There are other things to think about] with air travel then getting through the TSA lines and packing well.

Another important thing to think about with air travel is irregular operations, better known to the public as those damned airplane delays and cancellations. First note: It is somewhat possible to avert delays through sensible planning. For example, try to avoid making a connection in Chicago in the winter. Other then that, if the weather looks bad the day of your flight, you will sometimes have luck if you call the airline's reservation number and ask to reroute your flight.

If a cancellation happens, your best bet is to get on the phone and call up reservations. Unless you're the first person to get to the gate agent's desk, you'll probably wait in line forever there. Also, you'll probably be dealing with someone who is less stressed out on the phone, which should work in your advantage. Also, don't get mad at the airline employees. They can't control the weather, and its not them to blame if that's why it gets cancelled. If the flight is cancelled due to mechanical problems or crew fatigue, don't get mad at the staff either. They're just trying to ensure your safety. You don't want someone who can barely stay awake flying an incredible machine, and you definitely don't want to have the engines brake in midair.

Some things to note: In the event of a weather related cancellation, the airline is not required to pay for a hotel room for you overnight. If they feel generous, they might, but federal law says they don't have to. In the event of a different cancellation, you should get compensation if you are extremely late or your flight is cancelled. In the end though, the airline is required to get you from where your itinerary started to where it ends.

Now, onto booking flights! This will focus mostly on getting a good deal. You'll generally be able to find the cheapest ticket from a ticket consolidator. One of the cheapest sites is Priceline. The problem with some of these tickets is that they may not earn miles, depending on what consolidator you use. Other suggestions involve searching for tickets flying into and out of alternate airports. You can sometimes find a cheaper flight, and might also find flights leaving at better times. Also, sometimes if you search using the multi-city search instead of the round trip search, you can find cheaper itineraries, or itineraries that avoid connecting in certain cities (such as, Chicago in the winter).

If you buy a ticket, and the price later goes down, you are entitled to compensation from the airline. You should call or write their customer service desk, and ask for money back. To make life easier, you can put your itinerary into Yapta, a website that monitors itinerary prices. Also, not all seats are created equal. In order to have a more comfortable flight, you should check SeatGuru or SeatExpert when selecting seats.

Now, onto overbooked flights. The best way to avoid getting bumped from an oversold flight is to make sure you have an assigned seat. The first people to get bumped from the flight, are passengers who are not assigned a seat. It also helps to have status on the airline, as an airline will bump someone who is a VBIT (Vacation Bound Intermittent Traveler) versus someone who is an extremely frequent flyer with hundreds of thousands of miles on the airline. Also, higher fares are normally bumped after people who paid lower prices for their tickets. If your flight looks like it might be overbooked, it might behoove you to get to the airport early and try to standby for an earlier flight, if possible.

In the event that they do have to bump passengers, and your schedule can handle a delay, you may want to volunteer to take a bump. If you decide this, you should approach the gate agent at a time where she isn't busy, and mention that you would volunteer your seat if needed. People who are voluntarily denied boarding will often get better compensation then those who are involuntarily denied boarding and you may be upgraded a class on the next flight.

Also, one might want to consider flying on only one airline in order to gain status. If you know you'll fly more then 25000 miles (the cutoff for the lowest tier of most elite programs on most airlines) in one year, you may want to consider booking all or most of your flights on one airline. Status on an airline may get you roomier seats, special reservation phone lines, special check-in desks, bonus miles on your flights, and priority boarding and security.