Travel Tips--Airline  tips-- Airline                    Back to Travel

How can I get a better rate on my Airline tickets?

  • Make your reservations as soon as you have decided on travel plans. Airlines give discounts for early bookings at least 21 days in advance. The best rates are often those that include a Saturday night stay and have travel dates during the week.

  • Shopping the Internet can be the quickest and easiest way to compare many different Airlines’ rates to find the best deals.

  • If you can be flexible about when you travel, do so. It can bring big savings. Even changing a flight’s time during the same day can effect the rate. Often the less popular early morning or late evening flights have lower rates.

  • The best rates tend to be found during the off season and at other times when the Airlines are flying at less than capacity.

  • Check into splitting your trip into two roundtrip sections. A stopover at a midpoint could save you over flying a direct route. Although, make sure the saving are large enough to warrant the extra hassles of the stopover.

  • Check into booking your travel plans as a package. You might be able to save by booking your Airline tickets along with your hotel room or rental car.

  • Ask if this is the best rate that they have available when you are booking your reservation.

  • Apply any special discount programs for which you are eligible.

  • When you reach check-in, ask to see if any special upgrade deals are available.

  • Take some time to look for the best rate, a little research can bring big savings. Airline ticket prices vary wildly and you want to be the one that paid $200.00 roundtrip, not the guy in the next seat that paid $600.00.

What types of special discount programs are available?

  • Check for special deals with your membership in associations or clubs.

  • Memberships in premium or loyalty clubs and frequent flyer programs can offer discounts.

  • Some credit cards have special discount agreements with certain Airlines.

  • Package discounts can be found when booking your Airline ticket along with a certain hotel, cruise line, or rental car company.

  • Discounts are available for some age groups, young and old, as well as, students.

  • Discounts are often available for large groups traveling together.

  • Discounts are often available for government, military or corporate employees. Some Airlines will even extend these discounts during leisure travel.

How can I find other businesses that have partnered with my Airline to provide me even greater rewards for using their services?

Check out your Airline’s web site. They should have a list of other businesses they have partnered with that can reward you with bonus points or miles and discounts or other special offers. These other businesses are usually found on your Airline’s web site in a special travel partners section or they can be listed under their membership program section as participants or partners.

How can I beat the best rate flying into my destination?

Check into another destination. You might be able to fly into a nearby neighboring city at a much lower rate. Remember to allow for other costs when you consider this option. You could lose the airport shuttle, and your rental car costs, gas, etc., may change. This might also take a little more travel time.

Should I buy someone else’s frequent flyer awards, vouchers or unused tickets?

No, there are lots of ways you can get burned doing this. Most Airline programs have rules against this activity and you’ll be denied boarding if you are caught. With computer checking systems and rules requiring proper I.D., your chances of getting caught and losing your money are good. Many of these items are also easy to copy or fake and you might just end up the victim of fraud.

How will I know which is the best Airline for me?

If it’s a onetime flight, you can probably see who flies the route for the cheapest rate.  If you are looking for more of a relationship, you’ll want to consider some of the factors listed below:

  • You’ll still want to consider ticket prices.

  • See if you belong to any groups that entitle you a special deal with a particular Airline.

  • Investigate the Airline’s on-time, safety and customer service record.

  • Evaluate frequent flyer programs to see which will allow you to earn free tickets or upgrades the quickest.

  • You might want the Airline with the more lenient luggage policy.

  • Pick an Airline that has strong routes and flight options available for the area where you’ll be doing most of your traveling.

  • Find out what Airline partnerships they have to see if they will provide you further flight options.

  • Find out what other partnerships they have that could save you money in other areas. Many Airlines have agreements with hotel chains, rental cars or credit card companies.

  • Find out which Airline is most willing to help with your special requests.

Where can I find information on an Airline’s on-time, luggage care and customer service record?

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Air Travel Consumer Report web page. This site contains information on flight delays, mishandled baggage, over sales or overbooking of flights, consumer complaints, and disability complaints for the ten largest U.S. Airlines. Each of these sections provides valuable information to assist the traveler in evaluating which major Airline would provide them the best service.

What are the size and weight restrictions for my luggage?

 

  • Since the Airlines’ luggage restrictions are going through a recent period frequent change, you should check directly with your Airline as to size, weight and number of bags that you can check and carry-on.
  • In many cases, the Airlines have added new limits on both carry-on and checked baggage. You should check, but most Airlines limit their carry-on bags to a range of 14" to 16" high, 21" to 24" wide, and 8" to 9" deep. The lower limits are for under seat storage and larger limits for the more generous overhead compartment. A 45" total (height+width+depth) can be used as a basic guideline to see if your bag will be allowed as a carry-on.
  • Most Airlines have a carry-on weight limit of 40 pounds and a checked baggage weight limit of 70 pounds.
  • Some Airlines allow you a larger size and weight for your first bag, but have more restrictive limits for additional bags.
  • Many Airlines’ limits vary if you are taking a domestic or international flight, are flying first, business or coach class or if you are a member of their premium membership clubs.
  • All limits are much more strictly enforced then in the past. Bags are weighed at check-in and many Airlines have placed bag-sizers at their gates. If your carry-on bags are too big, you’ll have to check them and that might cause them to be classified as "extra bags" which usually carries an extra charge. If you bags are too heavy, you can be charged a rather high overweight luggage charge.

How many pieces of luggage can I take with me?

  • Just because you sneaked it on once, don’t always expect to get away with it. More rigorous enforcement of the rules and more and more bag-sizer stations will likely catch you now. This is especially true during the holidays and other peak flying times when the Airlines are watching closely since the planes are full and everyone is trying to sneak lots of stuff on the plane.
  • During periods of high security, you may be required to check items you would normally be allowed to carry onboard the aircraft.
  • Most Airlines allow for a combination of three bags to be divided among your carry-on and checked baggage. You’ll want to check with your specific Airline, since there are differences in their allowance programs. The Airlines also look at some items differently; some will count a laptop or briefcase against your allowance, while others will not.
  • You may be allowed to bring more luggage free of charge if you are traveling on a first or business class ticket or are a member of the Airline’s premium membership club.
  • If you plan on bringing extra luggage, you had better check with the Airline to see if they will allow it on the plane. Even if you are willing to pay an extra fee, they can still refuse your extra luggage if the plane is already full. If you do receive permission to bring the extra luggage, have the person granting the permission note this on your reservation and be sure to get their name.
  • If you are changing Airlines during your trip, you’ll need to take into account the luggage limits for all the Airlines you’ll use. What is acceptable to one Airline may bring an extra charge on another.
  • Check the regulations when making connecting flights in European or other foreign countries. You may be held to more restrictive luggage limits while flying within the area than you did flying into the area.
  • If you are flying on a commuter Airline for any leg of your trip, you’ll need to know their luggage limits. Many commuter Airlines have limited space and only allow carry-on baggage, they also have more restrictive weight limits.

How can I avoid extra charges for my luggage?

  • Know the luggage limits on all the Airlines you’ll use on your trip and try to stay within those limits.

  • Don’t over pack, overweight bags have caused a great many injuries to baggage handlers. To try to discourage people, the Airlines often charge a hefty fee for handling an overweight bag.

  • If you really need the items, then you should check into paying the extra bag fee. It is usually cheaper to divide your items into two bags and pay the extra bag fee than pay one overweight bag charge. You might also avoid the embarrassment of having your luggage explode because they are packed too full.

How can I find out about my Airlines luggage restrictions and limits?

Check out their web site for information.
Go To: Airlines Links

How should I pack the liquids I bring with me?

So your clothes aren’t covered in the liquids, use plastic bottles in your packing. Only fill the bottles to the ¾ mark in case they are crushed or the contents freeze and expand. You also might want to pack them in plastic freezer bags just in case.

How can I avoid damaging my film?

  • High-speed film is the most susceptible to damage, but all your film is at risk.

  • Carrying your film in your checked bags used to be a safer bet, but with stronger bomb detection devices, your film is now more likely to get fried.

  • Buy special carrying cases designed for protecting film.

  • You can ask for a manual inspection in the United States and some foreign airports to avoid the x-rays if you place your film in your carry-on bag.

  • The walkthrough and hand wand security devices shouldn’t effect your film.

  • The safest bet for film is to buy it after you arrive and develop it before you go. This may not be the cheapest route, but it is the best guarantee to keep your memories safe.

What should I do with my valuables?

  • Leave them at home in a safe place if you can.

  • If your luggage has locks, you should use them.

  • Shrink wrapping your luggage will not only protect the outside of your bags, but also the contents inside.

  • Do not carry valuables in your checked luggage, they will be safer in your carry-on bags.

  • If you do place any valuables in your luggage, hide them in the lower sections of the bags so a quick look inside won’t reveal them.

What is the best way to carry my medications?

  • Carry them in your carry-on since it will be less likely to be lost than your checked luggage. Your carry-on will also do less harm to temperature-sensitive medication.

  • Bring along the generic names of your medications since brand names can vary.

  • Carry your medication in their original bottles to help avoid security questions.

  • If you have any questionable drugs or particularly large supplies, you might want to bring a letter from your doctor stating you have a legal right to use these drugs.

  • If you are traveling outside the United States, check to see what you can take with you. Something legal here might be illegal elsewhere. It could get dumped, or you could get dumped in jail.

What should I pack in my carry-on luggage?

  • Since luggage can be lost, your best defense is a well-packed carry-on bag.

  • This is the best place for your travel documents, itinerary and coupons.

  • Your valuables, such as jewelry and electronics, are also safest in your carry-on.

  • Appropriate converter and/or adapter, if you plan on using any electrical devices abroad.

  • Phrase book, if you are traveling into a region with an unfamiliar language.

  • A list of everything in your checked baggage, in case you need to fill out a claim form.

  • Address and phone numbers of friends, relatives and contact phone numbers of your doctor.

  • A copy of your credit card numbers and contact information.

  • A copy of your travelers checks and contact information

  • You should also include a one-night stay package in your carry-on, in other words, everything you’ll need to make it one night in case your bags are delayed or lost.

  • A small umbrella, sweater, change of shoes, extra pair of eyeglasses, camera, film, batteries, first aid kit, moist towelettes.

  • Clothing pins for all those hotel curtains that won’t quite close.

