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Traditionally high passenger volumes and the possibilities of bad weather are realities for holiday travel. Travelers on U.S. airlines usually find that ticket prices and overall costs are higher. Dean Headley, co-author of the national Airline Quality Rating from Wichita State University, says while industry airline performance quality has improved each year since 2007, the travel experience has become more stressful and uncertain, especially around the end-of-the-year holidays.
Announcer: Air travel during the holiday season can be a challenge. Mix traditionally high passenger volumes with uncertain weather and higher ticket prices, and it's no wonder that the spirit of the season can turn into frustration. But Dean Headley, co-author of the national Airline Quality Rating from Wichita State University, says there's reason for cautious optimism this holiday season for air travelers.
Headley: "There is some reason for hope in holiday travel in that in 2011 the actual fall season and holiday season was better performing than actually the summer. So that's a little counter to what it usually is."
Announcer: Headley also offers some tips for infrequent air travelers. In addition to possible hassles at the security line, be aware of fees for baggage, preferred seating and preferred boarding. This is Joe Kleinsasser at Wichita State University. This is Joe Kleinsasser at Wichita State University.
Sound bite #1
Headley looks at the reasons for concern for holiday travelers. The sound bite is 16 seconds and the outcue is "normal stuff."
Headley: "Travel concerns during the holiday are kind of a normal, regular list. There's weather, there's a higher traffic volume that presents problems and complexity for the system. And just the hustle and bustle of everybody has to be somewhere on a certain time, that's just normal stuff."
Sound bite #2
Headley offers some travel tips for holiday air travelers. The sound bite is 13 seconds and the outcue is "on those days."
Headley: "One travel trick that people could use is to make sure that they book with a little more time in each one of their connections. And instead of booking early or late, book on the day of the holiday. Typically there's a light volume on those days."
Sound bite #3
Headley says recently merged airlines often get more complaints. The sound bite is 21 seconds and the outcue is "still working on it."
Headley: "In the past we've had a lot of combining of airlines, and typically when those two large carriers combine, complaints go up, and we've seen that again with United and Continental. Right now, United is carrying the highest volume of complaints of any airline, and that's a combined airline. We don't know yet about how Southwest and AirTran are going to turn out. They're still working on it."
Sound bite #4
Headley says although the cost of flying during the holidays is often higher, there are some deals to be found. The sound bite is 23 seconds and the outcue is "price for time."
Headley: "Because of the higher demand, costs generally go up during the holiday season. It's a supply and demand thing. But there are some ways that you can be creative if you would. Maybe add a little driving at the end, go to a larger market, not necessarily fly from the small market. Drive to a large market to start with. You just have to be creative about how you're willing to trade price for time."
Sound bite #5
Headley has some tips for infrequent flyers. The sound bite is 24 seconds and the outcue is "ahead of time."
Headley: "The infrequent flyer still needs to be aware that there are hassles at the security line. Some of that's eased, but not much. You need to be aware of the fees. Check all fees ahead of time. Bags cost. Most airlines will charge you for bags, preferred seating, preferred boarding. There are fees on practically everything now. The infrequent flyer may not be aware of all that. They need to check ahead of time."