The New York Times has published a “holiday travel checklist” that will help ensure you’re prepared for the worst as you head to the airport.  Here’s the Cliffs Notes:clipboard

1. Map out Plan B. Figure out your next best flight options in case your plane is delayed or canceled.

2. Load up your cellphone with emergency numbers, including the airline reservation line or the number for the frequent flier representative if you are a member.

3. Add the numbers of some major hotel chains, like Starwood or Marriott, with airport locations – just in case you get stuck.

4. Set up a flight alert for yourself and anyone who may need to know your whereabouts – like those who are picking you up at the airport.  Most airlines offer alerts that let passengers know if a gate or flight time has changed via e-mail or text message.

5. Pack smart. If you can limit your luggage to a carry-on, you can avoid the scrum at baggage claim and easily move between flights if your itinerary is wrecked by delays.  If you must check luggage, you can save $5 on baggage fees with most airlines by prepaying online.

6. Know your rights. This is critical during busy travel periods when flights are often overbooked and confusion reigns. Travelers can receive up to $400 if they are involuntarily bumped and rebooked on another flight within 2 hours after their original domestic flight time and within 4 hours for international flights. They are eligible for up to $800 in cash if they are not rerouted by then.

7. Check in ahead of time online.

8. Reserve a parking spot at off-airport lots and avoid the holiday parking crush.

9. Know your airport.  If your flight is delayed, you may end up spending a lot of time there.  Does it have Wi-fi?  And more importantly, where’s the bar?

10. Be polite.  It’s the holidays for crying out loud.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Now that Continental Airlines is part of the Star Alliance, there are more ways than ever for Continental frequent fliers to “earn and burn” miles.  That’s because Continental now has 25 airline partners — up from 10 in the SkyTeam alliance it left in October.  Continental’s OnePass frequent fliers are able to rack up mileage points on all those new partners, as well as cash in mileage points for tickets on them.  Read on…
  • Southwest Airlines today announced that it will add 65 roundtrip flights and eliminate 24 roundtrip flights for a net gain of 41 roundtrip flights.  The schedule reflects seasonal travel patterns. The schedule includes fares and flight information for previously announced service to Southwest’s newest market, Panama City Beach, Fla., starting May 23. It also includes previously announced service of seven daily flights to and from Denver. Southwest has added two additional daily flights to the previously announced service, for a total of nine new flights to and from Denver beginning May 9.
  • The Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports that airline fees topped $2 billion in the third quarter, up 36% from the same period of 2008.  Baggage fees carried the load.  Delta led the pack in baggage, collecting $129.5 million in the third quarter.  Last year, Delta offered to carry one checked bag for free but charged $50 to check a second bag.  But in November 2008 the airline switched to the same structure as Northwest and others: $15 for the first bag each way, and $25 for the second bag.  Since then, the fees have been raised $5 unless you pre-pay online.