  • You should also pack your medication, especially temperature sensitive medication, in your carry-on keeping your pills in their original bottles to help avoid security questions.

  • It is also best if your carry-on bags are plain. A computer logo may look cool, but it also says " Hey, look everybody I have something really expensive in here. Now watch cause if I only look away for a second, it’s steak dinners on me".

  • Put lots of crisp one-dollar bills in with your other cash. This will come in handy when dealing with all the skycaps, bus drivers and porters.

How can the Airline help with my special needs?

Check the Airline’s policies about traveling with children, pets, extra luggage, meals or other special requests if they apply. Charges for special services will vary between Airlines, so you’ll want to find the best overall deal for you before booking your flight. Airline’s can usually make some special accommodations for your needs if they are aware of them in advance. Special meal requests such as children’s menu, low sodium, kosher, vegetarian, etc. are often available.

What should I do if I need a wheelchair in the airport?

You should notify the Airline in advance. This way they’ll be prepared to help you get one.  Also, be sure to arrive extra early before your flight

How can I pick the best seat in my class?

  • Check to see what type of aircraft is used on your flight. Check the seating arrangement to find the most comfortable seat for you.

  • Book early and make your requests.

  • Join the Airline’s frequent flyer program since sometimes the better seats are reserved for the Airline’s loyalty program membership.

  • Seats next to the wings will provide the smoothest ride.

  • Bulkhead seats will provide more legroom, but sometimes will lack overhead compartments and won’t have any under seat storage in front of them.

  • Parents with small children and babies are sometimes placed in the bulkhead seats to provide extra room to stretch those little lively legs or place a baby bassinet. If you have kids, this might be the place for you, but check with the Airline as baby seats, bassinets, diaper bags etc. usually count against your allowable carry-on bags. If you are traveling with children, they will not be allowed to sit in the emergency exit row.

  • If you fear being seated next to children, you might want to check out the emergency exit row. Emergency exit row seats also have more legroom and often have an overhead compartment, but the seats may not recline. Also, the Airline will ask for your help in opening the emergency exits in the unlikely case of an accident. Some Airlines will not pre-assign the exit seats so you may have to wait until you reach the counter check-in.

  • Be warned that seats immediately in front of the exit row do not recline. Since they have the standard legroom, let the novice traveler enjoy those seats.

  • If you are in a big hurry to get where you are going, request a low number seat since those will be the first off the plane.

What is the difference between nonstop, direct and connecting flights?

  • A nonstop flight flies directly from point A to point B without any stops.

  • A direct flight will fly from point A to point B, but you’ll have at least one if not several stops along the way.

  • To get from point A to point B on a connecting flight, you’ll not only have to stop over along the way, but you will also have to get out and make another flight to finish your journey.

Is the best way to get there with a nonstop, direct or connecting flight?

  • Prices on these three options will vary as to which is the cheapest way to go, so you’ll probably want to evaluate each possibility for cost.

  • The frequent flyer points awarded on these three options can also vary.

  • On a very long trip it might be easier on you to enjoy a short stop over, but this will depend on the length of the trip and the stop over, as well as, personal preferences.

  • Nonstop flights are the quickest and simplest way to get there since you won’t have to deal with any stops or transfers.  Nonstop flights also provide less opportunity for your luggage to be lost.

What does it mean if it states that the ticket is nontransferable?

  • This usually means that the ticket is only to be used by the person whose name is listed on the ticket and cannot be used by anyone else but that person.

  • Policies will vary among types of tickets, so check the Airline’s policy to find out exactly what the term means when it is applied to a particular ticket.

What does it mean if it states that the ticket is nonrefundable?

  • This means that you will not be issued a refund for the amount of the ticket if you don’t use it. Policies can vary, so check the Airline’s policy to find out the exact meaning when it is applied to a particular ticket.

  • Some Airline’s will allow a nonrefundable ticket to be used another time, but there is usually a penalty in the form of a fee to change the original itinerary of the ticket. If you are using a travel consolidator, remember that they can sign agreements with the Airline that will eliminate some of your protections, so in their case nonrefundable may mean use it or loose it.

What happens if I have to cancel my trip?

  • Ask the reservation center about the ticket cancellation policy.

  • Generally, the cheaper the ticket the more restrictions.

  • You might be able to get a refund or use the ticket another time, but all tickets have some restrictions.

  • Make sure you can live with the ticket’s restrictions if there is any chance you’ll be canceling your trip.

  • Cancel your reservation as soon as you are sure you won’t need your ticket, since some Airlines have lesser penalties for an early cancellation.

What happens if I lose my paper ticket?

  • If you are using a paper ticket, you should check all the information printed on the ticket for accuracy and write down the ticket number as soon as you get it.

  • You should notify the Airline at once so they can begin the process of issuing you another ticket. Having written down your ticket number will help simplify this process.

  • The penalty for losing a ticket will depend on the individual Airline’s policy.

  • You might have to pay a replacement ticket fee, which can be quite costly.

  • Other programs require you to purchase a new ticket at the current price rate, which will probably be more expensive since you may no longer be eligible for an advance purchase deals. Then you’ll receive a refund for the original ticket, less a service fee. This refund can take weeks, if not months, so don’t lose your ticket.

Should I use electronic ticketing or e-tickets?

  • You might consider electronic ticketing so you won’t have paper tickets to loose. Some Airlines are beginning to convert to only electronic ticketing. In any case, be sure to get a confirmation number and bring it with you. As always, it never hurts to reconfirm your flight information directly with the Airline, especially if someone else made your reservation.
  • Traveling on an e-ticket may help you to avoid some of the extra and often high charges associated with issuing and delivering a paper ticket.
  • You should check directly with the Airline in advance if you have an electronic ticket because you will need some form of paperwork to make it through the security checkpoint and into the gate areas. The Airline might be able to mail, fax or email any additional paperwork you need or you should be able to pick up the additional paperwork at their check-in counter when you check your luggage.
  • If you are traveling abroad, avoid using electronic ticketing. Along with passport and visas, some countries require you have a paper ticket to get into their country. Even if it’s just to change planes on a connecting flight.
  • Paper tickets still have the advantage that you’ll have something in your hand to prove you have a ticket and this can still come in handy if you are traveling to an area where you might find personnel with fewer computer skills. Paper tickets can also be handy if your flight is cancelled and your Airline offers to book you a seat on another Airline. Although, Airlines are working to improve their computer systems, most Airlines are not yet able to accept e-tickets from other Airlines. Often, you still need to have your airline print you a paper ticket and then endorse it over to another carrier.

What will I need to bring to the airport if I use electronic ticketing?

  • You’ll need to bring your driver’s license or other government issued picture I.D., such as a driver’s license, passport or state I.D. card to prove it is really you.
  • A college I.D., even a state college I.D., may not be acceptable.
  • The name on the ticket must match the name on your I.D. exactly.
  • You’ll also want to bring along your ticket’s confirmation number.
  • You may need to bring the credit card the ticket was charged on for the Airline to swipe through their computer, especially if you bought the ticket directly from the Airline.
  • You should check directly with the Airline in advance if you have an electronic ticket because you will need some form of paperwork to make it through the security checkpoint and into the gate areas. The Airline might be able to mail, fax or email any additional paperwork you need or you should be able to pick up the additional paperwork at their check-in counter when you check your luggage.

What documentation will I need to travel?

  • You must present a government issued photo I.D., such as a driver’s license, passport or state I.D. card when you check-in. A college I.D., even a state college I.D., may not be acceptable. Without the proper I.D., most Airlines won’t allow you to board the plane, even on domestic flights. If you don’t have any of the I.D. listed above, you should call your Airline directly or checkout their web site to see if any alternative I.D. will be acceptable.
  • According to the Federal Aviation Administration, children do not need a government issued photo I.D. for domestic flights as long as an accompanying adult certifies their identity.
  • A valid ticket and the name on that ticket must match the name on the I.D. exactly.
  • Passengers traveling on an e-ticket will need some form of paperwork from the airline in addition to an e-ticket number to be allowed through the security checkpoint.
  • On international flights, you’ll need a passport. The name on that passport must match the name on your ticket exactly. Bring your certified marriage certificate if a recent marriage has changed your name and file for a new passport as soon as possible.
  • Check with the countries that you’ll be visiting to see what types of documentation you’ll need to enter and exit those countries.
  • Remember that all travel documents are ultimately the traveler’s responsibility and the Airline cannot make exceptions to governmental laws.
How can I find out if I will need a passport or visa for my trip?

Go to: Embassy Links

This page contains links to many foreign countries’ Embassies and Consulate Offices located in the United States. Each Embassy’s web site is different, but they all contain contact information and other helpful information for anyone planning on visiting their country.

Do I need to confirm my reservation?

Yes, it never hurts to confirm your reservation directly with the Airline, especially if you depended on someone else to book that reservation. This will give the Airline the opportunity to update to any changes in flight information. Verify all your ticket information, including the spelling of your name. You also want to verify that any special requests are listed on your reservation.

How can I avoid long waits at the airport?

  • Before you leave for the airport, contact the Airline for an update on the flight schedule. It could save you hours of lobby waiting, especially if weather conditions are poor. There are other sources of flight delay information, but checking directly with the Airline should provide you the most accurate information. Be careful to stay updated and still allow yourself plenty of extra time to make it to the airport when the flight is ready. Late flights will mean an even more crowded airport with longer lines everywhere so be sure to arrive early enough to make it onto your flight.
  • Look at the airport’s layout in advance to get an idea of where you are going.
    Go To:
    US Airports & Foreign Airports Links
  • If available to you, consider using curbside or off-airport check-in or electronic ticket kiosks. This way you may be able to avoid the long lines at the counter. Following the hijackings of four commercial passenger jets and the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11 2001, curbside and off-airport check-in were suspended indefinitely at all U.S. airports.
  • Sometimes you just can’t avoid the delays that cause you to wait, so always carry reading material or some other form of entertainment in your carry-on luggage.

What should I do if I call and find out my flight is delayed?

