Friday, August 3, 2012

Flight Canceled? Your Cell Phone May Be Your Best Friend

Here's this week's travel tip. If your flight is canceled or significantly delayed, your cell phone may help you get a seat on another flight and save you cancelation fees at the hotel you booked. Put the phone numbers and confirmation numbers for airlines reservations, ground transportation, and hotels in your cell phone or smart phone before leaving for your trip. Make sure you have your airline and hotel membership numbers as well. If your flight is canceled or the delay means you will miss your connecting flight, you can call the airline reservation line directly and try to get on another flight. Although you still want to get in line for the customer service desk, you can call the airline's reservation number while you are waiting for the line to move slowly to the counter. You may have a new seat before you get to the front of the line and, more importantly, before one of the twenty people ahead of you gets that seat first. If the line is still long, you can get your boarding pass at the new flight's gate. Be sure and call your shuttle or rental car and hotel to reschedule or cancel, so you won't be charged a cancelation fee.

When you arrive at the airport and head for your original gate, look for your airline's customer service desks - there may be more than one. Often, when a flight is canceled or delayed, people head for the nearest desk. Heading for the one at another spot in the terminal may mean you are at or near the front of the line instead of waiting behind the other 100 or so customers from your flight who made a bee-line to the first customer service counter they could find. Also, and this shouldn't have to be said, but given what I have seen happen in front of me on more than one occasion, I will - be nice to the airline employees, no matter how tired or frustrated you feel. Remember, they have the computer with the flight info in it, and you don't. Plus, there is that whole being kind and respectful to people thing.

A final tip, if your flight is delayed, sit within earshot of the gate agent. When I overheard one gate agent in Virginia say to another, "it will take an act of God", when talking about the chances that the plane's mechanical issues would be resolved anytime soon, I made my way quickly to the airline's customer service desk to book another flight, several minutes ahead of the official cancelation announcement.

Happy Trails!

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