Actually, sorry – that doesn’t work for me…
Did you know you can actually fix many ticket spelling mistakes, even if an airline says you can’t? It’s true, and there are so many things airlines don’t tell you that you can do, which you totally can.
Sometimes it feels as if airlines hold all the cards, leaving travellers at the wrong end of every single travel experience. But if you pay close attention, you may soon find that there are options, there are outlets and hopefully, great solutions too, which may even be news to the person they’ve put in front of you at the airport. Here are five airline rules or concepts, which may be infinitely helpful on your next trip…
For some airlines this is a rule, while for others it’s a customer service guideline you may have to politely argue to attain. The “500 mile” rule is your friend when an airline changes or cancels your reservation in any way. A perfect example would be a schedule change, ideally over 30 minutes.
If an airline changes a flight to an earlier or later time, you can argue that this no longer works for you, and request to be re routed, or depart from a different location within 500 miles. If you scored a deal from a nearby city, or would rather add an extra city to your trip this can work brilliantly. After all, it’s their fault. This works all around the world. The key: be persuasive.
Example: You live in London, bought scored an amazing deal from Paris to Bangkok. The airline then changed the time of your flight back to Paris, after you booked. You could argue that the new timing does not work, and therefore they should change your ticket to London as the final destination. London is within 500 miles of Paris, hence the 500 mile rule.
Even airlines which aren’t partners in any forward facing “public” way often have hidden passenger friendly agreements. These agreements allow passengers to check in for a flight on one airline, and have their bags automatically transferred to future flights on other airlines. Some airlines even allow this on separately booked itineraries.
This can be a game changer when traveling in places where you can stay airside, rather than needing to clear immigration, grab your bags, re check them and then re clear immigration. A great way to start is by googling “interline agreements” for your initial airline. Politely ask at the check in desk if your bags can be interlined, with your onward itinerary confirmation handy.
Example: Emirates and Qatar are not forward facing airline partners, but they do have an interline agreement. In theory, someone flying to Bangkok on Qatar on one itinerary could have their bags interlined onto a separately booked Emirates flight out of Bangkok, with no stress or hassle.
Airlines don’t often want to do this, but in a pinch, an informed traveler would be crazy not to enquire. And in some regions like Europe, airlines must obey. If an airline cancels a flight for any reason, and you find an alternative flight on another airline in the same cabin class, you can ask the original airline to endorse your ticket over to the other flight on an alternate airline.
Even if the airlines aren’t specifically partners, or actually seem like enemies, they may likely have an agreement which allows them to send passengers onto each others flights. This is a game changer as a passenger. If your flight is cancelled, simply check for available flights on other airlines, see if there are any available tickets online and quickly find an agent and politely beg them to endorse your ticket over.
Example: American Airlines and Delta are certainly not partners. But in a pinch, American Airlines could endorse your ticket over to Delta, getting you to your destination on time or very close, even if American Airlines is all cancelled for the day. These endorsements are first come first serve and subject to tickets being available, so act fast.
This is simple and it’s very, very effective. It now also works in more and more areas around the world, with a growing list of airlines. Though some policies are even more friendly, any ticket which touches the United States (even just connecting) is entitled to a 24 hour risk free cancellation period, so long as it’s booked 7 days in advance or more.
Translation: you never have to miss out on a flight deal because you’re not sure you can use it. Any ticket can be cancelled within 24 hours, with no penalty and the payment will be refunded to the initial source. This is massive when a flash sale comes around, knowing you can get in before the deal is gone, but if dates prove too difficult, you can cancel with ease.
Example: If an airline offers a crazy flash sale, with $450 round trip business class tickets to Australia from North America, you want to get in on that quickly. Even if you can’t get in touch with your boss in the next five minutes, before the deal goes away, you can just book, knowing you can cancel risk free. And here’s how to find these crazy deals in the first place!
If an airline needs to bump someone, and no one takes the voucher bait – someone is entitled to cash – not vouchers, particularly in the USA where you can get up to 4x the cost of your fare. Airlines have a unique knack for not making this abundantly clear to passengers who are inconvenienced.
In almost any part of the world, airlines must make it clear – like printed sheet of paper clear- that a passenger who has been involuntarily left off a flight is entitled to cash and explain what else they are owed. The cash value is calculated by a multiple of the one way fare cost, up to a certain amount. The airline may make a “sweeter” offer in vouchers, perhaps up to 10x more – but it’s good to know that cold hard cash is on the table.
Sometimes taking the bump is totally worth it, like when they offer $10,000 in vouchers for taking a flight just a few hours later!
Example: You’re scheduled to fly from Chicago to New York, you checked in on time, were at the gate on time and you’ve been bumped without accepting an offer to get bumped. You can take an airline voucher offer, but you can also demand cash. The airline must compensate you a certain amount required by law in cash, if that’s the compensation route you choose. And yep, you still get to go on the next flight.