  • If your flight is delayed, get the name of the Airline’s agent and have them note on their computer that you are going to show up for the later flight time. Even if the flight is delayed, they still may recommend that you go to the airport at the normal departure time.
  • Be careful to stay updated and still allow yourself plenty of extra time to make it to the airport when the flight is ready. Late flights will mean an even more crowded airport with longer lines everywhere so be sure to arrive early enough to make it onto your flight.
  • If you think the flight is late, but the Airline won’t confirm this information, go to the airport anyway. You may have to wait, but you don’t want to forfeit your rights to the ticket because you didn’t show up on time.
  • Remember to update your car rental and hotel reservations to let them know you’ll be later then planned. Otherwise, you may find that since you didn’t show up on time someone else has your car and your room.
What arrangements should I make if I’m meeting someone at the airport?

Airports are huge and congested places so you want to take extra care when arranging to meet someone at the airport.

  • Make sure you give them all your flight information so they can stay updated in case your flight is delayed.
  • Ask them not to leave for the airport until they have gotten an update concerning your flight’s status. The Airline will not verify that you are on the plane or that you even bought a ticket to be on the plane, but they will usually update individuals on the arrival time of particular flights.
  • Check out the airport’s web site and share that web address with the person you are meeting. This way you can both see the airport’s layout and identify a good place to meet.
  • Agree on a specific place to meet and be as specific as possible. Agreeing to meet in the passenger pick up area may leave you looking for each other in a huge place. Also, many airports have more than one terminal building and thus they can have several passenger pickup locations.
  • Realize that security may prohibit them from waiting for you in their car at the pick up area and they may need to park or keep driving around until you can meet them.
  • Don’t plan to meet at the gate. Most airports only allow ticketed passengers past security and into the gate area. You might even consider agreeing on a secondary location that is just off the airport property, such as a specific restaurant or hotel, in case security prevents them from making it onto the airport property. Again, the airport’s web site can probably help you locate such a location.
  • Trade cell phone and pager numbers, if you have them, so you can reach each other once you both make it to the airport. You will need to keep your cell phone and pager turned off on the plane, but you can use it once you reach the airport. You might want to call when you are ready to be picked up so they don't have to park or keep driving around until you arrive.

How early should I get to the Airport?

  • Follow the instructions included with your ticket.
  • U.S. Airlines recommend that you should plan on arriving early on both ends of your flight. At least one-hour before departure on domestic and two hours before departure on international flights. Some Airlines recommend arriving even earlier.
  • The tighter security measures adopted after the hijackings of four commercial passenger jets and the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 1,1 2001, mean it will take passengers more time to make it through airport security. These new security measures also brought an end to all curbside and off-airport check-in at U.S. airports causing an increase at check-in counter lines. Because of this, most U.S. Airlines now recommend that passengers arrive at the airport at least two hours before departure on domestic and at least three hours before departure on international flights.
  • Note that most Airlines consider you to have arrived at the airport when you reach the check-in counter area and not just reached the airport property. If you are bringing your car, allow additional time to park the car and reach the terminal building. You should also allow for longer check-in lines during periods of peak travel.
  • The advance arrival time required may vary depending on the airport you use. Some airports handle an incredible volume of traffic and are so physically large that they may require an even earlier arrival time.
  • During peak travel season or periods of heightened security alert, you should contact the Airline directly for instructions concerning your arrival at the airport. Many airlines will have updated information available on their web sites and toll free phone numbers. You might also check out the web site of both your arrival and destination airport. Security measures or other conditions may have changed since your ticket was issued and those changes may make it necessary for you to arrive earlier than originally recommended.
  • Please be aware that Airlines have recommended arrival times and stricter REQUIRED arrival times. All Airlines do REQUIRE that you arrive at the check-in counter, the flight's departure gate and even onboard and in your assigned seat a prescribed amount of time before the flight's scheduled departure time. The amount of the advance arrival time required varies depending on the Airline you are using. Most Airlines' conditions of carriage state that with many of their tickets, failure to arrive at the check-in counter, the flight's departure gate and your assigned seat a prescribed amount of time before the flight's scheduled departure time may cause you to be denied boarding and cause you to forfeit any refund or other compensation due for the unused ticket even if you have advance seat assignments and advance boarding passes.

What are the advantages of getting to the Airport early?

  • Arriving early helps you to get the better seats and make it though security to the gate check-in.

  • Airlines also have minimum time requirements to get your luggage on your flight. Getting there early will mean your luggage will make it on the same flight as you.

  • You have time so you can relax and watch others run through the airport.

  • This could save you from getting bumped on an overbooked flight.

  • Getting to the airport early means you can volunteer to be bumped if you like the Airline’s deal and aren’t in a big hurry. The Airlines offer premiums, such as free travel vouchers, to those who volunteer to be bumped.

  • Arriving late may mean you are bumped whether you like it or not.

What can happen if I don’t make it to the check-in counter by the recommended check-in time?

Know that if you can’t make it by the recommended check-in time, you may not have left enough time to make it through airport security and make it onto the flight. Also, if you are planning on cutting it close, you had better check the Airline’s REQUIRED minimum check-in times. Airlines often require that you arrive at the check-in counter, the flight’s departure gate and even onboard and in your assigned seat a prescribed amount of time before the flight’s scheduled departure time. Arriving later than the required time at any point may make it impossible for you to make your flight.

  • If you don’t make it by the required minimum check-in time, you may not be allowed to board the plane even if your plane has not yet left the gate.
  • Airlines also require a minimum check-in time for your luggage to make it on the same flight. Missing the deadline, and putting your luggage on the next flight, increases the chance that your luggage will be lost.
  • Most Airlines’ conditions of carriage state that with many of their tickets, failure to arrive at the check-in counter, the flight’s departure gate or your assigned seat a prescribed amount of time before the flight’s scheduled departure time may cause you to forfeit any refund or other compensation due for the unused ticket.
  • If you can’t make it by the required check-in time, you probably have no chance of making through airport security in time to get to the gate even if the Airline lets you check in. Security won’t rush you through just because you’re running late. In fact, rushing security officers may make them even more suspicious of you and that could cause you to be even later.
  • These check-in minimums not only vary by Airline, but the same Airline’s minimum can also vary from airport to airport.

What should I do if I’m leaving my car at the airport?

  • Check out the airport’s web site for information about their parking facilities. The sites often contain helpful information about the layout of their parking facilities and the cost of using their various lots. Many sites also include information that you can use to help you decide how much time you’ll need to allow for you to make it into the terminal building after you park.
  • Remove all the valuables from the car before you leave for the airport and leave them at home.
  • If you are traveling with others, see if you can drop them and their luggage at the terminal before you park your car. They can then keep an eye on their luggage while they wait for you to join them in the terminal. This can be especially helpful if you are traveling with lots of luggage or are using the long-term parking lots that are often a long bus ride from the terminal.
  • Write your space and section number down on your return airline ticket’s folder.
  • Many garages recommend taking your parking stub with you to hinder someone trying to steal your vehicle from their lot. If you fear losing the parking stub on your trip, and want to leave it in the vehicle, at least take the time to hide it inside your vehicle.
  • If you are parking under cover, look for a space next to a support, it will reduce your chances for door dings.
  • You might also put some window cleaner and paper towels in your trunk since all that parking lot and Airline exhaust seems to end up on your windows.

How can I save time and hassle at the airport?

  • Look at the airport’s layout in advance to get an idea of where you are going and what services are available. Be sure to review their parking facilities if you’ll be parking your car at the airport.
  • Stay updated on your flight information so you’ll know if your flight is delayed before you arrive at the airport.
  • Use luggage with rollers and pack light.
  • Take steps to protect yourself and your possessions while you are traveling.
  • If available, consider using curbside service to check in your bags, it can save you time. If you use the service before you park your car or return your rental car, it will also save you a lot of carrying.
  • Be aware that curbside check-in can make it easier for you to become separated from your baggage, so you’ll want to follow the guidelines below.
What do I need to know before using curbside check-in?
  • Have your bags clearly labeled and remove old claim tags to avoid confusion.
  • You cannot use curbside check-in if you have an international destination.
  • Before you check your bags, you’ll want to ask if the flight is delayed or cancelled. You might not want to give up your bags yet.
  • Know your three-letter destination’s airport code, see the link listed in the previous question for information. Airport codes aren’t always obvious choices; Orlando International Airport is MCO for McCoy Field. This way you can verify that the correct tag is placed on your bag.
  • Make sure the proper Airline information is placed on your bags, skycaps will often check in bags for several different Airlines.
  • Watch your bags go down the conveyer belt, don’t take the word of a busy skycap that they’ll get right to it. Criminals watch for skycaps that are too busy to guard your bags.
  • Don’t tip a skycap until your bags are on their way.
  • Please be advised that curbside check-in and off-airport check-in may not be available at all airports. Due to the hijackings of four commercial passenger jets and the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, curbside and off-airport check-in were suspended indefinitely at all U.S. airports.

Where can I find information about the airport’s terminal and parking lot layout?

Go To: US Airports & Foreign Airports Links

This page contains web links to many major U.S. and foreign airports. Although, each airport’s site is different many contain airport terminal layouts and features, parking information, flight delays and other items that could save you time and help make your visit a safe one. This links page also lists many airport codes that can be helpful when making Airline reservations so you and your luggage will be heading to the right airport.

Can I get an even better deal at the gate?

  • Yes, check-in can provide an opportunity for a cheap or possibly even free upgrade into a better class. If one of the better classes of seats has room, you might be able to get a real good upgrade deal. Some Airlines wait until boarding before they start the dealing, but ask at check-in. You can find out whom to talk to and you might just get lucky. Here are a few tips to help you into that better seat.

  • Being in their elite member or frequent flyer clubs will help.

  • Producing your membership in another Airline’s elite club and saying "I wanted to give you guys a chance to win my business" could win you that first class seat.

  • Dressing for success. Do you look like you should be in first class?

  • If you are real nice and friendly, you might even be able to get a free upgrade.

Can an Airline refuse to board me if I have a valid ticket?

Yes, you can be refused boarding for many reasons. Here are a few:

  • Failing to present proper I.D., passport or other necessary governmental paperwork to complete your trip.

  • The name on your ticket doesn’t match the name on your I.D.

  • Refusing to allow a search of your luggage or your person.

  • Behaving in an abusive, disorderly or violent manner.

  • Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

  • Refusing to cooperate with any reasonable request made by security or Airline personnel.

