Monday, December 29, 2008

Five Must-Do's With Each Airline Reservation

By Mike Grasso

So you found the perfect flight based on your scheduling, pricing and preferred carrier needs - Great! Now, to ensure a smoother journey and avoid unplanned hassles, consider adding these additional steps to your airline ticketing process:

1. Ensure the airline has your current contact information
Be sure you provide the airline a solid email address and phone number in the event they need to reach you about changes in your itinerary. If you have registered a username/profile direct with the airlines, be sure it stays current.

2. Include your frequent flier number with your reservation.
Input your frequent flier number during the reservation process. If you forget or are unable to, call the airline at any point before departure. Then, check your boarding passes to ensure your number shows up properly. Although requesting mileage credit after a flight is possible, airlines are slow and require additional documentation to consider post-flight credit.

3. Obtain seat assignments for your journey
If possible, obtain your seat assignments in advance. This provides your first opportunity to choose your favorite seats. Need some ideas? Scroll on over to to view seat layouts with all the major carriers. Some airlines have limitations on how far in advance you can reserve seats - but are often willing to note seating preferences on your reservation.

4. Sign up for mobile flight alerts
Airlines website allow you to check the status of flights fairly easily. But websites such as will send you up-to-the-minute information on flight delays or cancellations. The service is free and available with most airlines.

5. Monitor decreases in the airfare price
Some airlines will credit you the difference if the price of your ticket happens to fall after you've purchased it. With just a few clicks, Southwest Airlines by far has the most consumer friendly procedure to apply for such a credit. United Airlines is another favorite, but you need to make a phone call, request the credit, and wait for the voucher to arrive in the mail. Neither Southwest or United charge for the refaring. Websites such as can track and alert you to fare drops so you can apply for a credit with the airline.