Take it from my husband who has been traveling for over 30 years and has top status on a major airline. He has never missed a flight and is able to tell me exactly where to go, as in “turn right as you exit the jetway” or “your flight will be longer because you’ll have to fly around weather in (add a name) city”. He literally makes flying and navigating airports a breeze. He’s taught me a few things. Which now, graciously he’s put together in a list of 10 Tips for Easy Air Travel.
Take it from here Stephen Fitzgerald.
Well OK, perhaps navigating airports these days is not exactly effortless, but there are some things you can do to make life easier when you fly. I’ve assembled some pointers based on my years of airline travel and status on a major frequent flier program.
1. Do not wait in line for help when your flight is cancelled or delayed. Call the 800 number instead. They can often solve your problem more quickly and with less stress than the harried, over-worked customer service agent at the top of the line.
2. Try to consolidate your travel on one airline if possible to try to get some level of frequent flier status. In an oversold scenario, who is the airline going to bump – those customers with some level of status or someone they’ve never heard of?
3. Get a seat assignment. Pay a little more for a seat if you have to. Again, who will be bumped first – those with a seat or those without? If you don’t have a seat assignment and have no frequent flier status, you’re asking for trouble in an oversold situation. Besides, at least you have the illusion of some control over your travel experience!
4. If you travel a lot, buy an airline club membership. Sure, it’s nice to relax before the trip. But a great feature of these clubs is the built-in help desk where agents can spend a little more 1:1 time with you, helping you get re-routed in event of delay or cancellation. Worth the expense if they save you from trouble 2-3 times per year.
5. There are some great tools on-line that help you track the status of your flight. Some of these are provided by the airlines. But if you really want to know what is going on, check your flight on FlightAware.
6. If you are traveling with kids, especially young ones, ask the gate agent for pre-board status. Even if your kids don’t strictly meet the pre-board age limits, the gate agent can get anyone on the plane they want, in the order they want.
7. If you are connecting through a large airport like Houston InterContinental, Detroit, Dallas Ft. Worth, and others, allow more than the minimum connection time of 45 minutes between flights. You might arrive late. You might need to use the restroom. You might be hungry. You might have kids with you. For any or all of the reasons, why run at breakneck speed through crowds when you might be able to book an itinerary that allows a little extra time?
8. In the event of trouble, be nice to airline agents and crew. I’ve NEVER seen an agent say, “well, I wasn’t going to do anything for you, but since you’ve complained so effectively and since you’re such a jerk, I’m going to help you.”
9. Unless you enjoy the baggage claim experience, carry on if you can. Get a bag that fits the overhead.
10. Finally, if you are offered compensation, remember that the first offer is never the best offer. Wait for a few rounds or speak to a gate agent. You might get what you ask for!
With that, wishing YOU the very best travel experience.