How can I decrease the chance of losing my luggage?

  • Get to the airport early so your bags will make it on your flight.

  • Carry on as many bags as the Airline allows.

  • Allow plenty of time between connecting flights so your luggage will be able to transfer on to your next flight.

  • Never leave your luggage unattended; always keep an eye on them.

  • Label your bags clearly with your name, address and telephone number.

  • Keep the paperwork you are given by the Airline when you check your bags so that they will be easier to track if your bags go missing.

  • If your fashion sense can handle it, mark your bags with bright colors by using colored tape. It will be easier to find and criminals know they are more likely to be noticed and remembered carrying out a unique bag.

  • Remove any old flight information tags, they may route your luggage to your last destination.

  • Make sure the new tags placed on your bags are from the correct Airline and they have the proper Airport's destination code on them.

  • You should label both the outside and the inside of your bags, in case the outside tag gets pulled off.

  • You should include the hotel information where you are staying with dates so the bags will have a better chance of finding their way to you.

  • Pay attention to what type of luggage you are carrying so you’ll have a good description of them if they go missing. Medium size black nylon probably describes half the luggage on the plane. Identifying the brand name, size, color, material, and distinguishing marks will help the Airline to locate your luggage.

  • If you are traveling with a friend, you might consider switching some of your items with each other. Putting a few outfits in their bag will give you something to fall back on incase your bags go missing. In exchange, you can offer to carry a few items for them in case their luggage goes missing.

  • Avoid using an Airline that loses or damages lots of luggage.

How can I protect my luggage once I’ve made it to my destination?

  • Once you have arrived, find out where your luggage is being unloaded. It usually takes some time for the luggage to get there, but it might also take a while for you to get there. You don’t need to run, but it is better that you get there and wait for your bags then to have them waiting for you. Remember they come out on a conveyor belt and anyone can come up and get them. How is anyone else in the crowd supposed to know to stop someone because they took your bags?

  • It may not just be criminals, but other passengers who mistake your medium sized black nylon bag for their medium sized black nylon bag and off they go. You want to be able to watch them drop and if they are not there, notify the Airline immediately.

  • Since so many bags do look alike, make sure you check to make sure that the baggage you take is really yours.

  • Check your bags and notify the Airline of any missing or damaged luggage before you leave the airport. This is where making a packing list will come in handy.

  • As you leave the airport, watch your bags until you get to your hotel room. Taxicab waiting lines, rental car counters and hotel or rental car shuttle vans and even hotel lobbies are all good places to loose your bags.

  • Don’t assume the drivers will unload all your bags, they may be hurrying right back to the airport.

  • Don’t assume that if you just leave them in the hotel’s lobby that someone will bring them to your room.

  • Rental car shuttle vans often have several drop off points and another customer might accidentally grab your bags and be out the gate before you even realize your bags are gone.

What should I do if my luggage is lost or delayed?

  • Make a claim before you leave the airport; some claims will only be honored if they are made before you leave airport property.

  • Leave a good description of your luggage; it will help the Airline to locate your luggage.

  • Leave complete contact information and itinerary for both your home and where you are currently staying.

  • Notify those where you are staying of your situation to make them aware for phone calls or deliveries.

  • Find out whom you should call and when they’ll be available for updates on your luggage. Some Airlines are beginning to offer an online tracking service that you can access if your bags are lost.

  • Find out the Airline’s policy about missing luggage. The Airlines will have a policy in writing that they can provide to you. You want to know what will happen if you buy replacement items and your luggage is found the next day.

How can I avoid damage to my luggage?

  • Remove any shoulder straps; pull handles, or other loose elements that could get caught on a conveyor belt.

  • Buy luggage with only retractable wheels.

  • Consider using a shrink wrap service for your luggage if your airport has one.

  • If your bags have locks, use them, but better yet avoid putting anything of real value in your checked bags.

  • Avoid using an Airline that loses or damages lots of baggage.

What will the Airline do if they have damaged or cannot find my luggage?

  • It depends on the particular Airline, but almost all Airlines currently set their liability maximum at only $1250.00 USD per paid passenger fare on domestic flights.

  • Particularly valuable items such as jewelry, cash or electronics and fragile or perishable items are usually not covered at all.

  • You may also need to provide receipts for the items lost.

  • The value of the items will also be depreciated so don’t expect to get replacement value.

  • International flights base the value of your luggage on weight so make sure the weight of your luggage is noted at check-in. If your luggage is not weighted, they generally assume a weight of 70 pounds.

How can I get a better reimbursement for lost luggage?

  • Purchase travel insurance.

  • Declare and pay for a higher valuation of your luggage.

  • Check to see if you have any coverage under your homeowner’s policy.

  • Check to see if any of your credit cards offer coverage for your luggage.

  • Keep the receipts for items you brought with you.

  • Keep the receipts for any replacement items you purchased while your luggage was missing.

  • Make packing list and leave a copy in a safe place at home. This will not only help you to organize and remember all the essentials, while cutting down on the fluff, but it will also help you make out a claim form if your luggage goes missing.

  • Make a claim before you leave the airport; they may not honor a claim made after you leave the airport property.

  • Appeal to the Airline’s customer service department for help with the claim since this issue may effect your future use of the Airline’s services.

What types of items are forbidden by security to be carried on the plane?

Some things can only be checked while others can only be shipped via air cargo. Check with the Airline if you think you’re bringing something questionable, you’ll need to follow their guidelines. Some items may get you in serious trouble with airport security and under federal law, you must declare any hazardous materials you are carrying or shipping to the airline. Violations can carry a huge fines and prison time.

  • You should bring that laptop on board as a carry-on, but make sure the batteries are good. You may have to demonstrate that electronic items such as laptops and video cameras are what they look like by showing that they work. Hence the need for good batteries. Any electronic devices that aren’t in working order will look suspicious to security. Security screenings are supposed to leave computers unharmed, but you might ask for a manual inspection.
  • Remember that mace key chain that makes you feel so safe? Sorry, it’s not going anywhere.
  • Neither is that really nice lighter with the lighter fluid reservoir.
  • Knives or cutting instruments of any kind are not allowed in any carry-on baggage. Even corkscrews, nail files, cutters and razors have been confiscated by security so you should put these items in your checked luggage.
  • Anything that could be used as a weapon or is an incendiary device won’t be allowed on the plane.
  • Don’t travel with wrapped packages because they will probably be opened, wrap them after you arrive.
  • Don’t tell little Johnny he can carry that souvenir pioneers’ musket on the plane because it is obviously a fake gun, he can’t. It also has to be checked, all the way back at the check-in counter. You know the one with the long lines. If you think he’ll cry too much when you take it away, imagine his face when it comes off the conveyor belt half destroyed because you didn’t pack it your checked bags like you should have.
  • Any item from a list of hazardous materials published by the Airline. These lists can include many common household items that become hazardous when transported by air.
What types of items are considered to be hazardous materials by the Airlines?

Some items may be obvious, but you may also find some surprises. During flight, changes in temperature and pressure can cause items to leak, generate toxic fumes or start a fire so many common household items can become hazardous materials when transported by air. You should contact your Airline directly if you think you’re bringing something questionable for any additional limits that may apply. Under federal law, you must declare any hazardous materials you are carrying or shipping to the Airline. Violations can carry a huge fines and prison time. This list is not all-inclusive and the Airlines are allowed to develop their own restrictions, which may be even more limiting than the requirements of the Federal Aviation Administration.

  • Flammable liquids such as fuel, paints, paint-thinners/cleaners, lighter fluid, butane fuel including curling iron refills and lighters with flammable liquid reservoirs.
  • Flammable solids such as "strike-anywhere" matches, fireworks, signal flares, sparklers, ammunition, gunpowder and other explosives.
  • Bleach, drain cleaners, solvents, corrosives and oxidizers.
  • Pressurized containers such as spray cans (hair spray, deodorant or repellents).
  • Recreational items such as scuba tanks, propane tanks, CO2 cartridges, self-inflating rafts and camping equipment with fuel.
  • Dry ice, gas-powered tools, wet-cell batteries, oxygen tanks, radioactive materials, poisons and infectious substances.
  • Any item that could be used as a weapon including but not limited to firearms, mace, tear gas, pepper spray, knifes, cutting instruments.
Are there any exceptions that allow certain hazardous material to be transported on the aircraft?

Yes. There are certain exceptions and guidelines for some personal care, medical needs, sporting equipment, and items to support physically challenged passengers so you should contact the Airline for their exact policies concerning these types of items and any extra fees that may apply.

  • Certain unloaded real guns may be allowed in only checked baggage, if the guns are locked inside protective cases. You should contact the Airline for their guidelines on shipping a gun in your checked baggage. You should also check for laws about carrying your gun to the airport and into your destination. Boxed small arms ammunition for personal use may be transported in checked luggage, but you should check since allowable amounts may vary depending on the Airline.
  • Some personal hygiene items such as perfume that contain hazardous materials may be allowed to be carried on board, but they are often limited to no more than 16 oz per container and no more than 70 ounces total.
  • Dry Ice, usually 4 lbs. or less, for packing perishables may be carried on board an aircraft provided the package is vented.
  • You may be allowed to bring a scuba tank that has been drained to a low amount of psi compression.
  • Electric wheelchairs may be able to be accommodated on board, but the battery may need to be disconnected, removed, and the terminals insulated to prevent short circuits.
  • Many Airlines provide supplemental (medical) oxygen with documentation of medical need and advance notice for in-flight use only, but most do not provide oxygen for use at ground locations.
Why does everyone make such a big deal about me keeping an eye on my luggage?
  • Many bags are similar and someone else could accidentally pick up your bag thinking it is their own.
  • There are professional thieves working most airports and a turned head is all that is needed.
  • Someone could use your bags to smuggle something illegal.
  • Someone could place a terrorist device in your luggage.
  • For everyone’s security, you’ll be asked if you packed you own bags or if you left those bags unattended at anytime. If you left your bags unattended and then try to put them on the plane, security will certainly take the time to search your bags.
  • Security can, in the interest of safety, even refuse to allow your bags on the plane.
Why do they bother to ask questions about your luggage, wouldn’t a terrorist just lie?

