Here are some things to consider doing. Some items may not be applicable to you.

Well Before Flying:

  • Make reservations from late May to early June, in late August, or, between Thanksgiving and Christmas – to save money

Before making reservations:

  • Check the safety and reliability records of the airlines you’re considering flying on

Determine which airlines:

  • Offer discounts for seats for young children
  • Carry heart defibrillators

When deciding whether to use a travel agent and, if so, which travel agent:

  • Ask the travel agent if they deal with consolidators and if they have a good one they deal with (watch out for consolidators who are not honest and/or reliable) – to save money

When deciding when to fly:

  • Fly as early in the day as feasible – to reduce chances of flight delays

If considering using a charter airline:

  • Be aware that charter airlines tend to be less reliable (more likely than major airlines to be late or cancelled)

When selecting an airline and a type of aircraft:

  • Ensure the aircraft will have adequate medical equipment on board – many U.S. airlines don’t carry adequate first aid equipment on the planes

When selecting specific flights:

  • Avoid flights which originate or stop at airports with poor security – to reduce chances of a terrorist attack
  • Avoid flights which have a short turnaround – to reduce chances of a terrorist attack – reduces time available to ensure security procedures are followed
  • Avoid stops at airports which might experience bad weather, e.g., choose warmer locations – to reduce chances of flight delays
  • Minimize the number of airlines and flights you fly on – to reduce risk of losing luggage

If you can’t find a cheap fare to your desired destination airport:

  • Consider flying to another airport near your desired destination, then driving or riding public transportation to your destination

Paying for your tickets:

  • Use a credit card – makes it much easier to get your money back if there’s a problem with your reservations

When getting your seat assignments:

  • Request seats over the wing or towards the front – for a more comfortable ride
  • Request aisle seats or seats right behind a bulkhead – to get more leg room to help prevent potentially fatal blood clot resulting from sitting in seat for long period
  • Request seats which recline fully – seats at very rear and seats in front of an emergency exit usually don’t recline
  • Request seats which aren’t close to the galley (kitchen) and lavatories (usually in the rear) – for a quieter ride
  • Request a seat near the front – away from the engines – for a quieter ride

After making reservations:

  • Consider obtaining travel insurance which protects you in the event the flights are cancelled or delayed excessively (read the policy very carefully for exclusions, etc.)

If you see the same flight advertised for less than you paid:

  • Ask to be re-ticketed at the lower fare

After getting your ticket(s)/itinerary:

  • Check them carefully to ensure they are for the flight, time and airport you ordered
  • Safeguard the ticket(s) – they are highly pilferable and should be treated as if they were cash
  • Write/type and make copies of your itinerary
  • Provide itinerary to neighbors, friends and/or family
  • Make plans to leave for the airport in plenty of time (anticipate unexpected delays, e.g., traffic, long check-in lines, security checks) – your flight may be overbooked and you could lose your seat if you show up later than approx. 15 minutes before departure time
  • Arrange for transportation to airport, e.g.:
    • Ask someone to drive you
    • Taxi/shuttle
    • Drive your own vehicle (ensure adequate parking available for reasonable price)

If you are not satisfied with your travel arrangements (e.g., flights cancelled):

  • Complain to the airline or charter company

If you’re still not satisfied:

  • Call the Department of Transportation: (202) 366-2220

Day Before Flying:

  • Check the weather forecast for the origination, intermediate and destination airports for your flight

If weather is not forecast to be good for flying:

  • Change your reservations
  • Plan to wear loose clothing (e.g., no girdle-type articles, tight elastic) for the flight(s) – to help prevent potentially-fatal blood clot from sitting in seat for long period
  • Pack (see Packing)
  • Place your name, addresses (home and/or destination), phone numbers (home and/or destination) and itinerary inside your luggage
  • Lock your luggage
  • Take (swallow) an aspirin – to help prevent potentially fatal blood clot from sitting in seat for long period

Once you’ve packed your bags:

  • Don’t let any strangers have access to your bags – a terrorist could place a bomb in your bags

Shortly Before Flying

  • Avoid drinking alcohol or carbonated beverages, and, avoid drinks with caffeine (can cause dehydration), until after the flight(s) – to help prevent potentially-fatal blood clot from sitting in seat for long period
  • Drink lots of water and/or fruit juices – to help prevent potentially-fatal blood clot resulting from sitting in seat for long period

Upon Arrival at the Airport:

  • Don’t accept anything from a stranger to carry onto the airplane – a terrorist could have placed a bomb, etc. in the item
  • Request a seat next to an empty seat (avoid the seats directly in front of emergency exit rows – the seat backs usually do not recline fully)

If you would like more legroom and are physically able to open the emergency exit:

  • Ask for a seat in an emergency exit row

If you are bumped because the airline oversold the flight:

  • Understand what you are entitled to – in most cases, approx. $400 in denied boarding compensation plus a seat on the next available flight
  • Consider negotiating for more than just what you are entitled to


  • Avoid putting a lot of stuff under the seat in front of you – so you will have room to move your feet and keep blood circulating in your legs to avoid possible blood clot
  • Take off your shoes – to help avoid blood clots

If you have children with you:

  • Consider giving them a small dose of an antihistamine to help them sleep during the flight – it’s probably best for them to be awake for the landing – so they will notice ear discomfort during descent and can drink from a bottle, cry, chew, etc. to relieve the discomfort


  • Spend as much of the flight as feasible in your seat with your seat belt securely fastened – sudden turbulence can cause serious injury
  • Get out of seat and walk around occasionally (but be prepared for turbulence) – to help prevent potentially fatal blood clot from sitting in seat for long period


  • Move and flex your ankles and toes – to help avoid blood clots

At least every hour:

  • Get up, walk around and stretch – to help avoid blood clots

If you lose feeling in a leg:

  • Be aware that you might have a blood clot in your leg which could travel to your lung, heart, etc. – people with heart disease, cancer and/or varicose veins, and, smokers are especially at risk of developing a blood clot

Before Descent:

  • Be prepared to chew gum, yawn, etc. to relieve ear discomfort

If you’re travelling with an infant:

  • Give him/her a bottle to suck on – to help relieve ear discomfort


Thanks for reading!