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1. Take nonstop flights. If you can't avoid a connection, leave at least an hour between arrival and departure.
2. Fly as early as possible, preferably before 9 a.m. Late-night flights often are canceled, and delays are worst between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.
3. Avoid the last week of the month. Crews have monthly service limits, so cancellations are more likely.
4. Check on-time records. Before you choose your flight, get information on specific flights and airports at www.bts.gov/ntda/oai.
5. Avoid airlines with labor problems. They may face slowdowns even if a strike has not been called.
6. Get a paper ticket, not an e-ticket. It makes transfering to another airline much quicker in the event your flight is canceled.
7. Look for heavily discounted and last-minute fares at Web sites such as www.bestfares.com. Find super bargains there called "Snooze You Lose." Sign up for e-mail alerts of sale fares at travel Web sites, such as www.trip.com (a partner of BusinessWeek Online), and at the airlines' Web sites.
8. Use Saturday-night stay-over fares. You book two round-trip tickets with Saturday-night requirements on two different airlines and use each ticket only one-way on a weekday.
9. Fly discount airlines. Consider booking on Frontier (FRNT
), Southwest (LUV
), AirTran (AAI
), Sun Country (SUNO
), American Trans Air, JetBlue, and National.
10. Use alternative airports. They're often cheaper. Try San Jose instead of San Francisco, Providence instead of Boston, or Chicago's Midway instead of O'Hare.