When you check-in, you are often asked questions such as: Did you pack your own luggage? Did you leave your luggage unattended at anytime? Has anyone asked you to carry items on this flight? Are you carrying any hazardous materials? They ask these questions to help keep everyone safe. Obviously, since anyone could just lie, the questions alone won't catch someone who has planned to bring something dangerous on the plane. The questions are meant to find dangerous items that have been placed with innocent travelers. If you (or someone close to you husband/wife) packed your bags, you have always had an eye on them and have not accepted any items from strangers to carry with you, then it's much less likely that your bags are carrying dangerous materials.

Should I admit it if I only left my luggage unattended for a few seconds?

Yes. It is important to think carefully about security’s questions and answer honestly. It could save your life and the lives of others. If you did leave your luggage unattended or even if you just looked away for a few seconds, then someone could have placed something dangerous to the safety of the plane inside your bags. If someone asked you to transport something on the plane, then that something could be dangerous or forbidden, such as a bomb, weapon or smuggler's contraband. For your own, as well as other's safety, you should never leave your luggage unattended or accept items from strangers. Honesty is important here. If you did happen to leave your luggage unattended, admitting that you did shouldn't mean that they wouldn’t check your luggage. They will just normally do a more extensive security check on your bags and since you'll be on the plane you’ll want to make sure they do.

How can I help airport security to do their jobs?

So I told a bad joke, what could happen?

Security checkpoints are strict, which is what keeps us safe. Safety is no joking matter at the airport and it is no place for bad jokes.

What actions did the Federal Aviation Administration take to protect air travelers after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001?

What new airport security measures were put into place after the hijackings and terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon?

Who are Federal Air Marshals?

Federal Air Marshals are the Federal Aviation Administration’s civil aviation security specialists who are specially trained for deployment on anti-hijacking missions. These Federal Air Marshals have only recently been deployed on international flights, but will now be covering domestic flights. Federal Air Marshals are armed and trained in the use of firearms on board aircraft. The Marshals carry weapons and fly undercover and anonymously. The FAA will not reveal identities of the Marshals or the number of Marshals in their service for security reasons.

Have any additional security measures been taken by individual Airlines since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001?

Every Airline is different so you should check with your airline if you are concerned about any of the issues listed below.

What additional security measures are under consideration for the future?

The U.S. Department of Transportation has formed two new commitees that will focus on air travel security. One commitee will focus on airport security while the other will focus on Airline security issues. At this point, they are open to consider any improvements in air travel safety. Here are some of the issues that have already been mentioned for review.

Will airport security allow me to meet an arriving passenger at the gate?

Only passengers with a ticket for travel on that particular day will be allowed beyond the security checkpoint and into the gate areas. Airlines are making provisions for persons with disabilities, those who need to be accompanied by healthcare assistants or parents who need to meet unaccompanied minors. If your situation falls into one of the previous categories, you should contact the Airline directly for details on special assistance. All others should make plans to meet arriving passengers outside of the security checkpoints.

How can I make it through the security checkpoint if I only have an electronic ticket (e-ticket)?

Only ticketed passengers with a government issued photo I.D. will be allowed beyond the security checkpoint. Within certain guidelines, the Federal Aviation Administration allows airlines to determine what ticket documentation (paper ticket, boarding pass, reservation confirmation, airline or travel agency generated itinerary or receipt for an electronic ticket) their screeners will allow which means you might find some variance in procedures. You should check directly with the airline in advance if you have an electronic ticket because you will need some form of paperwork to make it through the security checkpoint and into the gate areas. The airline might be able to mail, fax or email any additional paperwork you need or you should be able to pick up the additional paperwork at their check-in counter when you check your luggage. No matter what paperwork is required, it must indicate a flight departure for the current date to allow you to pass through the security checkpoint.

How can I avoid being the victim of a crime at the airport?

Don’t let your guard down just because you are away on vacation. Stay aware of those in your party, your luggage and your surroundings.

  • Take a look at the airport’s web site so you’ll know where you’re going.
  • Help airport security do their job and fully cooperate with any requests.
  • Immediately report any suspicious activity to airport security.
  • Leave your valuables, flashy jewelry and designer luggage at home. These items will make you more attractive to criminals.
  • Don’t walk around with your Airline tickets hanging out of your pocket.
  • Walk with confidence. Strong body language will let criminals know that you are not a victim.
  • Only use taxis and other transportation services with official markings. Only select transportation services from the official pick-up points at the airport.
  • Approach any "special deals" with caution, especially if you have to go off the beaten path to get them.
  • Never accept gifts or packages from unknown parties.
  • Don’t go near abandoned bags, and immediately report them to security.
  • Never leave your luggage unattended and always keep an eye on them, just lying by your feet will not be enough to keep them safe. Carry-on bags are often stolen from under tables right in front of their owners. If you must set your luggage on the ground, consider hooking your leg through the carrying strap.
  • If your luggage has locks, be sure to use them. Keep the keys handy in case your luggage needs to be inspected.
  • Mark your luggage so it can easily be identified as yours. Use something that makes your bags unique, but avoid items that could be caught on a conveyor belt. Colorful tape works nicely.
  • Don’t delay picking up your luggage when you arrive or you may find it has already disappeared when you get there.

How can I avoid being the victim of a pickpocket?

  • Don’t travel in narrow alleys or poorly lit streets.

  • When possible, avoid having crowds of people surrounding you.

  • Carry a dummy wallet and put your money in your front pocket.

  • Place a rubber band around your wallet, it will make it much more difficult to remove from your pocket without your knowledge.

  • Carry your purse under your arm.

  • Carry your money under your clothes.

  • Know the pickpocket's tricks

What are some of the pickpocket’s tricks?

  • There are lots of situations that pickpockets use to create opportunities to relieve you of all that heavy cash. Be especially aware of your money when you find yourself in the following situations.

  • Getting bumped by someone else.

  • Having something spilled on you or someone pointing out a spot on your clothing.

  • Someone approaching you and asking for help or directions.

  • Someone causing a disturbance that draws everyone’s attention.

  • Being surrounded by a crowd, especially if you are surrounded by groups of children.

What do I need to know before I use the airport’s public phones or ATMs?

  • Take care when using public phones and ATMs.

  • Make sure to completely cover the numbers you enter on both these items since criminals can use the numbers to defraud you. They might not be over your shoulder, but across the street in the parking garage with binoculars. Public phones are targeted at airports because so many valuable calling card numbers are used.

  • The airport’s ATM will probably be more secure than the local gas station or outside a closed bank branch because of all the airport security around, but if an ATM is isolated or not well lit, you might want to find another one.

  • Be wary of anyone hanging around the ATM.

  • Don’t take the time to count your cash there, the exposure might encourage someone to follow you outside or into the restroom.

  • Take your receipt, it also has numbers that can help a criminal, especially if they just watched you enter your pin number.

How can I find out if the airport terminal has an ATM?

Use these ATM locators.

www.visa.com/pd/atm/main.html

Visa’s ATM locator web page. This site provides a searchable database that locates ATM’s belonging to the Visa, Visa Electron and Plus ATM network worldwide.

www.mastercard.com/atm/

  • MasterCard’s ATM locator web page. This site provides a searchable database that locates

  • ATM’s belonging to the MasterCard and Cirrus ATM network worldwide.

What are some of the airport scams I need to know about?

  • You want to make it through the security checkpoint quickly and avoid delays. One scam involves delaying you at the start of security while your valuables move on down the conveyer belt. The person in front of you might set off the alarm and delay you while they take time getting cleared. This delay gives their partner in crime enough time to steal your items, so keep an eye on your property as it moves through security. Wait until the line is clear in front of you before you release your bags onto the conveyor belt and watch that it does go though and stays there if you are delayed at the checkpoint.

  • That person that so desperately seems to need your help for directions may just be trying to distract you while someone else helps themselves to your valuables. You still may want to be helpful, but remember to stay aware of your surroundings.

  • If someone bumps into you, check to make sure they didn’t remove anything. They might have cut your purse strings, taken your wallet or Airline tickets.

  • Watch your bags closely in the restroom. They may not even be safe in the stalls. If you place them on the floor next to the door or on the coat hook, a thief might reach under or over the door, grab them and run. You will not be in the best position to give them an immediate chase and probably won’t even see their face. If your bags aren’t uniquely marked, they will be able to blend into the crowd and be gone by the time you make it out. Some airports provide a shelf in the stall, if it is there be sure to use it. If you have a choice, pick the stall next to the wall and place luggage between you and the wall.

  • As always, if someone approaches you with a deal that sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Approach any such deals with a great deal of caution.

What do I do if I am a victim of a crime at the airport?

If you are a victim of a crime in an airport, note the time and the location and notify security immediately. Noting the time and location may help investigate the crime since many airports have extensive security camera coverage.

What does getting bumped mean?

"Getting bumped" is the common term most people use when they are denied boarding on a flight because there is no room for them on the plane even though they have a reservation. The Airlines often "overbook" and sell more than 100% of a particular flight’s seats because they know that some of the people with reservations won’t show up for the flight. Sometimes everyone does show up and this means that there won’t be enough seats to go around and someone must be left behind. Those left behind have been "bumped" from the flight and will have to take a later flight.

What is the difference between voluntary and involuntary bumping?

You may think this is too obvious, but with voluntary bumping you choose to give up your seat on your flight for some form of compensation (usually travel vouchers or cash) and with involuntary bumping you are forced to give up your seat. However, there is another very important difference between these two types of bumping. Those that are involuntarily bumped are protected under specific Federal Aviation Administration guidelines that spell out the minimum amount of compensation and other protection for passengers that are involuntarily bumped. If you volunteer to be bumped, you are simply agreeing to take a deal from the Airline. This "deal" is not regulated and will depend on upon the Airline’s gate attendants and your negotiation skills.

 

What happens to my checked luggage if I get bumped?

It may fly ahead on the plane you were supposed to take. Even though they’ll probably promise to keep it for you at your destination airport until you catch up, you might want to consider keeping your luggage with you, especially if you are unsure on when you will be making it to that destination. You will at least want to confirm that they are making arrangements to protect your luggage at your destination. If it’s already loaded on the plane, but the plane hasn’t left, see if the luggage can be taken off the plane and returned to you. Although, you might not want to get stuck watching your luggage while you wait for another flight, allowing your luggage to travel ahead can increase the chance it will disappear. You may also need the items in your luggage if you can’t make it on another flight and you get stuck with an unexpected overnight stay.

