Have you just had enough with crowded airports, long lines and the fear of what the TSA will do to you as you proceed through those beeper lines? WHEW! You survived with NO pat downs!
Just as you thought you were “home free” as you approach the gate you see those big red letters saying “Cancelled Flight” … now what do you do, especially if you have a connection and your cruise ship will be departing later that day! HELP! How can one survive emotionally all the hassles of flying!
Don’t let this stop you from realizing your dream vacation! Here are some survival tips to help you navigate through that wind tunnel!
1. Early birds are winners! Even though the airlines have relaxed their advisory as to how early to be at the airport for domestic (generally one hour) or international (two hours), it truly pays to tack on an additional hour to give you the advantage to plan for the uneventful … mechanical, weather, etc…oftentimes if there is a snag, the airlines can book you on an earlier flight or another carrier if they need to accommodate customers should the flight face a cancellation. Also being early at check in (even if you got your seat assignment with an on line booking), you can always upgrade and get a better and less cramped seat! Get there early … sip a cappuccino and read your travel book! Sure beats running late and all the hassle to find alternatives should your flight be cancelled!
2. Air Line Lounges: Want to get away from the crowds? So you took my advice and now have two hours to spend at the gate area … the airport is crowded and noisy what can I do? If you are not already a member of one of the airlines lounges, you are welcomed to purchase a “day pass” – splurge a little, especially if you have a long international flight and you have been up since 4:00 am!
Generally all refreshments are included in your day pass fee … AND as an added benefit, the receptionists are generally very gracious and ready to help you with any questions regarding your air travel and accommodations. They can be especially helpful with flight cancellations and accommodations.
Another tip also, should a flight be cancelled and the gate agent directs you to the “service area” where you will be rebooked on another flight … and the line is 50 people deep … a little secret is to just call the airline directly and rebook your flight! Saves a lot of time and hassle!
3. No Checked Bag: Very important to not check a bag. If you do at the check in desk you will be charged. If you do bring your roller board to the gate, and the plane is full, oftentimes the agent at the gate will check your bag at no charge to you. If you are making connections, keep your bag! So be frugal when it comes to what you bring. If traveling over holidays, mail your gifts for it is less hassle and you run the risk of the TSA opening the gifts when going through security.
4.Pack your meds: Be sure your medications are with you at all times and of course if they are liquid, be sure to have your doctor’s RX order in the event you are stopped at security. They can be packed in zip lock bags separate from your other liquids and gels.
5. Food: Always have protein bars and small snacks to eat for one never knows when your stomach will be growling and number 1 rule is never EXPECT the airline to provide food. Generally, for domestic flights food is served for purchase; for international flights the food is complimentary.
6. Beverages: For domestic and international flights non-alcoholic beverages are complimentary. For alcohol there is a charge for coach, complimentary for first class. Warning: one alcoholic drink is comparable to drinking 3 to 4 drinks on the ground! Also alcohol is very dehydrating so be sure to follow up with lots of water,
7. Water: The more water you drink the better you will feel! Flying is very dehydrating so be sure to water up whenever you can! Also getting out of your seat and a brief walk up and down the aisle will do wonders for your circulation and help in the swelling of your ankles which all experience on long flights!
8. Upgrades: Save your upgrades for better seats for those longer flights. Most airlines now for a few more dollars you can upgrade to exit row seats which have more leg room … however, being exit row seats the seat backs generally do not recline!
9. Be nice to the crew: As to your seat assignment, once on board the crew have no authority to upgrade you to first or business class if available no matter how many miles you have! That has to be done at the gate. However, crew can assist with trying to seat families together who may have been separated etc..a little appreciation goes a long way to help you!
10. Entertainment: Bring your own.. from IPods, to noise cancelling headphones, cards, kindles, crosswords! Be prepared so you will not be disappointed. For long domestic and international flights the videos/TV generally are working but there always are seats where the systems have malfunctioned! So have your own entertainment just in case!
Be prepared, preplan, be early and you will be all the wiser and ready to navigate through the many challenges of air travel. True, gone are the days we remembered as youngsters when air travel was a luxury as we dressed in our very best! Now it is dressing comfortably, being prepared, and not expecting anything from the airlines as to comfort or accommodations. It is like a crowded bus wherein we just hope we get a decent seat as we are crammed like sardines into a space which seems to get smaller and smaller! Keep your sights on that destination, when you can leave the plane and begin your sojourn at that destination that has been years in the planning! Best of luck!
May 17, 2013