City Proximity (Hubs)
Sometimes you will not be able to make it back to your actual destination city (i.e. due to no availability on those flights). In this case, it is important to think about the closest cities to your final destination. If need be, the airlines could reroute you to these destinations in times of weather delays and cancellations.
These destinations are from the city centers and are measured in air miles.
United Airlines Main Hub and Headquarters
American Airline Hub
Southwest Midway Hub
|City Code||Airport||Miles from Chicago|
|SBN||SOUTH BEND, IN||70|
United Airlines-Newark Hub
Delta, American, Jet Blue-JFK Hub
|City Code||Airport||Miles from New York|
|LGA||NEW YORK CITY LAGUARDIA,NY||8|
|EWR||NEWARK AIRPORT, NJ||9|
|JFK||J F KENNEDY, NY||13|
|HPN||WHITE PLAINS, NY||29|
|ISP||LONG ISLAND MACARTHUR, NY||48|
Jet Blue Hub
|City Code||Airport||Miles from Boston|
|MVY||MARTHAS VINEYRD, MA||70|
|NYC||NEW YORK, NY||188|
US Airways/American Airlines Hub
|City Code||Airport||Miles from Philadelphia|
|PHL||PHILADELPHIA , PA||7|
|ACY||ATLANTIC CTY, NJ||46|
|ABE||ALLENTOWN BETHLEHEM, PA||50|
|EWR||NEWARK AIRPORT, NJ||73|
|JFK||J F KENNEDY, NY||87|
United Airlines Hub IAD Dulles
|City Code||Airport||Miles from Washington DC|
|City Code||Airport||Miles from Atlanta|
|GSP||GREENVILLE SPARTANBURG, SC||147|
American Airlines Hub
|City Code||Airport||Miles from Miami|
|FLL||FORT LAUDERDALE, FL||21|
|PBI||WEST PALM BEACH P BEACH, FL||63|
|RSW||FORT MYERS, FL||110|
|EYW||KEY WEST AIRPORT, FL||129|
US Airways/American Airlines Hub
|City Code||Airport||Miles from Charlotte|
|GSO||GREENSBORO HIGH POINT, NC||79|
|GSP||GREENVILLE SPARTANBURG, SC||81|
American Airlines Hub-Dallas Fort Worth
Southwest-Dallas Love Field
|City Code||Airport||Miles from Dallas|
|DAL||LOVE FIELD, TX||5|
|DFW||DALLAS FT WORTH, TX||16|
|GGG||LONGVIEW KILGORE, TX||125|
|SPS||WICHITA FALLS, TX||128|
|CLL BR||COLLEGE STATION, TX||153|
|LAW||LAWTON FT SILL, OK||154|
|City Code||Airport||Miles from Memphis|
|LIT||LITTLE ROCK, AR||127|
|CGI||CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO||146|
|City Code||Airport||Miles from Detroit|
|ARB||ANN ARBOR, MI||36|
|City Code||Airport||Miles from Minneapolis|
|MSP||MINNEAPOLIS ST PAUL, MN||34|
|STC||SAINT CLOUD, MN||55|
|EAU||EAU CLAIRE, WI||88|
|LSE||LA CROSSE, WI||125|
United Airlines Hub
Frontier Airlines Hub
|City Code||Airport||Miles from Denver|
|DEN||DENVER INTL, CO||19|
|COS||COLORADO SPRINGS, CO||66|
US Airways/American Airlines Hub
|City Code||Airport||Miles from Phoenix|
|PHX||PHOENIX SKY HARBOR,AZ||20|
|City Code||Airport||Miles from Los Angeles|
|LAX||LOS ANGELES, CA||12|
|LGB||LONG BEACH, CA||17|
|SNA||ORANGE COUNTY SNTA ANA, CA||34|
|ONT INTL||ONTARIO, CA||37|
|SBA||SANTA BARBARA, CA||95|
|PSP||PALM SPRINGS, CA||101|
United Airlines Hub
|City Code||Airport||Miles from San Francisco|
|SFO||SAN FRANCISCO, CA||11|
|SJC||SAN JOSE, CA||39|
Alaskan Airlines Hub
|City Code||Airport||Miles from Seattle|
|SEA||SEATTLE , WA||11|
- Put a name tag on every piece of luggage. The complimentary paper bag tags available from the airline are flimsy and can tear off, making it much harder for airline personnel to figure out where your bag needs to go.
- Check the baggage weight limits and pieces of luggage prior to arriving to the airport.
- As of right now, Southwest is the only carrier not to charge on baggage domestically but that could be changing in 2015.
- Beware of airlines that may charge extra fees for carry-on luggage and other ancillary charges that are normally included (i.e. Spirit)
- Weigh your bags prior to arriving to the airport. There is nothing worse than someone opening their bags and repacking while slowing up the check in line – don’t be that person.
