♬ It’s the most frustrating time of the year — to fly♪

The flying experience is worse than it was five years ago, and the worst time of the year to fly is now, according to a new survey.

But you probably didn’t need a survey to tell you that. And yet, here we are with a new Morning Consult research, commissioned by the U.S. Travel Association, a trade association that almost never says a bad word about airlines.

Merry Christmas, indeed. Read more “♬ It’s the most frustrating time of the year — to fly♪”

I fainted at the airport, and then I lost my vacation

When Beth Langston faints at the airport and is taken to the hospital, her nonrefundable trip to London is the first casualty. Is her refund DOA? Read more “I fainted at the airport, and then I lost my vacation”

Boarding area no-nos: Bad behavior before takeoff

It’s the complainers that make travelers such as Randall Kessler complain — specifically, the folks who shuffle around the airport waiting area, griping about something over which neither they nor their airline has any control.
Read more “Boarding area no-nos: Bad behavior before takeoff”

How early should you really arrive for your flight? Let’s settle this question once and for all

Want to start an argument? Tell your travel companion you won’t be arriving two hours before your flight. Read more “How early should you really arrive for your flight? Let’s settle this question once and for all”

Here’s why you should always, always, always read your car rental confirmation

I wish I could help David Campbell. He says he has a “sticky” situation with Avis which “may be unresolvable.” And I think he’s right.
Read more “Here’s why you should always, always, always read your car rental confirmation”

Locked out of the parking lot at Newark – can I get a refund?

Cynthia Farmer/Shutterstock
Cynthia Farmer/Shutterstock
No one ever complains about airport parking lots because these businesses typically say what they do and do what they say. In other words, it’s a place to park.

So when someone does call me about a parking problem, I pay attention. Which is exactly what I did when I heard from Peter Gildenhuys, who recently parked his vehicle at an off-airport parking lot in Newark.

Getting it to the parking lot wasn’t a problem. Getting it off the lot? Problem.
Read more “Locked out of the parking lot at Newark – can I get a refund?”

Hey United, there are two Charlestons — learn to tell ’em apart

charlestonDon’t get your Charlestons confused. United Airlines did, and look at where it got Mo Shah and his family.

I’m not sure if his problem, which involves a series of unfortunate events at the airport leading to an abbreviated anniversary celebration, is fixable. But there’s plenty to learn for those of us watching from the sidelines. (And who knows, maybe the airline will do the right thing?)

If nothing else, Shah’s case shows the need to be very specific when you’re dealing with air travel arrangements. Otherwise you could end up missing your plane. Or flying to the wrong continent.
Read more “Hey United, there are two Charlestons — learn to tell ’em apart”

Is my 15-year-old son a terrorist?

Yganko/Shutterstock
Yganko/Shutterstock
It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. You arrive at the airport to fly home from your family vacation, and something goes wrong — terribly wrong — at the TSA screening area.

It happened to Susan Bruce recently when she flew from Phoenix to Dallas with her husband, teenage son and daughter.

“When we got to security, my son went first in line through the X-ray machine and TSA flagged him for the hand swab test,” she remembers. “While the rest of the family was stuck on the other side of the X-ray machine, my son was pulled aside for supposedly having a positive result for explosives.”

Bruce, who lives in Dallas and is a mathematician by training and a homemaker, is certain it was a misunderstanding. Her son is no terrorist, she says. He’s a clean-cut honor student.
Read more “Is my 15-year-old son a terrorist?”

The five kinds of people you meet at an airport screening area

Brian Jackson/Shutterstock
Brian Jackson/Shutterstock

Next time you fly, take a minute to look around at the airport screening area. You’ll see all kinds of interesting passengers, from the “get-alongs” to the dissidents to the folks who think the rules don’t apply to them.

Just last week at the crowded Orlando airport, I had a front-row ticket to a confrontation between a young woman and a TSA screener.

Young woman: “I don’t want to be X-rayed.”

Screener: “We don’t use X-rays.”

Young woman: “I don’t want to be scanned, either.”

Screener: “Then you’ll get a pat-down.”
Read more “The five kinds of people you meet at an airport screening area”

Why it’s time for airport screening to come full circle

hyxdil/Shutterstock
hyxdil/Shutterstock
Andy deLivron says he’s no threat to aviation security. But he flies with box cutters in his checked luggage — the same weapon used by the 9/11 terrorists. And he recently packed the sharp tools in the wrong suitcase.

By the time deLivron, a sales manager from Pottersville, NY, realized the box cutters had been misplaced in his carry-on bag, it was too late. He was already past the TSA screening area at Dallas Love Field and boarding his flight to Orlando, where he planned to catch a connecting flight to Albany, NY.

DeLivron missed his connection and had to spend the night in Orlando.

“But now I had a problem toss the knife or try to get it home in my carry-on bag,” he says. “I decided if I could place the knife on edge in my carryon it would be highly likely that security would miss it again. Sure, enough I was right. My carryon went right on through in Orlando.”
Read more “Why it’s time for airport screening to come full circle”