Let’s face it. Travel is great, but the process of getting to your destination is often a painful experience – characterized by long layovers, delays or cancellations and lost baggage. Luckily, thanks to George Hobica of Airfare Watchdog, it’s possible to avoid all these travel woes altogether. Here’s how:
1. Bumped from your flight?
In order to maximize revenue, sometimes airlines may overbook their flights based on an estimate of potential no-shows and cancellations. Although this is rare, according to Travel Sense, “the chances of being ‘bumped’ from a flight (denied boarding) has increased over the years. Although the Department of Transportation regulates compensation for Involuntary bumping (occurs when an airline prohibits a paid passenger from boarding), to avoid the scenario altogether, make sure to get to the airline early and avoid peak travel days. You can also ask to be put on another airline’s flight, but you are entitled to the cash compensation if you’re delayed more than an hour.
2. Canceled or delayed flight?
Every U.S. domestic flight is required to have an on-time performance score, which can be found online – so do your research before boarding. Avoid flights with low scores and make sure to make any connecting flights in areas that are not prone to snow storms, such as Chicago during the winter. It also helps to keep a list of alternate flights in handy, just in case. If all else fails and you must stay overnight, many airlines provide rooms and meals, as well as compensation (about $100.00 per day) if you incur expenses due to a cancelled or delayed flight.
3. Stolen luggage?
Although there’s no way to prevent theft, sometimes bags are taken from carousels by accident because they look alike. To avoid this, opt for a brightly colored suitcase and never pack valuables in checked bags. Also make sure to keep your receipts from checked bags and expensive items, since airlines will not compensate for any lost or stolen items. Another option is to purchase “excess valuation” cover from your airline, which provides extra insurance for your luggage when traveling internationally. Lastly, before leaving the airport, open your bag to check if everything arrived safely. If not, file a claim with the airline and also check your credit card: most cards offer insurance for free, even for carry-on luggage, as long as you used the card to pay for the trip..
4. Can’t find seats next to your friends?
Try to book your seats as soon as possible by calling an airline’s reservation number. If you’re traveling with a child, make sure to note that when booking your flight, since airlines attempt to sit children together with their guardians. You can also try to head to the airport early to ask for seat-reassignment, but if that doesn’t work, keep a few gift certifications in handy to bargain seating arrangements with other passengers.