Some Iowa travelers may find it a challenge to remain thankful today, as busy airports and overbooked flights threaten to ruin family holiday plans. Triple-A-Iowa spokeswoman Rose White says Thanksgiving Day is one of the most hectic travel days of the year, especially for air travelers. She says to expect delays due to weather, equipment troubles and other complications. White has a few tips:
"Go on-line before you leave home," White says, "check the airline website for delays before leaving home and sign up for e-mail alerts from your airline. Take advantage of time-saving services like printing out your boarding pass at home from the airline’s website and using curbside check-in and ticket kiosks can save time when you are in hurry to get to your flight." She also suggests eating before you go to the airport so you’re not waiting in line at the limited number of airport eateries.
Also, bring food you can carry on and eat on the plane if you’re stuck on the tarmac. White says: "Use your cell phone to save time. Program numbers for your airline, hotel, car rental agency or your travel agent into your cell phone. In case you need to change your flight, you can call the airline directly rather than waiting in line at the airport." Like many things in life, White says it pays to plan for the worst while hoping for the best, especially when air travel’s involved.
"Take the earliest flight, if you haven’t already booked your flight. Flight delays often ripple through the system, from the East Coast to the West Coast, so the first flight in the morning is less likely to be delayed," she says, "if the first flight is delayed, you will have a better chance of catching a flight scheduled later that same day."
She recommends Iowans pack defensively in case they end up stuck somewhere they don’t want to be. White says: "Flight delays are a fact of life for travelers. Come to the airport prepared for a delayed flight. That means bringing portable entertainment such as books, music or video games, especially if you’re traveling with children. In addition, make sure you have prescriptions, credit cards, your travel itinerary with flight numbers, driver’s license and/or passport, glasses, various electronics chargers and toiletries in a carry-on bag."
If you do get stuck, White says to remember to ask about amenities. During extended flight delays, airlines have the discretion to provide food and hotel vouchers, phone cards and snack boxes. To speed through security, she says to remember the Transportation Security Administration’s 3-1-1 carry-on policy: three-ounce bottles or less; one quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; one bag per passenger.