RESERVATION AND TICKETING TIPS
Once your next business trip is planned out, you know exactly where you are going and which airline you want to use, getting reservations and tickets is a fairly simple process. You can make all of your arrangements by telephone, at the airline's ticket office, or through a travel agent or other ticket outlet. There are a few potential pitfalls, however, and these pointers should help you avoid them.
* If your travel plans fall into a busy period, call for reservations early.
Flights for holidays may sell out weeks - sometimes months - ahead of time.
* Don't buy a standby fare or an 'open return' ticket if you need to fly
during a high-demand period, especially the end of August. You could be
stranded for a week or more before a seat becomes available.
* Ask the reservations agent to give you the on-time performance code for any
flights that you are considering. This is a one-digit code in the
reservations computer that shows how often that arrived on time (within 15
minutes) during the most recent reported month. For example, an "8" means
that flight arrived within 15 minutes of the scheduled arrival time between
80% and 89.9% of the time. If you are deciding between two flights with
similar schedules and fares, you may want to choose the one with the better
on-time record. (Only the largest U.S. airlines are required to maintain
* When you make a reservation, be sure the agent records the information
accurately. Before you hang up or leave the ticket office, review all of the
essential information with the agent - the spelling of your name, the flight
numbers and travel dates, and the cities you are traveling between. If there
is more than one airport at either city, be sure you check which one you'll
be using. It's also important to give the airline your home and work
telephone numbers so they can let you know if there is any change in their
* Your ticket will show the flight number, departure time, date, and status of
your reservation for each flight of your itinerary. The "status" box is
important. "OK" means you're confirmed. Anything else means that the
reservation is not yet certain (e.g., waitlisted).
* A "direct" (or "through") flight can have one or more stops. Sometimes
flights with only one flight number can even involve a change of planes. Ask
about your exact routing.
* If you are flying to a small city and your flight number has four digits,
you may be booked on a commuter airline that has an agreement with the major
carrier in whose name the flight is held out. If you are unsure, ask the
reservations agent about the airline and the aircraft type; these flights
are identified in the computer.
* When a reservations agent asks you to buy your tickets by a specific time or
date, this is a deadline. And if you don't make a deadline, the airline may
cancel your reservations without telling you.
* Try to have your tickets in hand before you go to the airport. This speeds
your check-in and helps you avoid some of the tension you might otherwise
feel if you had to wait in a slow-moving ticketing line and worry about
missing your flight.
* If your reservations are booked far enough ahead of time, the airline may
offer to mail your tickets to you. However, if you don't receive the tickets
and the airline's records show that they mailed them, you may have to go
through cumbersome lost-ticket procedures. It is safer to check the
telephone directory for a conveniently located travel agency or airline
ticket office and buy your tickets there.
* As soon as you receive your ticket, check to make sure all the information
on it is correct, especially the airports (if any of the cities have more
than one) and the flight dates. Have any necessary corrections made
* Bring a photo I.D. when you fly, and have your airline ticket issued using
your name as it appears on that I.D. Many airlines are requesting such
identification at check-in in order to reduce the re-selling of discount
tickets. (Airlines don't permit tickets to be sold or given to other
persons.) On international flights, make sure your name is the same on your
ticket and your passport. If your name has recently changed and the name on
your ticket and your I.D. are different, bring documentation of the change
(e.g., a marriage certificate or court order).
* It's a good idea to reconfirm your reservations before you start your trip;
flight schedules sometimes change. On international trips, most airlines
require that you reconfirm your onward or return reservations at least 72
hours before each flight. If you don't, your reservations may be canceled.
Check your ticket as you board each flight to ensure that only the correct
coupon has been removed by the airline agent.
Information provided by the U. S. Department of Transportation.
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