Advice For Air Travelers

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Tom Parsons, president of, travels 150,000 miles a year.

"Think the worst and hope for the best," says Parsons.

He tells that in order to have good trip, you should assume everything possible will go wrong.

Go in with the following expectations:

  • Have a backup system. Go with an airline that has multiple flights to your destination because if there is a problem with your flight your chances are better of getting another.
  • Expect that your carry-on bag will not fit in the compartment.
  • Plan that the flight will be delayed an hour or two.
  • Expect that once you get on the plane that you will wait on the tarmac for 45 minutes. (Why not keep passengers off the plane instead of packing them in like sardines then making them wait?)
  • Plan on getting one soda or less.
He adds that 75 percent of the time everything will be fine, but prepare for the other 25 percent and you won't be disappointed.

He also pointed out that there are more complaints in part because it has become easier to complain, especially with the use of email.

But the root of the problem, he says, is that we are pushing the "hub and spokes" system by adding more and more flights to a system that is already broken.

Ask yourself why an afternoon flight is scheduled to take 30 or 40 minutes longer? The airlines plan for delays, and that is why you have a better chance of avoiding problems if you take morning flights before the "domino effect" has taken place, with morning delays causing afternoon delays.

"We are all frustrated because we believe the commercials," says Parsons. He says airlines should practice "truth in advertising and truth in conditions." In other words, don't lie to passengers; don't say it will be a 30-minute delay when you know it will be two hours.

One problem with the system is that when one company adds more flights, then other airlines want to add flights, too, says Parsons.

He says not to look to Congress to take any action soon to control air traffic. According to Parsons, airlines have a strong lobby and if Congress takes any action to control the amount of air traffic, it won't be until after the November elections.

And Parsons warns that it is only going to get worse as summer approaches and more and more people take to the airways.

By Dorothy Gannon