The good news for travelers – new regulations prohibit long delays on the plane. The bad news – airlines are much more likely to cancel flights to prevent those delays. Bad and unpredictable weather make it worse.
Many small to medium sized airports are no longer serviced by major airlines. This means a very long drive before and after the flight. Go prepared.
1. Check In – When you go on line 24-3 hours ahead you’ve confirmed your seat so you won’t get bounced. (Airlines overbook since some travelers don’t show up. Let them know you will) Also you’ll have a better chance of improving your seat, although paying extra for a good seat seems to be routine now. You’ll probably notice people who have checked in online and show their phone text instead of a paper boarding pass. (I’m a little old fashioned I guess but I keep thinking, “What if my phone goes dead, just at the moment I need it.”) Delta now has an app you can download to your mobile device to check in.
2. Pack a carry-on with everything you’d want if your flight or connection were very delayed.
- Reading materials
- Sweater or throw (In winter, a warmer coat in the overhead – what if your luggage is delayed?)
- Mobile phone
- Phone charger
- Special neck pillow
- Makeup, maybe a toothbrush
3. Before you board, check your connection flight. If there’s a problem and you need to rebook, it’s easier on the ground.
4. You know all about 3 ounces or less per liquid to carry on but just double check your purse and bag one more time. (Some airports have a Starbucks outlet just before security – so resist unless you want to stand and drink quickly.) Buy food after security for the flight. Many airports have recently changed their offerings to be fresher and healthier. Or bring your non-liquid food from home.
5. If your flight is canceled, re-book using gate agents, your mobile device or the special service computers some airlines now offer. Sometimes someone back home can do it more easily with a screen and phone if the airport is chaotic with cancelled flights.
6. Things going wrong — if you tweet, now’s the time. Airlines have been monitoring them and assisting travelers. Tell them if you’re miserable or their system isn’t working.
7. For long weights, an airport club is often more comfortable. Be a guest of a member who on the same flight or pay for a day pass. (Free access for Delta clubs comes with a Platinum American Express card. Delta no longer allows guests of members without their paying.) Club agents are very accommodating and pleasant. You can relax with a drink, snacks and a comfortable chair. Some clubs in large hubs offer free light buffet lunch around noon. Priority Pass, an international network, offers several classes of membership. The higher the yearly fee, the lowest the daily. The lowest is $99 a year plus $27 per visit for member and $27 per guest. In the U.S., they have 60 clubs.
7. If you’re stranded overnight, ask the airlines for vouchers toward discounted hotel rooms and food. But know that it’s unlikely if the cancellation is due to weather.
8. In a long delay or cancellation, consider paying to use the rest and shower places offered in some of the larger airport hubs. Locate them by courtesy phone or map. Stuck overnight in the airport? Try the white courtesy phones to locate cots, blankets, diapers that some airports are now stocking. Stock up on food and water quickly if it looks like you’ll have a lot of company overnight.
9. If you’re handicapped or you’ll have trouble walking long distances to the gate, talk to the airline and make arrangements when you book. Then talk to the flight attendants on the flight. Don’t count on airport wheel chairs being available unless you’ve arrange them. Airlines are now much more responsive to handicap needs with helpers and chairs. Big electric carts are less available lately as airlines move to special the small one-person chairs. Nice for individuals, but bad for someone traveling with small children or in a group. I see too many women struggling with small children down those long corridors. Maybe mothers need to be actively soliciting help from the airlines.
10. If you travel with an animal in a carrier with you in the cabin, be sure to reserve ahead. There are limits to the number allowed per flight. However, the fees have become so high, there are fewer. In addition, you have to take the animal out of carrier and carry it through security. Then the agents test your hands for explosives – in case you’ve loaded kitty with dangerous chemicals.
Do you have any more ideas to share? Make a comment to help others!
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