As airlines strike, travelers beware

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    By Melissa Gibbs

    Suddenly the friendly skies aren”t so friendly.

    Comair pilots are on strike.

    Delta pilots are ready to strike.

    Northwest, American and United are all in the middle of labor disputes.

    “Airline travelers need to be aware of all their options,” said Atle Erlingsson, spokesperson for American Automobile Association.

    AAA said the best thing travelers can do is to be prepared when they fly.

    Erlingson said travelers should check out a variety of carriers before booking a flight and consider using an airline that is not facing a potential strike.

    AAA also recommended using a credit card to pay for the tickets. If the carrier strikes and you cannot get your money back, the credit card company may credit your account for the fare.

    Jane Langley, spokesperson for Delta Air Line Pilots Association, said the most important thing travelers can do is be flexible.

    “Allow yourself some extra time,” Langley said. “Book the first flight of the morning so if your flight does get canceled or delayed, you have time to make other arrangements for another flight later that day.”

    Langley said travelers should reconfirm their flight at least 48 hours before departure and again 24 hours in advance.

    She also said that consumers should encourage President Bush to persuade the airlines and workers to resolve the disputes.

    “Consumers should encourage Bush to establish a passenger bill of rights,” Langley said.

    Langley said the best way to accomplish this is by calling and e-mailing congressmen, senators and the president.

    AAA also recommends holding onto the ticket if the carrier does strike. Some tickets are good for one year from the date of issue, but travelers should check with the airline about their policies.

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