From planning a trip to boarding the aircraft, this process can be stressful. Whether you’re a regular flyer or first-timer, there’s so much to learn in order to master the technique of traveling. So what better way than to learn some tips from someone that works for an airline.
BEFORE YOU BUY A TICKET
- Do not buy your ticket through a travel agency, this includes the online companies that compare tickets from multiple airlines for you. The price of the ticket may seem great but when you miss your flight, a delay happens or any other flight interruptions occur, then the airline is limited in what it can do for you. The ticket belongs to the travel agency, they have control over the ticket, they are responsible for you. So, spend a few more dollars, buy the ticket directly with the airline, and travel with the comfort that if anything happens you will be taken care of.
- Each airline may or may not have ticketing agreements with other carriers. Ticketing agreements come in handy when there are delays. The airline can see what’s available on the other carriers and send you on your way. Do your research and if you decide to fly with an airline that doesn’t have ticketing agreements, I wish you all the best during delays and cancellations.
- YOU are responsible to research visa requirements for your destination. I don’t know how many times people say ” why didn’t the airline tell me”. Um, maybe because you’re a grown adult!? Or my favorite, when one is heading to Australia, “I’m an American, I don’t need a visa”. Wait, what!?
- Once you arrive at the last step before hitting the “purchase” button, you need to realize that a ticket is like a mini contract. You are dependent on the carrier getting you from point A to point B. So make sure you thoroughly read what you’re about to sign up for. Each carrier follows the same regulations but also have different policies, READ THEM!
- Stay away from any “skip a leg” websites. They sell tickets at a super low cost. The way it works is you want a ticket to New York, a direct flight is 500, but you buy a ticket to Baltimore via JFK, your ticket now costs 300. All you need to do is pack a carry-on, and get off in JFK. Sounds easy enough, until your board in zone 4 and it’s time to check your bag. We see it all the time, passengers throw a fit, we look up the ticket and catch them scamming an airline. The bag will get sent to the final destination.
- If you’re flying out of an international airport, you need to arrive THREE hours before. Doesn’t matter if you’re flying domestically, three hours before.
- Take into consideration time of day traffic, holiday traffic or traffic accidents. If you’re late, you are breaking your end of the contract and you’ll most likely have to pay penalty fees.
- Each airport is packed with signs, EVERYWHERE! Take your time to read them, they will guide you to where you need to go.
- Sometimes if you arrive early enough, the airline can put you onto an earlier flight. Whether it’s free or for a charge, each airline is different.
- The weight of bags is important and can change depending on where you’re going. Penalty fees are in place to prevent passengers from over packing. Each bag needs to be tagged accurately to prevent weight imbalance. If you decide to bring an overweight bag, be prepared to pay much more. Depending on where you go, there could be a baggage embargo. Do your research and make sure you know your allowance. You may have to make a choice of leaving a bag behind or pay penalty fees to change your ticket to another day.
- Be patient during delays. I can promise you that the gate agents are not delaying your flight on purpose, so be nice to them.
- Delays take place for safety reasons. Believe it or not but when your bought your ticket (contract) with the airline, the airline is promising to take care of you. Each airline may do it differently but at the end of the day, your safety and the safety of the crew come first.
- Airline delays are different from airport delays and weather delays. When the delay is due to a mechanical issue, crew issue or system issue, that airline should be doing everything to get you to your destination. This is when those ticketing agreements come in handy. Also, food, hotel, and transpiration vouchers may be available. If the delay is due to weather or airport (plane) traffic, this is out of the airline’s control, there isn’t much the airline can offer except for kindness and patience.
- Depending on how long your delay is, this would be a perfect time to PURCHASE a day pass to a sky lounge. Unlimited drinks, unlimited food, and some peace and quiet.
- Flight interruptions are annoying, stay calm during them and trust the gate agents are on your side. On time departures are one of the greatest feelings in the world and when that delay happens the gate agent feels your pain.
- Overhead bin space is dependent on you and others around you, not the gate agent or flight attendant. So when space becomes limited, your bag will be checked. It’s really not the end of the world. If it is a big deal to you, remember your zone is dependent on what you spent on the ticket. The lower the cost, the higher probability you will need to check your bag. The highest the cost, you’re sitting in first class… plenty of room!
- Agents work so many flights in a day. If you have a question for your Salt Lake City flight but the sign behind the agent says Phoenix, take a seat and wait until your flight opens.
- Oversold flights are a thing and will never go away. Airlines make millions on overselling flights. Most of the time enough people end up missing their flight and volunteers aren’t needed. Then sometimes everyone shows up and volunteers can get a pretty good credit for future credit!
I really hope this is all handy for your future trips. I was so clueless about the traveling process before working for an airline. I’m grateful to have the experiences I have and the ability to share them with you. If you ever have questions about traveling feel free to ask me directly.