 

How can I avoid being bumped?

  • Avoid using an Airline that oversells too much and ends up bumping many of its passengers.
  • Keep up with the news and see if your Airline is facing any upcoming labor negotiations. If they are in negotiation near the time you are planning your trip, you might want to use another Airline in case yours has a work stoppage or slowdown.
  • Check the weather conditions that are common along your route to see if you can plan your trip to avoid periods when foul weather causes delayed and cancelled flights. Delayed and especially cancelled flights will fill up other flights and that can cause the need for an Airline to bump passengers.
  • Avoid peak travel times.
  • Fly nonstop or with the least amount of connections possible. Each time you land and take off, you increase your chances to get bumped. If you do have to include connecting flights, try to make them at the least congested airports. Limiting your stops will also help you to avoid the possibility of a misconnection.
  • Consider flying earlier in the day so you’ll have more options remaining through out the day to complete your trip if you do get bumped.
  • Avoid booking the last flight of the day. This is especially important on peak flight days when many flights end up being overbooked. Often, fewer people are willing to volunteer to be bumped from the last flight of the day since they will have to end up waiting until the next morning to leave. Since this increases your chances of being involuntarily bumped, plan on arriving to the last flight of the day even earlier than you would for other flights. Also, note that many Airlines have a policy against paying for a hotel stay at your flight’s origin if you are delayed overnight.
  • Don’t buy standby or open tickets to travel during peak travel times.
  • If you fear you may get bumped, consider using a paper ticket over an electronic ticket. If you need to transfer to another Airline to continue your trip, a paper ticket can save you time. Most Airlines are not yet able to transfer passengers flying on e-tickets without first taking the time to switch them to a paper ticket.
  • Try to get a seat assignment when you book your flight.
  • Confirm your reservation and verify that the Airline has all the correct information.
  • It’s not the cheapest way to go, but flying first class, full fare or business class will get you a better shot at seats, especially among the last to arrive.
  • Join an Airline’s elite member club or frequent flyer programs.
  • Arrive early and confirm your seat assignment since the latest to get there will be the most likely to be left out.
  • Ask about the flight when you check your luggage. If the flight is overbooked, go directly to the gate. Just having checked in, won’t always guarantee you a seat.
  • Board when your row is called. If you delay, they might think your seat is open and board a standby passenger in your place.

Where can I find information on how often an Airline overbooks and has to bump passengers?

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Air Travel Consumer Report web page. This site contains information on flight delays, mishandled baggage, over sales or overbooking of flights, consumer complaints, and disability complaints for the ten largest U.S. Airlines. Each of these sections provides valuable information to assist the traveler in evaluating which major Airline would provide them the best service.

What should I know before I volunteer to be bumped?

If you do volunteer, you will be stuck with whatever deal you accept. If something is not part of the deal, don’t expect to get it even if it turns out you need it later. You’ll want to know all the details of the Airline’s offer before you agree to accept their deal.

 

  • Is a seat on their next flight guaranteed and confirmed and when is that flight scheduled? Remember, if you agree to fly on standby you could end up getting stranded.
  • What will happen if it turns out you won’t be able to find me a seat on the next flight or that flight is delayed or cancelled?
  • What will happen to my checked luggage?
  • What type of consideration is available if I volunteer to be bumped?
  • What limitations are there on the free ticket or travel voucher? When will they expire, are there blackout dates, can they be used for international travel and can I make a regular reservation for their use? Are there minimum or maximum stay requirements? Are the vouchers good for only a certain class of tickets?
  • What happens if you can’t get me on a flight today and I have to spend the night? Will you pay for a hotel stay and transportation to that hotel?
  • Is a meal voucher, long distance phone credit or hotel voucher available for my delay? What are the restrictions on those items?
  • Are there any other premiums available such as entrance into their airport club lounge while I wait or headset vouchers?

What should I do if I am involuntarily bumped?

If you are involuntarily bumped, work with the Airline’s counter personnel to book you on another flight. Being nice and working with the agent will often bring much better results than losing your temper. You can let them know you are upset without turning your anger toward them. Know that there are written guidelines, some of which are required by the Federal Aviation Administration, that protect passengers who have been involuntarily denied boarding.

  • Ask to be protected under the Airline’s own written rules in the ticket’s conditions or contract of carriage for dealing with bumped passengers so you are given all the consideration you are legally due. This section of the contract is often called "Rule 245", but no matter what it is called, they will have a section that specifically spells out what action they must take to help you continue your trip and what compensation you are due, if any. The U.S. Department of Transportation mandates that a copy of this contract be available to passengers at the Airline’s ticket counter. Many Airlines also provide this information on their web sites so you might print it off and take it with you in case you need it.
  • Make sure the Airline has first asked for volunteers to be bumped. They are required to at least ask for volunteers. Although, there are no specific guidelines for the offers they make, they should offer compensation of some form to encourage volunteers before they deny you a seat.
  • See if others in your party belong to any premium clubs that will help to get you special consideration.
  • If you checked luggage to go on the flight from which you were bumped, take measures to protect that luggage.
  • See if they can guarantee you a seat on another flight.
  • See if your Airline is willing to find you a seat on another Airline. Although, their contract may allow them some time to first find you a flight on their own Airline, most state that when they fail to do so, they will try to find you a seat with another Airline. Know that many Airlines limit your potential choices of other Airlines only to certain Airlines that have existing agreements with your Airline. Your option probably won’t be to find any other flight at the airport that works. It will be to find another flight from a list of specific Airlines.
  • The Airline’s contract of carriage may state that, if you so choose, you are entitled to an involuntary refund for any unused portion of your ticket, even if you purchased a nonrefundable ticket.
  • This contract also specifies what, if any, other compensation you are due because you were involuntarily denied boarding of the flight. Some of this compensation is regulated under Federal Aviation Administration guidelines. The compensation due will usually vary depending on the reason you were denied boarding and how time much you were delayed. The compensation guidelines for U.S. domestic flights also vary from flights with an international portion. You may be entitled to vouchers for meals, overnight stays, long distance phone calls, and/or ground transportation in addition to travel vouchers or monetary rewards.
  • Keep all receipts for expenses caused by being involuntarily bumped. No matter what their rules say, you can always make an appeal to the Airline’s customer service department and you’ll want the receipts to back you up. Send your Airline copies of the receipts and keep the original receipts.
  • If it looks like lots of people are going to be stuck for a long time, consider booking a hotel room and/or a rental car before everyone else grabs them all. Under certain situations, some Airlines provide vouchers for hotel rooms and ground transportation so you should check with them before making your own arrangements. You may also be entitled to meal vouchers and other perks.
  • Update any future reservations with Airlines, hotels or rental cars that will be effected by your delay.
 
If I get involuntarily bumped, will I be compensated no matter what?

No, you may think that being bumped will automatically get you money, complimentary meals and a free hotel stay, but that’s not always true. There are several situations where Airlines are not required to compensate you in any manner if you are bumped, even if you are involuntarily bumped. In some situations, you might even be forfeiting your right to a refund of your unused ticket. However, in many situations, if you did everything right, the Federal Aviation Administration does require that the Airline provide some compensation to passengers that have been involuntarily denied boarding.

 
What are some of the reasons I might be denied compensation if I am involuntarily bumped?

There are several situations where Airlines are not required to compensate you in any manner if you are bumped, even if you are involuntarily bumped. In some situations, you might even be forfeiting your right to a refund of your unused ticket. You may be denied compensation if:

  • You acquired the ticket in violation of the Airline’s rules, regulations or any tariffs or applicable law.
  • You failed to fully comply with the Airline’s ticketing requirements. There are many requirements that can apply, such as, completing the purchase within a specified time after making your reservation.
  • You failed to fully comply with the Airline’s reconfirmation requirements.
  • You don’t have a confirmed reservation. You should check for an "OK" in the status box of your ticket so even if the Airline can't find your reservation in the computer you’ll still be o.k.
  • You cancelled your reservation or changed your itinerary along the way and failed to notify the Airline, which resulted in automatic cancellation of your entire itinerary.
  • Most Airlines’ conditions of carriage state that with many of their tickets, failure to arrive at the check-in counter, the flight’s departure gate or your assigned seat a prescribed amount of time before the flight’s scheduled departure time may cause you to forfeit any refund or other compensation due for the unused ticket, even if you have an advance seat assignment and advance boarding pass.
  • You are refused boarding because you are unable to present proper government issued photo I.D., are unruly, drunk, fail to cooperate with security or exhibit any other behavior or take any action covered under the Airline’s "right to refuse carriage" policy.
  • The flight was canceled. Guidelines for cancelled flights are handled under a separate section of the Airlines’ contract of carriage.
  • A smaller aircraft was substituted for safety or operation reasons.
  • The Airline finds you a seat on another flight that is scheduled to arrive at your final destination (including later connections) within one hour of your originally scheduled arrival time.
  • You are put in another section of the aircraft for no additional charge.
  • The flight involves an airplane with 60 or fewer seats.
  • The flight is on a chartered aircraft.
  • The flight from which you are bumped is an inbound international flight to the United States or the whole flight takes place outside the United States. Flights outside the United States are not required to meet F.A.A. requirements. You should check with your Airline for its guidelines concerning involuntary bumping on non-U.S. flights.
 
What types of compensation will I receive if I did everything right and still get involuntarily bumped?

The Federal Aviation Administration does have minimum requirements for compensation if you are involuntarily bumped, but these minimums may not cover all of the costs of your delay. Many other items, such as, hotel stays, meals, and ground transportation may be left up to the Airline’s condition of carriage and your negotiation skills. Many Airlines provide this information on their web sites so you might consider printing it off and taking it with you. The U.S. Department of Transportation also mandates that a copy of this contract must be made available to passengers at the Airline’s ticket counter. Know that compensation for delay will vary depending on the amount of time you were delayed, the type of flight you take and possibly even the class of ticket you hold.

