By Kim Stearns, Rogue Valley International — Medford Airport
As I sit here, the leaves blowing by my window are a definite sign that the holiday travel season will soon be upon us!
The Rogue Valley International – Medford Airport’s pattern of breaking record after record over the past 24 months looks like it will continue through the end of 2016. In addition to increased numbers at our airport, airports across the nation are witnessing growth in passenger travel.
However, even though passenger numbers continue to tick up, the seat capacity for air carriers is trending down. The results are higher load factors on airplanes.
So, how does this affect you?
Check in early
Make sure you get checked in early – twenty-four hours in advance for domestic flights. With the ease of the internet and, even more so, mobile apps, you want the airline to know not only have you bought your ticket, but you will be present for that flight. Reserving your seat when you purchase your ticket will indicate where you want to sit. Aisle and window seats are the most popular. Individuals who wait until the last minute to get to the airport and check-in at the ticket counter will end up with the leftover seats, and could miss their flight even though they’ve got their ticket in hand. It’s no secret that airlines oversell seats, and, with higher load factors, there aren’t many seats to spare.
Bottom line, check-in early.
Firearms continue to be an issue at checkpoints. Last week alone, the Transportation Safety Administration reported 71 firearms surrendered at checkpoints across the nation. So, please, before you even begin to pack, go through your bag and double check that you don’t have a firearm, ammunition, or a knife buried deep in an inner pocket.
In regards to carry-on bags, dimensions are changing, and they’re not consistent among airlines. If you’ve booked on multiple carriers, be sure to check with each one to determine the carry-on size and go with the smallest one. What may be accepted on one carrier may not be valid at the next. End result, you’ll have to pay to check the bag.
Confirm your flight
Purchasing tickets on a third-party website can sometimes save you money. But it can sometimes cost you at the ticket counter. How can that be, you may ask? Third-party vendors may not always get your information correctly relayed to the primary air carrier or information may be missing. Take some time after purchasing your ticket to call the airline directly. Let them know you want to ensure your information is correct and updated. Ask for their confirmation number. That way, if there are changes to your reservation, you’ll get notified.
And finally, get to the airport early! I cannot stress this enough. At a minimum, you should arrive 90 minutes prior to your flight; two hours is even better. This is especially true for early morning departures. Spending a few extra minutes sitting in the boarding room waiting for your flight to take off is far more relaxing than waiting in line at the ticket counter, behind a family of five, while they’re shifting items from bag to bag in an effort to minimize the weight.
Trust me, I’ve seen this happen.
Travelling can be nerve wracking even for seasoned travelers. Make it easy on yourself. While you sit back in the boarding area watching the sun rise, you can take a deep breath, knowing you’ve made your flight.
Safe travels everyone!