Yesterday, I had one of the most eventful flights and delays that I have had during my 10 years of business travel. That reminded me that those who don’t travel as much don’t know what to do and really force themselves to waste time and effort by not knowing the basics.
Here is my list of things to know if you have a flight snafu:
Find out the cause of the delay, Weather-related or Airline-caused:
Weather related: The airline is not obligated to pay for your hotel or provide any meals. However, they should put you on the next available flight automatically.
Airline-caused: If your delay causes you to miss a connection and force an overnight stay, they will give you a voucher for meals and will provide you with a hotel room. Be warned though, this is almost never the very local airport hotels and most require a shuttle to and from the airport.
- Tip 1: If you can change to a different airport, or be flexible in the re-route, definitely ask. If there are a lot of weather delays or a busy travel week, don’t expect for it to be the first flight out or the very next one. Often you can be put on standby for that earlier flight, and if it is an early in the morning flight, you will have better luck if you are there for that earlier flight.
- Tip 2: In both of these scenarios, check with the local airport hotels for “distressed traveler” rates, these are often half of some of the published “rack” rates.
- Tip 3: Call the airline reservations desk, or use the kiosks. These people do re-bookings as their full-time job, they are always faster and more efficient that a long line with a gate agent. Especially if it is in a smaller airport, where the gate agents are cross-trained to do just about everything.
- Tip 4: Be NICE Courtesy is always welcomed in these situations. A calm agent can be more efficient and will be able to think more clearly about creative options, just like you can when someone is not yelling at you.
- Tip 5: Take advantage of the other tools the airline gives you, you can often see your re-booking in an app or on the web-site. If you don’t know who do go to contact the airline via twitter, they can often make sure that your issue is directed to the right person and to someone that can actually help. Asking a flight attendant about checking bags or the processes in the baggage office is like asking a stock broker how an ATM works; they may know something about the topic, but that isn’t their job.
- Tip 6: If you checked luggage and didn’t get on the earliest flight to your destination, check the baggage office FIRST, it will often beat you home.
Know that most luggage is recovered. The tracking and bar-coding of most luggage these days makes this less and less common. If you luggage is lost or delayed:
- Tip 1: If you paid baggage fees, the agent should be able to refund those fees when you make the report. Make sure to ask, baggage fees are still a relatively new concept and the agents may forget, since frequent travelers, special credit card holders, etc. don’t pay these fees.
- Tip 2: Ask for an amenity kit, some of the airports have kits with deodorant, contact lens solution, shampoo, etc. if your luggage is misplaced or delayed and it is too late to get some of these necessities.
- Tip 3: Ask questions about if they will give a $50 voucher, or what their particular airline policy is for temporarily misplaced vs. truly lost luggage.
Do you have other tips? Please share in the comments.