Top Air Travel Questions, Asked and Answered

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Millions of people around the globe travel by air every day, but even though this is one of the most popular modes of transportation available there are still a lot of unanswered questions about the airline industry.  Here, see the most asked questions by air travelers and their informed expert answers.

  • How can I fly with my pet?

Yes, you can fly with Fido and Miss Kitty, but there are rules. Most airlines require a special carrier and charge fees for passengers who want to bring their cats and dogs onboard a flight.

  Click here to see a complete list of rules and regulations when it comes to flying with your pets.

  • What's the difference between Global Entry and TSA PreCheck?

Global Entry is a program from U.S. Customs and Border Protection that allows citizens to bypass long lines as they return to the United States. For $100 covering five years, passengers skip the line and instead go to an electronic kiosk to scan their passport and fingers, answer a few questions, get a printed receipt, pick up your luggage and go to a special line and be on your way. Travelers who have Global Entry are automatically enrolled in PreCheck, a trusted traveler program run by the Transportation Security AdministrationPreCheck allows travelers to leave on their shoes, light outerwear and belt, keep their laptop in its case and their 3-1-1 compliant liquids/gels bag in a carry-on, using special screening lanes.

  • How do the airlines handle pregnant flyers?

    Most airlines allow pregnant women to fly up to 28 weeks. After that, there are myriad requirements and cut-off dates outlining when women who are expecting are no longer allowed to fly. Here's a comprehensive list of regulations from the top global airlines.

    • What can I do to overcome my fear of flying?

      You have to fly, but you have a fear. You are not alone, and there's help. Dr. Nadeen White, a travel blogger, shared how she copes with her fear of flying. There are also great resources for how travelers can handle their fears.

      • What are my rights as an air traveler?

      You're bumped -- voluntarily or involuntarily -- from your flight. Your flight is delayed or canceled. You wonder if you got the best airfare. Or your luggage is damaged or lost. As an air traveler, you have rights as determined by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Here's a list of eight rights you probably didn't know you had. you probably didn't know you had.

      • How Do I Find the Cheapest Airline Tickets?

      There are a number of reputable sites online that will allow you to book cheap and deeply discounted airfare. Some of these include Hipmunk, Kayak, and Cheapflights. SecretFlyer.com is another great site that can help you score some major deals.

      • Can a Commercial Jet Fly Safely With Only One Engine?

      Today’s modern jet aircraft are able to fly safely with only one engine. In an emergency, a plane can even be flown with no engines, as demonstrated during the incident involving US Airways Flight 1549, otherwise known as the Miracle on the Hudson.

      • What Happens If My Flight Is Delayed or Cancelled?

      The first thing to do is not panic -- delays are usually due to things out of our control like the weather, mechanical issues with the plane, traffic control issues, and more. However, there are some things you can do to minimize the effects of a delayed or canceled flight. 

      • What Happens If an Airline Loses My Luggage?

      It's the worst nightmare of every airline passenger, but unfortunately, it's a reality of air travel. Here's what to do when your luggage goes on a trip without you.  A good rule of thumb is to always travel with an emergency kit in your carry-on that includes a dental travel kit and a mini deodorant.

      • What Are Three Items You Should Never Travel Without?

      1. Noise canceling headphones to get away from the noise of crying babies, loud passengers, and engines (Bose makes a great pair). 
      1. A pack of baby wipes, which do everything from freshening hands and faces to wiping down airplane trays.
      2. A pashmina shawl -- which can be used as a wrap, a pillow, a skirt cover and an accessory to dress up travel outfits.

      In addition to these game changers, check out some more recommended items that every traveler should have for a comfortable flight.

      • What Are the Best Ways to Get an Upgrade to First or Business Class?

      Unfortunately, airlines are really getting tight with upgrades overall, especially on international flights. But there are still some ways you can get it --  if you have gold or above frequent flyer status on an airline; if you have an airline-branded credit card; if you’ve bought a full-fare economy class ticket; or if you dress like you should be sitting in premium class. None of these is a guaranteed bump up, but they can help.

      • How Do I Handle It If I’m Downgraded From First or Business Class on a Flight?

      The simple answer is that you are refunded the fare difference -- but only if you ask. Ask for a seat toward the front and you may receive -- they just might even offer a free drink and snacks from first class to sweeten the pot.

      • Should You Buy Cancellation Travel Insurance?

      In the past, you would see kiosks or desks at airports selling travel insurance. These days, airline and travel websites do offer you the chance to buy insurance in case your flight is canceled. For example, United Airlines has partnered with Allianz Global Assistance for insurance in case you have to cancel or interrupt your trip for an unexpected, covered reason. It covers prepaid and nonrefundable tickets, accommodations and other travel expenses. It also covers emergency medical assistance.

      • What Happens If a Pilot Becomes Incapacitated and Is Unable to Fly the Plane?

      Fortunately, you are still safe -- the remaining co-pilot is more than capable of flying the plane. There also may be an off-duty pilot who can help: In the case of extreme emergency, the crew may ask if there’s a pilot onboard.

      • What Are the Longest and Shortest Flights in the World?

      Conde Nast Traveler has determined that Auckland, New Zealand to Dubai, UAE on Emirates is the longest flight, clocking in at more than 17 hours. On the flip side, the shortest is Westray-Papa Westray on Scotland’s Loganair, which takes less than a minute.