Airline travel survival guide

It’s not your imagination: Some airplanes now come with seats closer together, smaller bathrooms, and less space for carry-on luggage. So it’s no surprise that flying is less comfortable and more aggravating. But what really bugs passengers most?

Consumer Reports says that with the rise of the low-cost carriers, there’s been increased competition to get airfares at the lowest possible price, and they hope that travelers will then decide to upgrade their tickets to more expensive fares offering more perks. Airlines offer enticements such as early boarding, extra legroom, and a checked bag, but all for an additional price.

So how do you score a more comfortable, hassle-free flight without extra fees? Consumer Reports says choose a top-rated airline. In its latest survey of over 52 thousand CR members reporting on nearly one-hundred -thousand economy-class domestic flights, the airlines that received the best overall scores were Southwest, Alaska, JetBlue, and Hawaiian. All four scored high marks in cabin cleanliness, keeping passengers informed of flight status, and good service from airline staff.

The bottom two were Frontier and Spirit. They received low marks for ease of check-in, keeping passengers informed of flight status, and pricing transparency.

And how do you get the best price for your flight? Consumer Reports suggests searching multiple times over multiple days, and shop both at airline websites and third-party sites such as Kayak and Orbitz.

Consumer Reports: Best way to pack a carry-on suitcase

If you’re taking a plane trip anytime soon you might consider bringing only a carry-on. Some airlines have recently upped their fees from $25 to $30 per checked bag. But not to worry, it is possible to fit everything into a carry-on. Consumer Reports is here to help with space-saving packing techniques.

Consumer Reports says that the number one thing you need to do is make a list of your essentials. Include everything: clothing, shoes, toiletries, medication, electronics and documents like passports.

Next – forget about a separate outfit for each day. Instead mix and match – 3 tops to go with one pair of pants, for example. And stick with 3 pairs of shoes. Big things like shoes should go in the bottom. Pack them toe to heel at the base for stability. And roll non-wrinkle prone items instead of folding them. And what about your undergarments? Put them in between the cracks. Stuff your socks into your shoes and into your toiletry bag, too.

Tuck scarves and belts along the edges of your suitcase. Save wrinkle-prone items for last. Put them in a bag and lay them flat on the top. And try to use outside pockets for things like itineraries and computers.

Follow these steps and you just might have room for souvenirs.

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