iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Sitting at the airport longer than necessary is a burden every travel has unfortuantely experienced. However, there are ways to make that nusance a bit more bearable.
Farecompare CEO Rick Seaney sat down with ABC News to explain what to do when your flight plans have changed unexpectedly.
Here’s what he had to say:
Your flight’s been cancelled or take-off is delayed. Hurricanes and blizzards aren’t the only things that mess up flights; simple thunderstorms can delay and cancel flights year-round.
So can the odd mechanical problem, or changes in airline schedules (like cancelling an unprofitable route even though you have a reservations). Some of these things happen with little or no notice whatsoever so don’t get complacent.
Don’t panic for the simple reason that it does no good. Instead, roll with the delay by following these steps. I can’t promise any of this will straighten out an airline’s tangled schedule but it can get you on your way again as quickly as possible. Here’s how.
1. Be sure the airline has your contact information
The airlines want you to know about delays and cancellations but if they don’t have your phone or email information, they won’t be able to contact you. Add this information when booking your flight or anytime before the plane takes off. Don’t assume you did this, either; go back and check your reservation to be sure those contacts are in there.
2. Get in line, get on social media
When a delay and cancellation occurs, your top priority is to speak to a human being with the goal of getting on the next flight out. Planes are packed these days, so there are precious few empty seats and being first in line for one is key. Three methods for making contact:
– Get in line: Go to the gate agent. If that line is impossibly long and you’re an elite miles member, head to the carrier’s VIP lounge which has a dedicated airline rep inside (and if you’re not an elite member, you can often buy a day-pass for about $50). Another option is look for another gate agent or even go outside security to the airline check-in desks at the front of the terminal which may have shorter lines.
– Get on the phone: While in line, get on the phone to the airline; you may get to talk to a live person on your cell before you reach the head of the line.
– Get on social media: Follow your airline on Twitter or Facebook and send them a message about your predicament; many airlines have active social media teams that respond quickly and might actually be able to help.
3. When there’s a delay, don’t go away
If the gate agent announces a flight is delayed by an hour or two, you can’t necessarily believe it! If the storm passes quickly or mechanics fix the broken gizmo sooner than expected, the plane will take off then and there and if you’ve wandered too far away to hear this new announcement you’ll get left behind. If you must walk around, maybe to grab some food, don’t dawdle; if traveling with friends or family, leave someone in the gate area ready to text the magic word, “Boarding!”
Tip: Bring some food from home; it’ll save money and you won’t be tempted by a sit-down restaurant far from your gate.
4. Why a carry-on is so important
Big, checked-bags don’t often go missing, but long delays and cancelled flights help create cascading problems for airlines which in turn can lead to missing bags. Here’s where packing a carry-on really shines: it’s not the fact that they’re usually free of fees, it’s that they can’t get lost. One important point: The smaller regional jets that are so plentiful these days don’t have as much bin space as the big planes and can’t accommodate every passenger’s carry-on. This is why one of my employees always uses a “squishy” bag that she jams under the seat. “Fits on every plane, big or small,” she notes.
5. Be mindful of electronics
You won’t forget your phone but don’t forget your charger, either. Today’s airlines have plenty of places to plug in so stay as close to 100 percent as you can; you never know how long those long lines will last.
Rick Seaney is the CEO of FareCompare, a website that curates the best deals on flights from around the world. Any opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author.
Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.