Bitterwallet Travel Guide Part 4: Travel Day
So you've booked your flight, reserved your plane seat, and have a lovely hotel waiting for you at your destination. Now, the time has finally arrived - travel day is upon you.
Are you're out of harm's way? Not just yet. Between the time you arrive at the airport and the time you board on the plane, all hell could break loose and along with it goes your sanity. We have all had that experience, so for the fourth installment of Bitterwallet's Travel Guide, here are some tips and tricks to help you get from home to vacation destination smoother than saying 'Bon Voyage!':
1. Have all the essential information handy: Have the airline and travel agent's phone numbers stored in your mobile, a printable copy of necessary travel documents and a photo/email of your ticket stored in your laptop. It's better to expect the unexpected, and arm yourself with tangible proofs and useful information to help you get through with less trouble.
For example, for those traveling to the USA on the Visa Waiver Program, word is that you don't have to print the approval letter. But if you have a printer, why not do it? Also for those going transatlantic, get hold of a copy of Rule 240 which protects you in case your flight gets stranded. The Stranded Passengers’ Hotline from the Coalition for Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights 1-877-FLYERS-6 (1-877-359-3776) may also come in handy.
2. Anticipate delay and know your alternatives: Plan A would obviously be taking off from the airport as scheduled. Should that plan be compromised however, you better have a backup plan. Switching effortlessly to plan B is possible, if you prepare a copy of the airline's timetable, or have a list of alternate flights to your destination. You can obtain both from the airline's website, or at website AirTimeTable.
Also, signing up for alerts features from sites like FlightStat and FlightView enroll you to SMS or email alerts to track pertinent information and have a close to accurate updates on your flight schedule.
3. Check in online: Ideally, it is best to check in online 24 hrs before the flight schedule. You would also be able to select your seating in advance, and skip the queues in the morning by proceeding right through security or the drop off section. The gist of it is that in case your flight is delayed, you'd be less likely to get bumped and lose your seat.
4. Be prompt: Make sure that you arrive at the airport early - even if you knew that your flight is delayed. Of course, you won't be having a blast waiting at the airport when you know your flight schedule is postponed for two hours. But on rare, miraculous occasions, a 2-hour delay turns into 15-minute flight hiccup. So better be there than be left behind. Or on a more possible scenario of all flights being delayed, you can grab any phone and talk your agent over to transfer you on an earlier (delayed) flight.
5. Get a good travel agent: During flight delays, talking to a knowledgeable and resourceful travel agent beats calling the 800 airline hotlines and talking to somebody who doesn't have the foggiest idea, or care, about your predicament. If you can get a travel agent who, with a phone call, can book you on three standby flights and automatically cancels the others as soon as you board the plane - stick with that agent.
6. Consider sleeping in airport as a possible scenario: it's depressing that air travel has come to this, but since it has, it's always better to bring stuff that will make sleeping in airport a more comforting idea. You don't need to make a second bedroom out of the airport lounge, but the general idea is to carry some things that can either help you sleep better or help you stay awake during a long layover.
And best of all...
7. Enjoy: If you've done your homework and took care of the basics by following out the advice through the Travel Guide Series thus far and fate acts in your favor, you''ll be flying the friendly skies sooner than you expect.