Lowell Valencia-Miller is a teaching assistant professor in the Department of Management at the Daniels College of Business. He has taught at the University of Denver since 2016. Valencia-Miller spent over 30 years in business in a variety of leadership positions at numerous companies in various industries. His most notable entrepreneurial endeavor was helping get Frontier Airlines flying in July of 1994.
The holidays are times when we should be happiest, but because air travel has become increasingly commoditized with more people, more seats and less room, flying during this time of year can be unappealing and stressful. By taking a few extra steps, you can make your holiday travel much less daunting.
1. Booking Flights
The commoditization of and intense rivalry in the airline industry has resulted in new, low-price fare options that attract unsuspecting travelers. But make sure you know what is included in the price of your ticket as not all airline fares are treated equally. If you don’t have time to do a full cost-benefit analysis, focus on your priorities. Is a free checked bag important to you or do you intend to only carry on a bag? There also may be a fee for that carry-on bag. Is getting that aisle or window seat important to you? If so, you might have to pay extra to select a seat versus receiving a random seat on the day of departure. Hungry? Some airlines are bringing back a small selection of free food items on domestic flights. Others are still charging for snacks. When in doubt, buy something at the airport and bring it with you on your flight.
If available, sign up for the airline’s flight information to be sent to you via text message. This will ensure that the latest information is pushed to you versus having to check online.
Most airlines allow you to check in 24 hours before your departure. By checking in the day before, you are alerting the airline that you intend to fly. If the flight is oversold, you might be prompted to volunteer your seat in exchange for cash or travel credit. The extra 24 hours may allow you to change your itinerary and take advantage of the cash or credit.
If you have packed a few extra presents in your luggage, make sure you know the airline’s baggage weight limit. If you don’t have a baggage scale, you can use an ordinary bathroom scale. Weigh yourself without the luggage then weigh yourself with the luggage. Subtract the two and the result is the weight of the luggage.
Finally, airlines have removed a great deal of the onboard entertainment systems due to weight. Your best option is to bring your tablet or smartphone. Most airlines now have onboard Wi-Fi (sometimes free through their frequent flyer programs) that will allow you to view online content. Bottom line: know what you are buying as airlines are constantly changing their fares in order to remain competitive.
Taking these steps in advance of your travel will allow you to focus on the true meaning of the holiday season. I wish you safe travels!