'Twas the flight before Christmas.... - Amazing Journeys
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‘Twas the flight before Christmas….

Dec 23, 2009

It’s a busy travel season at the airports and you are soon to become one of the statistical “holiday travelers” about to embark on a journey along with tens of thousands of others. Coupled with some weather issues that are having residual effects across the country, you’re stressed about getting to where you want to be in a timely fashion. And…that’s certainly not how you want to define your much needed vacation. What can you do to improve your chances of getting where you want to be while minimizing the plethora of interruptions that are ever present?

The answer is; a lot!

Just follow a few simple rules and you increase your chance of jetsetting without too much a-do.

1. You should plan on longer lines than normal at check-in and security, and you should anticipate the real possibility of delays. By erring on the side of caution and getting to the airport early, you minimize your chances of a long line causing you to miss your flight (many airports no longer allowing a skipping of the line even if your flight is schedule to depart in just a few minutes) and you increase your chances of securing your seat on the flight (if the flight is “oversold”, the first people to get bumped are the travelers who check in last).

2. Travel insurance is relatively small expense to protect the valuable asset of your vacation, and it’s a wise choice on so many fronts. In addition to protecting the value of your personal belongings and your own well-being on the trip, insurance will provide you with travel assistance and reimbursement of additional expenses you might incur due to delay, cancellation or even losing of luggage. Airlines are not required to compensate travelers if delays occur due to weather, so without a travel insurance plan you would be on your own should you need to overnight somewhere, or if you missed the ship.

3. Map out a Plan B. Figure out your next best flight options in case your plane is delayed or canceled. A simple online search at sites like kayak.com will give you a quick snapshot of available flights. That way you can suggest alternatives that you prefer rather than end up at the mercy of a frazzled booking agent.

4. Load up your cellphone with some new phone numbers. In addition to the airline reservation line, include the number of your frequent flyer program if you’re a member. These agents tend to have more experience in looking for creative itineraries at the last minute and may be more helpful than that hard-to-understand agent from the Phillipines. If you booked through a third-party travel site like Orbitz or Expedia, their customer service department may be able to advocate on your behalf.

5. Pack smart. Those with carry-ons are more likely to booked on alternate flights since there’s no need for the airlines to worry about transferring checked luggage. If you do check luggage and a change to your flight occurs, your chance of having the luggage show up with you is significantly decreased. Not to mention…most airlines are charging up to $35 for a bag to check. Save a few bucks and a lot of headaches and carry on if at all possible. Do you really need that specialty shower gel or three sets of heels for a weekend at Grandma’s?

6. Know your rights. Travelers can receive up to $400 if they are involuntarily (or voluntarily) bumped and rebooked on another flight within 2 hours of a domestic and 4 hours of an international flight. They are elibible for up to $800 if they are not re-routed by then.

7. Be polite. Coutesy definitely gets more results than pushiness. Agents are people too and although they may sometimes appear to be ominpotent, stand-off-ish or regimented, they have feelings just like you. You can draw more bees to honey….
Applicable all the time, but especially during the busy holiday travel season, our best advice is summed up as: a little bit of advanced preparation may mean some down time at an airport, but an ON time arrival and the vacation you have been waiting for.
Happy trails (and holidays) to you…..
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