Traveling can be bonkers. I have seen crying moms, screaming babies, grumpy grandfathers, flying luggage and hell raising security people not to mention army’s of angry customers picketing outside a just canceled flight gate. In an effort to avoid to avoid these cringe worthy moments and save you some time and money I have put together a few useful tips from booking to boarding.
Booking / Pre Airport:
1) Congratulations, you’re booked. Don’t sleep! Check SeatGuru and assign a seat as fast as you can so that you can get the seat(s) you want. You don’t want to beg a gate agent or haggle with other passengers….like this one (below). Like most things, the early bird gets the worm…. or seat.
2) Look For Upgrade Options… People in first class look happy because they are. No waiting in line, no cramped seat. Trade the cramping pain for champagne by following these tips on upgrading. In my opinion, the longer the flight, the better the time to upgrade. Bigger planes generally offer more amenities like beds rather than seats as well as sophisticated meal service. Don’t waste an upgrade on an hour flight….
3) Check in/ Print: If available, check in and print your boarding pass(es) at home. Lines to drop bags off are often much shorter than lines to check in. When weather or flight problems arise the check in counter is used to rebook or reroute passengers which can take forever. Print at home and head to baggage drop if you have bags or straight to security if you don’t!
4) Book your Airport transportation immediately! You know what taxi companies love? Desperate last minute people! Don’t get hosed on cab fare by waiting until the last minute. Check some of these great private transit options that I use regularly. If you are taking mass transit or have a friend giving you a lift, just stay on top of things and make sure you have the right train/plane schedule! I’ve seen too many people show up hours late saying they read their itinerary wrong!
At the Airport:
1) Arrive early. Don’t be the McCallisters in Home Alone and leave someone behind because you are rushed. By beating the rush for you flight, In the event of adverse weather or a need to rebook, you will have first dibs on any available hotel vouchers and first preference on alternative travel. This is priceless. I love to use google maps to plan my route to the airport around any traffic to ensure that I land an early arrival.
2) Avoid the Touchy Security Agents! No one likes the hands of a creepy looking stranger wearing a badge all over them. If you haven’t enrolled in TSA Pre Check, Registered Traveller, Global Entry or other, do it! It will save time and stripping! Whether you have a snazzy membership or not, think ahead with your packing and outfit. If in doubt put it in the plastic bin to go through the machine. Yes I am talking about your big LV belt buckle, your watch, your gold chain, the change in your pocket and the fabergë egg you have hidden. Anything metallic is going to set off the scanner and get you a very friendly pat down from this guy…
3) Get access to an Airport Lounge! In my post WTF is a Lounge and How Do I Get In I detailed what a sanctuary a lounge can be and just how cheap it is. Once inside you will avoid crowds, have wifi, unlimited free alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks and some snacks. Nothing beats a delay like sitting on a couch in peace having unlimited free glasses of wine, beer, cocktail or champagne.
4) Board your Zone! Zones are created for a reason! If you have Zone 1 or Prioriy Boarding take advantage of it and settle in before the hoards of crazy people start pushing. If you are stuck in Zone 4 wait your turn, I work hard and fly very often to get my little perk of early boarding! I will step on your feet!
In the Event of Weather/Flight Cancellation
1) Book First Ask Questions Last… It is common place to receive compensation from an airline for any reasonable expenses incurred during a cancellation. Airlines often arrange a block of rooms for passengers who are stuck. Guess who gets them? The first people in line. Unless you want to sleep on a floor, book a hotel on your own, pay for it and then take it up with the airline. They will send you a check upon receipt of your hotel bill. You can also be reimbursed for reasonable cab/uber fare to and from the airport.
2) Keep calm and option on. If the rarest of events occurs and you get a helpful airline employee who genuinely wants to help stay calm and be thankful. These people didn’t cancel your flight, they did not make the weather turn bad and they certainly are not going to have an easy afternoon. Be courteous and thankful and offer them options. See if there is another way to reach your destination, see if there is a morning flight that you can be booked on, the options are endless so be ready with some to help.
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