  • If the Airline finds you a seat on another flight that is scheduled to arrive at your final destination (including later connections) within one hour of your originally scheduled arrival time, you are not entitled to any compensation.
  • If the Airline finds you a seat on another flight that is scheduled to arrive at your final destination (including later connections) between one and two hours after your originally scheduled arrival time on domestic flights or between one and four hours on international flights, you are entitled to an amount equal to the fare you paid, (for that portion of the trip) with a maximum amount of $200.
  • If the Airline finds you a seat on another flight that is scheduled to arrive at your final destination (including later connections) more than two hours late domestically or four hours late internationally, you are entitled to twice the amount of the fare you paid, (for that portion of the trip) with a maximum amount of $400.
  • If the Airline fails to make any substitute travel arrangements for you, you are entitled to twice the amount of the fare you paid, (for that portion of the trip) with a maximum amount of $400.
  • Most Airlines will try, and they are allowed, to first offer you a travel voucher for future flights in at least the amount required. However, you do have the right to insist on a check for that amount of money if you do not want a travel voucher. You might be able to negotiate a higher amount if you are willing to accept a travel voucher over a check. However, be sure to review the terms of use of the travel voucher before you accept their offer, just as you would if you were volunteering to be bumped.
  • In addition to the above compensation, you are always entitled to keep your original ticket and use it on another flight to continue your trip or request an "involuntary refund" for the portion of the ticket from which you were involuntarily denied boarding. The denied boarding compensation is in addition to the value of the ticket and is a payment for your inconvenience. The denied boarding compensation is not a refund for the ticket.
  • It’s always a good idea to pay for your plane ticket with a credit card. It usually makes it easier and quicker for you to get your refund and, if the Airline gives you hard time about refunding your unused ticket, you can ask your credit card company about the possibility of a charge back.
  • The Federal Aviation Administration requires Airlines to issue you a check or paid travel vouchers immediately.
 

Can I get more compensation than the minimum amount required by the Federal Aviation Administration?

Maybe. Depending on your particular circumstances, you may be entitled to additional compensation. Some Airlines do provide other types of compensation to cover some of your costs for being delayed. The Airline’s own written rules in the ticket’s conditions or contract of carriage specifically spell out what action they must take to help you continue your trip and what minimum compensation you are due, if any. Items, such as, hotel stays, meals, long distance phone calls, ground transportation and any other perks are left up to the Airline’s condition of carriage and your negotiation skills. Also, remember that it never hurts to ask for more than the minimum amounts listed in their written rules. Even though, your Airline may not be required to give you all the compensation you feel you are due, they still may provide you with something extra to keep you a happy customer.

 
What options do I have if I feel the Airline's counter personnel are not offering me enough compensation for being involuntarily bumped?
  • First, look at their conditions of carriage to make sure they are at least giving you all the compensation you are due under their own rules and don’t forget it never hurts to ask for more.
  • If you feel the amount of compensation the Airline is offering doesn’t fully cover your losses for being bumpe, you can try to negotiate a higher settlement directly with their customer service department. However, first make sure you are clear on the Airline’s procedures for negotiating additional compensation. Often, you have at most 30 days from the date on the check to decide if you want to accept the amount of the check. Once the deadline expires, you cash the check or use their travel voucher; you will probably lose the right to later demand any further compensation from the Airline.
  • You always have the right to decline the Airline’s offer and take them to court and sue for more compensation. However, unless you have verifiable, definite costs that could be fully documented and were solely, directly and unavoidably caused by being involuntarily bumped, you probably won’t have much of a chance in court. Courts have traditionally upheld the amount of compensation required under Federal Aviation Administration guidelines and any additional compensation stated in the Airline’s contract of carriage so suing can be risky and costly, particularly if your only complaint is inconvenience or lost time. If you do have a special situation where you could show that being involuntarily bumped will cause you a financial loss far above their offer and you think this would make a good court case you should notify the Airline of your situation when you are denied boarding. Your situation might encourage them to increase their offer to other passengers so someone else will volunteer to be bumped in your place.

How can I avoid flight delays?

  • Research the Airlines’ on-time ratings and use the Airline with the best rating.
  • Keep up with the news and see if your Airline is facing any upcoming labor negotiations. If they are in negotiation near the time you are planning your trip, you might want to use another Airline in case yours has a work stoppage or slowdown.
  • Avoid peak travel time.
  • Check the weather conditions that are common along your route to see if you can plan your trip to avoid periods when foul weather causes delays.
  • Fly nonstop or with the least amount of connections possible. Each time you land and take off you increase your chances to encounter delays.
  • Take early morning flights. Early flights are less likely to be delayed and if they are delayed you’ll have more options remaining through out the day to complete your trip.
  • Avoid the last flight of the day since a delay might force an overnight stay.
  • If you fear you’ll suffer from a flight delay, consider using a paper ticket over an electronic ticket. If you need to transfer to another Airline to continue your trip, a paper ticket can save you time. Most Airlines are not yet able to transfer passengers flying on e-tickets without first taking the time to switch them to a paper ticket.

Where can I find information on which Airline and/or flight has the best chance of arriving on time?

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s On-time statistics expanded database query web page. This site contains a huge database of information on the on-time statistics of major U.S. Airlines. You can focus your search in any number of time periods and research particular Airlines, airports, time of day or day of the week. Want to know if your particular flight has had more delays on its Monday or Tuesday morning departure? Want to know which Airline has the least amount of delays for flights scheduled to depart from your home airport before 10 a.m. and arrive at your favorite destination? Complete the questionnaire on the page and get your answer immediately.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Air Travel Consumer Report web page. This site contains information on flight delays, mishandled baggage, over sales or overbooking of flights, consumer complaints, and disability complaints for the ten largest U.S. Airlines. Each of these sections provides valuable information to assist the traveler in evaluating which major Airline would provide them the best service.

What should I do if my flight is delayed or cancelled?

 

  • If your flight is delayed or cancelled, work with the Airline’s counter personnel to book you on another flight. Being nice and working with the agent will often bring much better results than losing your temper.
  • If there is a line at the counter, call the Airline’s reservation center directly to book another flight instead of waiting in line for the few people available to help. See if they can guarantee you a seat on another flight.
  • If you have another person traveling with you, spread out with one in line and the other on the phone. Try to stay within eyesight of each other in case one of you needs to wave the other one over. If you have a cell phone, call the Airline while you’re standing in line and see who can help you first.
  • See if others in your party belong to any premium clubs that will help to get you special consideration.
  • Ask to be protected under the Airline's own written rules in the ticket's conditions or contract of carriage for dealing with missed connections, delayed and cancelled flights so you are given all the consideration you are legally due. This section of the contract is often called "Rule 240", but no matter what it is called, they will have a section that specifically spells out what action they must take to help you continue your trip and what compensation you are due, if any. The U.S. Department of Transportation mandates that a copy of this contract be available to passengers at the Airline's ticket counter. Many Airlines also provide this information on their web sites so you might print it off and take it with you in case you need it. Some Airline employees will try to tell you to that they no longer use "Rule 240", but no matter what they call this section of their contract they still have to honor their written guidelines in the contract of carriage. These guidelines are part of the legal contract that deals with you. Both you and the Airline agreed upon these terms when they sold and you purchased their ticket. The Airline cannot choose to disregard part of a legal contract and enforce a different policy.
  • If other Airlines are still operating, see if your Airline is willing to find you a seat on another Airline. Although, their contract may allow them some time to first find you a flight on their own Airline, most state that when they fail to do so, they will try to find you a seat with another Airline. Know that many Airlines limit your potential choices of other Airlines only with certain Airlines that have existing agreements with your Airline. Your option probably won’t be to find any other flight at the airport that works. It will be to find another flight from a list of specific Airlines.
  • The Airline’s "Rule 240" may state that, if you so choose, you are entitled to an involuntary refund for any unused portion of your ticket, even if you purchased a nonrefundable ticket.
  • "Rule 240" also specifies what, if any, other compensation you are due because of the flight’s delay or cancellation. The compensation due will usually vary depending on the reason for the flight’s delay or cancellation.
  • If it looks like lots of people are going to be stuck for a long time, consider booking a hotel room and/or a rental car before everyone else grabs them all.
  • Look into other practical forms of transportation such as trains, buses, or rental cars. The airport may close, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the highways and railroads are impassible.
  • Move quickly, a closed airport will mean that other forms of transportation and hotel rooms will sell out quickly.
  • Update any future reservations with Airlines, hotels or rental cars that will be effected by your delay.

What type of compensation will I receive if my flight is delayed or cancelled?

You may think a delayed or cancelled flight will get you complimentary meals and a free hotel stay, but that’s not always true. However, you can take some actions to make sure you are given all the assistance and compensation you are due.

