BBB issues tips to ensure safe, timely travel

June 2, 2011

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises vacationers to plan ahead when traveling this summer to ensure safety and timeliness.

"To avoid troubles in the sky, it's important for travelers to be aware of their flight options," said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. "With the burden and chaos that can come from a delayed or cancelled flight, it's important for travelers to plan ahead."

Inquiries on airlines to the BBB serving Chicago and northern Illinois increased 104% from 1206 in the last 12 months compared to 590 in the previous 12 months. Complaints are also up with 94 for this 12 month period compared to 61 in the previous 12 months or an increase of 54%. Also, according to Bureau of Transportation's 2011 Statistics, 25.5 percent of all flights were reported to be not on time.

The BBB recommends the following to travelers when booking and securing flights this summer:

The early bird gets the flight. When booking your flight, remember that an early departure time may be less likely to be delayed than a later flight, due in part to the "ripple" effects of delays throughout the day. Also, if an early flight does get delayed or canceled, you may have more rerouting options. If you book the last flight of the day and it is canceled, you could get stuck overnight.

Know your rights with a canceled flight. If your flight is canceled, most airlines will rebook you, at no charge, on their next flight where a seat is available.If this involves a significant delay, find out if another carrier has seats and ask the first airline to endorse your ticket to that carrier. Unfortunately, compensation is required by law only when you are "bumped" from a flight that is oversold. Airlines may refuse to pay passengers for financial losses resulting from a delayed flight.

Secure your payment. Consider paying by credit card, which provides certain protections under Federal credit regulations.

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