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Air Travel: Beating the System

A fare prediction on farecast.com

Last week on my flight to San Francisco, I was nestled in my industrial gray seat when I realized there was no TV. For a midday, 6 hour flight, that was pretty devastating.

On my way home I waited an hour to board before the announcement came that the plane was "broken," and my flight was cancelled. The next flight: 6 am the next day. Back at the airport for round two, I was told that my flight would once again be delayed. Cue the crying. With kids, this would be a total nightmare scenario.

At the time I felt like a pawn, helpless to whims of merciless airlines whose fares seem to get higher and higher. But back on solid ground I’ve discovered a wealth of resources for avoiding (some) of the painful aspects of air travel.

seatguru.com
All the information you didn't think you could ask for: A map of the plane indicates which seats are the best and worst. An amenities list lets you know if there will be things like TV, baby changers and bassinets, or free cookies for every passenger (good luck with that). You can even check out extra charges -- JetBlue charges $7 for a pillow and blankets!

farecast.com
Search for your flight and based on fares from the past 70 days the site will predict whether the price will go up or down. If fares are sinking you'll know to wait and save $$. Maybe you’ll be able to swing that family vacay after all!

flightstats.com
Get the On-Time Performance Rating for a certain flight, airline or airport. With this site, I could have seen that that AA 16 is on time only 53% of the time with an average delay of 34 minute -- and selected a different flight.

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