Here are a few tips to help you save time and money, and keep your stress to a minimum. This comes from MSNBC.

  • Mobile boarding passes. If you’re departing from a major airport, like New York’s LaGuardia, Chicago’s O’Hare, or Los Angeles International Airport, some airlines will send an electronic boarding pass to your Internet-capable phone or PDA. Including American, Delta, Continental and Northwest airlines. At the airport, you just open the message so security and gate employees can scan the barcode.  
  • Even if you can’t get a mobile boarding pass, use your Web-capable phone – or regular ol’ computer - to check in and get your seat assignment BEFORE you get to the airport. Fewer seats are available this holiday season, flights are heavily overbooked, and passengers who check in late are often the first to get bumped.
  • So, want to save money on your checked baggage? Most airlines now charge $15 for the first checked bag. However, if you’re flying United, you can save $3 if you prepay the fee for your first bag when you check in online.  
  • Also, double-check your airline’s rules for carry-on bags. Some have reduced the size of the bags they allow. For example, Continental used to accept carry-ons that totaled 51 inches – the height and width added together. So, a 20 by 31 inch bag was fine. Now, if your bag’s over 45 inches – say, 20 by 26 – they’ll make you check it.
  • Security checkpoints at most airports now include FAMILY lanes. That way, veteran travelers – who presumably know the rules – don’t have to wait in line with families and occasional travelers, who may need more time or assistance. Already, the family lanes have reduced screening time for frequent flyers, and reduced the stress and tears among families with small kids.