- If your bag is not at baggage claim, ask the baggage personnel to find out the location of your bag. Take advantage of tracking your baggage online. Some examples are below.
- Be mindful of Codeshare flights. For example: American, British, Iberia can all sell the same flight with different flight numbers. Be sure you are aware of the carrier that is actually operating the flight.
- Be careful when booking flights that are direct but not nonstop. The airlines call them “thru flights”. It’s not uncommon for an airline to sell a flight from one city to another and advertise it as a direct flight. However, in actuality the flight stops at a city along the way to pick up and drop off passengers. An example would be a flight from Los Angeles to Boston that stops in Chicago for a period of time and then continues to Boston. The same aircraft is used throughout the journey.
- Using 3rd party booking systems such as Orbitz or Expedia are a good way to check schedules for multiple airlines but they will charge a fee to book flights. It is always a good idea to book directly with the airline.
- You will notice that there are times when other carriers can revalidate or put you on other airlines when your flights cancel. Most carriers have agreements with other carriers and allow them to put you on competitor airlines if there is no room on their particular airline. Example, if a United Airlines flight cancels they can put you on an American flight and vice versa. However, Southwest and Spirit do not have ticketing agreements with other airlines. If they cancel their flights, you will have to be re-accommodated on one of their flights or they will refund/credit your money.
- If you need to cancel you flight prior to traveling, call the airline or your travel arranger. If the ticket is refundable, the airlines will refund it. If it is nonrefundable, you will have one year from date of being issued or purchased to use the credit or value of your ticket. However, there will be a charge to use this credit at a later date. In general, it is $200 to use that credit. Some airlines are lower than $200 but $200 is the going rate to change your flight or use your credit later for a nonrefundable flight. Southwest does not have a change fee policy. For Southwest, you will just pay the difference in fare if applicable. International change fees on nonrefundable tickets in general are higher than $200 so be sure of your travel dates if you purchase nonrefundable tickets.
- As a general rule, if the ticket value is less than the change fee amount, then just throw the ticket away if you are not going to use it. The airlines commonly refer to those tickets as “throwaway tickets”. For example I purchased a round trip ticket from Chicago to Minneapolis for $160. If I want to change those flights prior to the departure dates and the amount to change the flight is $200, I would just throw away the first ticket of $160 and purchase a new ticket.
- If you want to avoid the change fee of $200 plus, you can change your flight within 24 hours of your departure for a smaller amount of $50-100. They call it a same day change. The only issue is you have to wait 24 hours prior to departure and the availability might not be there for you to change your flight. The airlines will not be able to sell you a same day confirmed change if the flight is sold out. Check your particular airlines for details-most have this particular pricing with the exception of Southwest and in that case you will pay the difference in fare.
- Everyone wants to know when is the best time to purchase a ticket. Unfortunately there isn’t a consistent answer, but I can tell you when NOT to purchase a ticket: within 7 days of travel. Typically this is when they are the most expensive.
- Ever notice when you check in at the kiosk, the only seats remaining are middle seats by the rear bathroom? Most airlines will block seats for their high status travelers. As a result, travelers without seats will have fewer options to choose from. It would be a good idea to pick your seat when booking your ticket (rather than waiting until you check in at the airport) – even if it is less desirable. You also have the option to purchase a premium or extra legroom seat when you book.
- Be mindful of premium versus extra legroom seats. Premium seats do not necessarily mean extra legroom.
- Always carry your phone charger and make sure to keep your phone charged.
- Be mindful of gate changes as they happen often. Check the flight boards; don’t just keep referring back to the gate listed on your boarding pass.
- Be aware of check in times with or without baggage. See the section entitled “WHATEVER THAT SECTION IS GOING TO BE CALLED J”
- Here is the website for prohibited items for the security line: http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/prohibited-items
- Most airlines have a 15 minute rule, meaning if you are not at the gate and boarding 15 minutes before flight departure time, the airlines can/will drop/give away your seat to another passenger. It is important to be prompt at the gate.
- Leave enough time to get from the domestic terminals to the international terminal. In many cases, they are separate buildings. Some airlines provide shuttles to the international terminal to their alliance partners. British Airways in Chicago will provide bus service from gate (Terminal 3) K19 to the international terminal. Also in Chicago, Qatar Airlines provides bus service from G17 (terminal 3) to their flight on at the International terminal as well.
- If your flight is canceled, most airlines have automated systems to rebook you and sometimes this means on the next flight but sometimes it does not. If you are not happy with the automated flight booking, see an agent at the airport or contact your travel arranger.
- If your flight is canceled and it is due to weather, the airlines will accommodate you on the next available flight but they are not obligated to provide free food or a free hotel. Most airlines will offer discounted hotel rates. If your flight is caused by a mechanical issue, then airlines will provide hotels if necessary and food vouchers if necessary as well. Most airlines have what they call a “condition of carriage” that relates to this very issue. See below as examples:
- If your flight has been canceled, the airlines will accommodate you on the next available flight. That may be hours from your original flight. They can put you on a standby list for earlier flights, but they have to book you on a flight prior to putting you on standby list.
