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'Tis the season for involuntary 'bumping' from cramped planes

Flights these days are as full as they've been since before 9/11. With the holiday travel season approaching, when even more people are expected to be traveling, your chances of getting bumped from a flight are better than ever.

The Boston Globe notes that 33,513 passengers were bumped from a flight in the period from January through June of this year (the latest figures available). That's up a staggering 34 percent over the same period in 2005.

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Unless you're one of the penny-pinchers who enjoys getting bumped in order to snag some extra perks from the airlines (and more power to you if you are), this is probably not good news. Most people I know prefer to arrive and depart at the times listed on their tickets.

So how can you avoid getting involuntarily bumped? The Globe offers a suggestion that passes muster with us here at SmarterTravel.com, too: Get to the airport early and check in as soon as possible. You can also check in online up to 24 hours before your flight with many airlines.

"The last passenger to check in is usually the first to be bumped," notes the Globe.

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