rush. You can purchase them online on the Amtrak website. Arrive at the station at least 30 minutes before your train is scheduled to depart. Auto train passengers should arrive at the station at least two hours prior to departure. (What’s the auto train?)

17. You can bring two carry-on bags per person on Amtrak trains. Passengers should make sure luggage is tagged with a name and address. Not all trains and stations offer checked baggage services, but those that do allow you to check three pieces of luggage free of charge.

18. Passengers should carry a valid photo ID at all times; it may be requested aboard trains.

19. Amtrak has some pretty cool amenities. Sleeping accommodations are available on most long-distance routes, and many trains have one or more options for onboard dining. It also offers Wi-Fi service in select stations and trains throughout the country. Read the list.

By Robin Dalmas, Bing Travel
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