Christmas is a family tradition that sits on top of most people’s priority list. Massive number of people crosses continents and oceans to be with their family on this day. They save up the entire year to be able to join their love ones in celebrating the occasion and personally hand a gift. This is why a hitch causing one’s flight home to be cancelled can be very devastating. It is not just about missing a flight; it is about missing on family and family tradition.
Are you one of those people trooping on airports this year before Christmas to make it home just before the midnight clock strikes 12? If so, you wouldn’t want anything to go wrong leading to a cancelled Christmas flight. Even early booking may not address hitches, but surely there are ways to minimize such shattering incident.
Find out what your options are in this article “The Flight Before Christmas” by Michelle Higgins for The New York Times – Travel Section. The article opened with the experience of Kelly Hills whose December 20 flight was cancelled because of snowstorms. The next best flight schedule offered by the airline was a Dec. 27 flight that just won’t do. She was later able to plead her way onto a plane three days before Christmas, but only to go through more ordeals along the way.
To help you navigate through the chaos, here is a holiday travel checklist to be sure you are prepared for the worst as you head to the airport.
- Map out Plan B. Figure out your next best flight options in case your plane is delayed or canceled… online search at sites like Kayak.com or ITASoftware.com … OAG Flights2Go offers flight schedules and flight status information on your mobile phone.
- Load up your cellphone with emergency numbers. In addition to the airline reservation line, include the number for the frequent flier representative if you are a member… third-party travel site like Expedia or Travelocity…
- To make sure you’re not left out in the cold … add the numbers of some major hotel chains… If you are an iPhone user, there are several free apps that offer nearby real-time hotel listings with available rooms…
- Set up a flight alert for yourself and anyone who may need to know your whereabouts … These services, offered by most airlines and Web sites like Flightstats.com, let travelers know if a gate or flight time has changed via e-mail or text message. Orbitz.com allows customers to alert up to six people at a time…
Another tip: iPhone users can download the FlightTrack or Flight Status app, which offer the status of thousands of flights, as well as arrival gates and baggage carousels, for a one-time $4.99 fee from Apple’s iTunes App Store.
- Pack smart. Leave … anything else you can pick up at your destination. Have gifts shipped ahead … Edit your wardrobe … A carry-on will also allow you to avoid the scrum at baggage claim and easily move between flights…
Are you involuntarily bumped for another flight or are you forced to sleep in the airport because of a flight delay or cancellation? You could be getting compensation from the airline so it is important that you know your rights as a passenger/consumer. Know what agency you should be reporting the matter to be compensated for the inconvenience it caused you such as the Department of Transportation’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division.
You can be bumped in case of oversold flight, especially if you are the last to check in. This is why it is important to check in early. To prevent losing much time looking for a parking space, it pays to reserve for a parking spot and to know your airport. This will help you avoid circling and killing much valuable time before checking in.
Finally, be polite. Courtesy can take you places. This is not the time to get into squabbles that can only cause further delay. Courtesy also helps get positive results than brashness.
That was the approach that Dane Steele Green, chief executive of Steele Luxury Travel in New York…. “All of a sudden I hear tickets being printed.” Mr. Steele and his companion, who were initially scheduled to fly in business class on three connecting flights on Swiss International Air Lines, were put on a nonstop all-business class flight on a partner airline, PrivatAir. “It was wonderful,” he said.
Holiday is fun but not the travel you may need to take to reach your family when many others are desperately trying to do the same. There are rumors that it can be worse this year with planes being fully packed to capacity. So, what do you do with just a few weeks before Christmas flight? Relax. Go over this checklist and do your best to minimize the hassles. Finally, hope that inclement weather will not hit while you are just about to board to and throw the entire system into disarray as more and more flights are delayed or canceled.