- Only the airport can you put you on a standby list. Calling the reservation center will not help. It is an airport function.
- Airlines do not provide vouchers for rental cars or trains. Some airlines do provide bus service vouchers but it depends on the particular city and agreements that are in place.
- If you fail to take one of the flights in your itinerary, the rest of your itinerary will be canceled. For example, you are traveling Milwaukee-Chicago-LAX-Chicago-Milwaukee and you decide to drive to Chicago instead of flying with your carrier. If you did not notify the airline, they will cancel out the rest of your itinerary when you don’t show up for the Milwaukee-Chicago flight. It is an automated response within the airline’s computer system. If you change your flight itinerary, you must notify the airline!
- Most airlines will provide a higher boarding priority if you check in online. This is important given just about all airlines charge for bags and most passengers prefer to carry on their bags. Higher boarding priority increases the probability you will not have to check your bag at the gate.
- In general, it is common for the lowest boarding priority to go to those who see an agent to check in, so even if you forget to check in online, choose a kiosk rather than seeing a live person if possible.
- The FAA commonly audits the airlines on all of their procedures, so when the flight attendants, agents, and managers are being insistent on the rules it is because they will be fined if they do not and then written up by their supervisors.
- Airlines have to be particular about the necessary documents to travel. Make sure your passport is in good condition. Of course, have your ID and visa if necessary for your trip. The airline will get fined for allowing a passenger to travel without the proper documents and the traveler will be sent back to their original departure city at the airline’s expense.
Overbooking / Volunteering To Be Bumped for a Flight Voucher
Overbooking is a common phenomenon for the airlines. Sometimes an agent at the gate will have to solicit volunteers to give up their seats on an overbooked flight. When the agent cannot get a passenger to volunteer, they will have to involuntarily remove someone off the flight. These passengers are commonly known as “invols”.
If the agent solicits volunteers, the passengers who volunteer will receive a voucher for later travel and will be booked later or the next day. Sometimes the airlines will also offer food vouchers. The volunteer passenger or “vol” will wait until the flight leaves and then receive the voucher
In most cases, the airline’s Revenue Management department will advise of the amount the agent will be able to offer. In general, the days of the agent being able to keep going up and up on the voucher amount are over.
If you involuntarily removed from an overbooked flight (“invol”) – you will be offered a voucher or a check at the airport after the flight has departed. The voucher is just almost always more than the check amount. ALWAYS TAKE THE CHECK!!!! If for some reason you elect to take the voucher, use it quickly. Airlines like to give the voucher due to a realistic probability the passenger will not use it before it expires (usually within 1 year).
- Global Entry (international) http://www.cbp.gov/global-entry/about
Applying and obtaining global entry will allow you to expedite your process when arriving back into the United States. See website for more information and instructions.
- Known Traveler number (domestic) http://www.tsa.gov/tsa-precheck/what-tsa-precheck%C2%AE
- Applying and receiving the known traveler number will allow you to enter the TSA precheck line and expedite your security process. The known traveler number must be on your reservation and in every one of your frequent flyer traveler programs.
- Check your itinerary and make sure it is right including name and travel dates. The government mandates that passengers provide their date of birth.
- Make sure your documents are in order-ID, passport, and visas. Most travel agencies use CIBT to provide guidelines for travel documents. There are many good resources but I have found them to be extremely helpful. http://cibtvisas.com/
- Canada is not part of the US (even if it’s a short flight). Bring your passport.
- Even if you are traveling solely within the US, you may still want to consider bringing your passport. For example, if you are traveling from New York to Chicago and need to be rerouted due to weather / flight cancellations, you will have more options to choose from if you can include Canadian cities such as Toronto or Montreal.
- Airlines are and will continue to operate with very high load factors which mean your flight will be full of people and if it is not enjoy that flight even more.
- When you book hotels it is best to book a hotel with a cancellation policy. For example, hotels do have cancellation policies of 72, 48, 24 hours and sometimes same day at 4pm or 6pm. Be sure to read you’re the fine print on cancellation policies. I always advise to avoid nonrefundable hotels. Plans have a habit of changing.
- When booking a car you will not need to enter in your credit card information. If you feel you will miss your flight and know you will have to drive back to your destination you can reserve your car in advance so you know you will have one. If you do not use it, please call the car rental company, as someone else will probably need it.
- Hotels: if you are concerned that you will have to stay overnight at your connection city due to weather (the airline will not pay) it could be a good idea to book a hotel with a 6pm day of arrival cancel policy. If you do not use it make sure you cancel prior to 6pm or you will be charged for the night.