  • Being nice and working with the agent will often bring much better results than losing your temper. You can let them know you are upset without turning your anger toward them.
  • You might have to rely on your negotiation skills to cover some expenses caused by the flight’s delay or cancellation. This is where being professional can help.
  • Ask to be protected under the Airline’s "Rule 240", so you are given all the consideration you are legally due. "Rule 240" refers to the Airline’s own written rules in the ticket’s conditions or contract of carriage for dealing with missed connections, delayed and cancelled flights. "Rule 240" specifically spells out what action they must take to help you continue your trip and what compensation you are due, if any.
  • The U.S. Department of Transportation mandates that a copy of this contract must be made available to passengers at the Airline’s ticket counter. Many Airlines also provide this information on their web sites so print it off and take it with you.
  • Some Airline employees will try to tell you to that they no longer use "Rule 240", but no matter what they call this section of their contract, they still have to honor their written guidelines in their contract of carriage. These guidelines are part of the legal contract that deals with you. Both you and the Airline agreed upon these terms when they sold and you purchased their ticket. The Airline cannot choose to disregard part of a legal contract and enforce a different policy.
  • Most Airlines will first try to reschedule your flight or offer you coupons good toward future flights. However, many, although not all, Airline’s "Rule 240" state that, if you so choose, you are entitled to an involuntary refund for any unused portion of your ticket if you decide not to travel on the rescheduled flight, even if you purchased a nonrefundable ticket.
  • It’s always a good idea to pay for your plane ticket with a credit card. It usually makes it easier and quicker for you to get your refund and, if the Airline gives you hard time about refunding your unused ticket, you can ask your credit card company about the possibility of a charge back.
  • If the Airline requires you to mail in your unused ticket before they will issue a refund, be sure to make a copy of your ticket before you put it in the mail.
  • "Rule 240" also specifies what, if any other compensation you are due because of the flight’s delay or cancellation.
  • The compensation due will usually vary depending on the reason for the flight’s delay or cancellation. Compensation for delay will also vary depending on the amount of time that you were delayed.
  • If the delay or cancellation is caused by issues beyond the control of the Airline, often referred to in a "Force Majeure" clause, any compensation you are due may be limited or eliminated.
  • "Force Majeure" is a big catchall phrase that identifies many possible situations whether actual or threatened that cannot be foreseen by the Airlines and/or are beyond the control of the Airline. Many situations can qualify under "Force Majeure", but some that are often listed include, the weather, acts of God, government regulation, terrorism, wars, hostilities, security and safety concerns, strikes, work slowdowns, labor-related disputes, shortage of labor or fuel.
  • Depending on your particular circumstances, you may be entitled to compensation for an overnight stay in a hotel, meals, phone calls or other transportation costs. However, there are limits and restrictions on all these forms of compensations. Many Airlines will not pay for an overnight hotel stay at the origin point or destination of your flight and many even deny paying for a stay if your flight is stopped at an airport near your home’s main airport.
  • If you are late checking in, you may have waived your right to any compensation you are due, including your right to an involuntary refund.
  • Keep all receipts for expenses caused by your delay or flight cancellation. No matter what their rules say, you can always make an appeal to the Airline’s customer service department and you’ll want the receipts to back you up. Send your Airline copies of the receipts and keep the original receipts.
  • Even though, your Airline may not be required to give compensation, they still may provide you with something to keep you a happy customer.

What should I do if my plane is late in arriving and this causes me to miss a connecting flight?

  • If you’ve already missed your flight, go first to the personnel of the Airline that caused you to miss your flight.

  • They should help you get rebooked with a new ticket.

  • They may also help with some of the extra expense and/or provide you with a meal or hotel voucher if necessary.

Will the Airline always help me if a late plane caused me to miss my next flight?

  • Hopefully, for good customer service, they will at least assist you. But if you have booked your flights too close together, within an hour or two, you might find you have created your own problem and the Airlines won’t cover your costs.

  • You’ll need to check with the individual Airlines about the minimum check-in time to connect to another flight.

What should I do if a fire causes an emergency evacuation of the aircraft?

  • Move away from fire and smoke.
  • Stay quiet and listen for instructions from the flight crew.
  • Concentrate on getting out and leave your possessions behind.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a wet napkin or handkerchief.
  • Assist other passengers if you are able.
  • Stay low and move quickly to the nearest safe front or rear exit.
  • Use the floor lighting to help guide you to the exit.
  • Once you reach the evacuation slide, remove any high-heeled shoes BEFORE you sit down to slide. Place arms, elbows in, across your chest with your legs and feet together and jump feet first onto evacuation slide.
  • Once you exit the aircraft, move away and clear the area, but remain alert for emergency vehicles rushing to provide assistance.
  • Never return to an aircraft that has experienced a fire, even if it looks safe.

How can I avoid injury on my flight?

  • Watch for special travel advisories issued by agencies of the U.S. Government concerning weather concerns, security threats or other important issues at or on route to your destination.
  • Research the Airline’s safety record and use the safest one. This is especially important when you are flying non-U.S. Airlines.
  • Book a non-stop flight to reduce the number of takeoffs and landings. Most accidents occur when the plane is increasing or decreasing altitude or speed, all of which happen during times of takeoff and landing.
  • Dress to cover as much skin as possible. Synthetic fabrics may melt when heated so wear clothing made of natural fabrics such as wool, cotton, denim or leather.
  • Avoid restrictive clothing and wear clothing that is loose or can be loosened.
  • Wear low-heeled, leather or canvas shoes. Lace up shoes are best because they can be loosened.
  • Follow the flight attendants instructions. They are trained to keep you safe.
  • Listen to the emergency instructions given at the beginning of the flight.
  • Read the safety instruction card placed in the magazine pouch of the seat in front of you and locate your flotation device.
  • Make a mental plan of action in case of emergency. Locate the emergency exits both in front and behind you. Count the rows between you and the nearest front and rear exits so you’ll know how far to go even if smoke blocks your view.
  • Always keep your seatbelt fastened when you are in your seat. This can help protect you if you experience unexpected turbulence.
  • Have the flight attendant pour refills of hot beverages over their beverage cart and not over your lap. They should take your cup, refill it and then hand it back.
  • Limit your intake of alcohol. The cabin’s pressure causes alcohol to have a greater effect on your system than it does on the ground, so two drinks might feel like three or four.
  • Don’t place overweight items in the overhead cabin storage. You could injure your back in doing so and those items could fall back out on you or others.
  • Ask the flight attendant to remove any overweight items from the overhead cabin storage.
  • Avoid the seat under the overhead storage compartment. Many people are injured each year by heavy items falling from the overhead storage compartment.

How can I be more comfortable on the plane?

  • Pick the best seat for you in your class and then check on upgrades available at check-in.

  • If you think you’ll need them, grab a pillow and blanket as soon as you get on the plane, they go fast.

  • Dress in layers so you can peel off or add to as necessary.

  • Take a bathroom break, even if it’s just to get up and move around a little.

  • Washing your face can help you feel refreshed.

How can I reduce the effects of motion sickness?

  • Most people are perfectly comfortable flying on planes. If you’ve never flown before and fear sickness, see if your doctor can find something that could help if you need it. You probably won’t, but once you’re on the plane it’s too late and you might have trouble contacting your doctor before the flight home.

  • Booking a seat in the middle of the plane next to the wings will provide a smoother ride.

How can I reduce the effects of a change in altitude on my ears?

  • The planes are pressurized, but your ears are still sensitive to the change in altitude. The landing is usually worse than the take off.

  • If you have a head cold, try anything that has worked to clear it up before you travel.

  • If you have an ear infection, you might want to consider seeing the countryside on a train. An ear infection can be extremely painful on an airplane. You should contact your doctor and let them know about your travel plans to see if they can help you before you leave.

  • Children and adults both find relief from sucking on candy or juicy chewing gum. The act of chewing and swallowing relieves the pressure on the ears at take off and landing. Be careful when choosing the juicy treat for small children to avoid the possibility of choking during turbulence.

  • Nursing a baby can be used to help the baby’s and everyone else’s ears.

  • Yawning is also a good way to help the ears.

  • If you’re able to sleep, you should request a wake up before you begin descent. The landing is usually harder on your ears and since you swallow less when you sleep, you may wake up on the ground in pain.

  • Children and some adults are particularly good at smuggling hotel pool water home from their vacation. Buy some drops and get it out before you fly.

  • Whatever you do, do it all through take off and landing so you can adjust to the change little by little.

How can I reduce jetlag?

  • To help deal with jetlag, attack the problem before you leave.

  • Start adjusting your schedule to an earlier or later bedtime and mealtime little by little the week before you leave.

  • Change your watch as soon as you arrive to help convince your body of the new time.

  • Drink lots of water. Much of jetlag also comes from the body being dehydrated. Remember that alcohol, caffeine and sugar will only worsen the effects of dehydration.

  • After you’re hydrated, use caffeine and a little exercise to help you stay awake if you have a new later bedtime. If you have to adjust to an earlier bedtime, consider the sleep inducing turkey for dinner.

  • Avoid rich food so your body can concentrate on catching up instead of heavy digesting.

  • Try to arrive in the evening, it will be easier for your body to sleep if you arrive when it’s dark. Then, you can start with a new day after some rest.

Do I have to follow the flight attendants instructions if I feel I’m receiving poor customer service?

  • Yes, demanding an extra drink after they have cut you off, sneaking a smoke on a nonsmoking flight, or just being a rowdy passenger could get you arrested once you land.
  • Interference with the duties of any crewmember is a violation of Federal law. Penalties have included large fines and prison time.
  • The Airline’s personnel are there to provide a safe flight for everyone, so you should cooperate with them in their efforts.
  • It is best to follow their requests since they must comply with many Federal regulations.
  • If you feel you’ve received poor customer service, you can still take it up with the Airline once you’ve landed.

What should I do if I have a problem with the Airline?

  • Speak with the Airline personnel. Explain the problem and ask for it to be fixed.

  • If you can think of a satisfactory solution to the problem, suggest it to whoever is working with you.

  • Allow for a reasonable response time considering the nature of the problem.

  • Remain calm and keep it businesslike. Don’t make it a personal attack against the person who is trying to help you. The person is human and your professionalism will bring you better results than unleashing your anger.

  • Don’t play the "big shot" game unless you are. "Do you know who I am and how often I fly this Airline?" might be greeted by yes, once over the last two years. Computers are doing a wonderful job keeping track of customers and they may have your information right on their screen. If you try to fake them out by acting like a big shot, they might just think you are trying to get something for nothing and doubt your whole story. You are their customer and that is enough to demand good service.

  • If you don’t feel the person whom you are dealing with is helpful, ask to see a supervisor.

  • Calmly explain your situation to the supervisor and allow them to fix the problem.

  • If you have gone up the local chain of command and are still unhappy, contact the Airline’s customer service department.

What information should I have if I need to contact the Airline’s customer service department?

  • Write soon after the incident, while the information is fresh and you are still within any time limits.

  • Include as much specific information as possible when describing the problem.

  • Include the date, location and time of the incident.

  • Your name, reservation or confirmation number. Include your ticket and/or flight number. You should also include any elite club membership or frequent flyer numbers.

  • Keep the originals, but include copies of any relevant paperwork.

  • Name, title, employee number or physical description of those you dealt with, if you have them.

  • A description of the actions taken by those involved.

  • If you doubt you were treated according to proper company policies or feel those policies don’t provide for proper customer service; question the customer service department about your treatment.

  • Include the effect this problem will have on your past and future impressions of the company. But, don’t baselessly threaten "in any case, I’ll never use you again", they might just write you off and leave you unsatisfied.

  • If you can think of a satisfactory solution to your problem, suggest it to the customer service department to give them a chance to win back your business.

  • Include your name, address and a telephone number where they can reach you with their response.                   

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