Headaches, Begone!: 5 Tips for Making Airline Travel Easier
In these days of canceled flights, long lines at airline counters, and more frustrated customers than satisfied ones, there are some things you can do to make your trip go smoothly (or at least MORE smoothly). Headaches, begone!
1. Make sure you have enough time between your flights.
When your airline rep or the online scheduler tries to force you to have a connection of less than about 90 minutes, see if there's another option. If the website won't let you, call the associated phone number. Sure, you might end up sitting in the airport for several hours, but that's better than sitting there for several days because you missed your connecting flight and the airline can't (or won't!) book you on another one.
2. Plan for delays.
Right now, flights just are delayed. More and more, delay is to be expected, particularly if you're not flying direct or are coming out of a major airport. Sometimes, delay is even planned into the flight schedule when leaving from some airports (my experience, for example, is that the airlines pad by about 30 minutes when scheduling a flight from LAX). It's easy to pick up a book or a journal and have it with you, just in case. And sitting down to read when you have to wait reduces your stress and that of the people around you. For a list of the best and worst airports, click here.
3. Fly out of a smaller airport.
This isn't an option for everyone, but when it is, take it. It's worth the extra $20, $20, or $50 to fly from an airport with shorter security lines and more accessible airline agents. Think of it as paying yourself for the time you save because you don't have to arrive as early or stand in line as long. Plus, flights from smaller airports are more likely to be on time than flights from major airports.
4. Know your rights.
While airlines aren't held to it by law, there exists an Air Passenger's Bill of Rights. Some airlines also have their own. Though it's not law, being able to quote an established document gives you some ground to stand on if you end up in a dispute with your airline.
5. Travel light.
If you don't have a bag to check, life at the airport is much easier. With many airlines, you can check in at a kiosk and not have to stand in line. You don't have to worry about lost luggage. You don't have to wait for your luggage when you arrive at your destination. Not sure what not to take? Check here.