Airlines prepare for Thanksgiving travel rush

Gearing up for holiday travel? According to the the Air Transport Association of America (ATA), which just published its Thanksgiving travel customer-service initiatives, you're not alone.

As we all know only too well, this has not been a good year for on-time performance or customer service, so it's good to see some preventive measures now. The ATA predicts four percent more travelers this Thanksgiving than last, and flights will be 90 percent (as opposed to the average 80 percent) full.

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To improve the holiday travel experience, many airlines will hire more employees, expand online check-in capabilities, and add more self-check-in kiosks. Airlines are also being encouraged by the ATA to block out seats on popular routes to accommodate passengers whose flights are cancelled due to weather issues, and to waive change fees for passengers who need to change flights due to weather.

A few airlines, including American, Delta, and Northwest, have already come out with holiday travel assurances or plans. Now we just hope for good weather, since the airlines can plan all they want (and I'm glad to see them taking the issue seriously), but the best laid plans will be grounded just like the planes in the event of a big storm.

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