5 key tips if you're flying...

There’s a lot of frustration with air travel these days, from the confusing fares to the fees. Just figuring out what each airline charges for baggage can tricky. Booking the most affordable flight can be mind-bending.

The five cardinal rules experienced travelers go by are:

1. Book only a non-stop flight.

2. Never schedule a business meeting or other appointment the same day that you are traveling, because you might not make it in time.

3. Take the earliest crack-of-dawn flight you can possibly tolerate.

4. Travel mid-week if possible.

5. Don’t check your bag because if you have to get off the flight, you will have to wait to get it back. Or, it could get lost on the way there.

It’s also a good idea to download the airline’s app to your smartphone, and add its customer service number to your contacts list.

You can find a list of chronically delayed flights at

Go to to read about delays, lost baggage, consumer complaints and more.

Rating airlines

What’s your favorite airline, if any? Consumer Reports says in its July issue that Virgin America, a newcomer to its ratings, received the highest scores.

The survey, based on 16,663 readers’ input, also gave Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways very high ratings.

Next in order from best to worst were Hawaiian Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Delta Air Lines, US Airways, American Airlines and United Airlines. Spirit Airlines, known for charging $100 to check a bag at the gate, ranked last.