It is rare that everything goes absolutely perfect when you travel by plane. When you add in other people like Uber drivers, pilots, flight attendants, TSA, and other airport personnel, you add in a whole lot of new factors! And, particularly in the cold months of winter and the hot months of summer you have the added stress of potential weather related delays.
If you have never been on a plane and heard a pilot come over the loudspeaker to announce that plans are changing, consider yourself very lucky!
In the summer of 2011, we (Cecily + Melissa) were en route to Boston for one of our very good friend’s bachelorette parties. We were on the receiving end of one of those messages from the pilot, and we had to do an emergency landing in Richmond due to severe storms. It was very scary, disorienting, confusing and frustrating! We sat around with our fellow passengers in the gate area for a long time before we realized that unless we made some moves, we were likely not getting to Boston that day. We spoke to one of the gate agents, and they told us that there was a flight leaving with another airline that had seats, but we would have to leave the gate, go back out to the check-in desk, and then go through security again. It was going to be the sprint of our lives, but we decided that we had to make it work and get to Boston that night…and somehow, we did! We got in very, very late that Friday night, and slept in pretty late the next day. But we had an amazing time in Boston celebrating our friend, and got a pretty great story to tell too!
So, all of this is to say we have learned a lot since 2011, and we have some great tips on airline travel for 2022!
- Download the app for the airline you are flying for the trip. Login to the app and have it fully ready before you arrive at the airport. The app is updated first with any flight updates and changes, so make sure your alerts are set to “notify” as well.
- Download the apps from the other major airlines and make sure you are logged in on those as well.
- Try to avoid checking a bag if you can. Checked bags can create added problems if you have a stop (or 2) or if you have to adjust your plans due to weather, staffing shortages, etc.
- Fly direct if possible or try to keep your connections to a minimum.
- Turn into an early bird & grab the earliest flight of the day if you can. You are less likely to run into issues on the earlier flights, but if you do have a delay or cancellation, you can probably still grab another flight later that day to get to your destination.
- Plan your airport arrival in advance— check on parking options, drop off areas, etc. some airport websites also have TSA security check-in times now too.
- Pack your patience and be willing to adjust your expectations if things don’t go exactly as planned. We know this is easier said than done, but there are real staffing shortages right now. Don’t take it out on the people who are still showing up and doing the work!
- If your gate agent is offering flight vouchers for people to give up their seats and your schedule is flexible, go and talk to them. Tell them you will take the highest amount they’re willing to offer on a voucher and you’ll give up your seat! Some travelers are getting upwards of $2500 in flight vouchers!