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Consumer Reports: Airline travel survival guide

Posted at 8:34 AM, Nov 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-28 10:48:09-05

TUCSON, Ariz. - 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? It's not just cramped quarters that makes modern-day air travel so unpleasant.

"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," says Octavio Blanco, Consumer Reports.

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 more than 52,000 CR members reporting on nearly 100,000 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.