Summer is peak season for air travel and it is a time of year when you should arrive at the airport earlier than usual. Because there are so many travelers, there can be traffic congestion and longer lines for security.
Many people bring along smartphones and tablets and many airports offer Wi-Fi to you help pass the time. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world’s largest airport, just started offering free Internet, but some other large airports still charge.
Boingo offers Wi-Fi at a number of airports, plus other locations. Many of these airports give you 30 minutes of Boingo service for free, though you may have to watch an ad first. Boingo (boingo.com) has a pay-by-the-hour or subscription services. At press time, Boingo was offering a special rate of $4.98 per month for the first three months. This was for unlimited access for up to two devices for use at any of its U.S. hot spots. Visit bestfares.com/freewifi to see a list of U.S. airports with free Wi-Fi and Boingo service.
If you want to bring your pet along on your next flight, you need to know the cost and policies before booking. Not all airlines permit pets to fly as checked baggage in cargo and, if they do, it will cost you a pretty penny. There are a lot of rules and restrictions, which vary by airline, so you’ll want to read the fine print before booking. Southwest does not allow animals in the cargo hold at all and only recently has allowed cats and dogs in the cabin as carry-on.
The heat of summer and cold of winter can be dangerous, so many carriers have pet restrictions based on temperature. For example, American does not allow pets as checked luggage when the current or forecast temperature is above 85 or below 45 degrees.
Flying a pet as cargo can be more expensive than the cost of your ticket. American charges $350 round trip and Delta charges $400 round trip for pets traveling as checked luggage on domestic flights. United charges $518 round trip for a cat or dog under 50 pounds and that includes the weight of the crate. Prices go up based on weight and size.
If you are taking a small cat or dog under 20 pounds, you should bring the pet in the cabin. Use a soft-sided case to make sure it fits under the seat. A passenger on a flight to Las Vegas that I was on brought her small pet on board, but she couldn’t get the hard-sided case under the seat. She was given two choices: Get off the plane with the animal or put in the animal in the cargo hold. She elected to get off the plane.
If you want to bring a pet in the cabin, be aware that most airlines limit the number of cabin pets on the flight.
For example, Delta allows two pets in first class, two in business class and four in coach on most domestic flights. Southwest charges $95 each way for in-cabin pets; Virgin America and JetBlue charge $100 each way; and American, US Airways, Delta and United charge $125 each way. Some airlines do not allow pets in first class.
If you do bring an animal on board, your pet must remain in the carrier during the flight. In some cases, you may have to give up your carry-on luggage allowance to bring a pet on board, so you also might have to pay to check a bag.
My 19-year-old cat has trained me well and I would never check her as luggage. If I wanted to be clawed to death after we land, I could put her in a carry-on bag and bring her on the flight. For the amount the airlines charge to fly a pet, I would rather get a cat sitter and enjoy my trip without the hassle, worry or expense of flying my pet. I think my cat would agree.
Tom Parsons is CEO of www.bestfares.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.