Lost baggage. Overbooked flights. Flight delays. The stress of these mishaps can make or break your vacation or business trips. Most people who travel by air treat these potential annoyances as the price of flying.
Real Money talked to travel expert Lee Abbamonte tonight about how best to mitigate these problems and deal with them if they occur.
1) Know the status of your flight before going to the airport and check in online. This helps avoid unnecessary wait times.
2) Subscribe to an app like TripIt. TripIt and TripIt Pro can organize your travel plans and keep all your confirmation numbers in one place without a bunch of papers.
TripIt Pro will also send you delay and gate change info right to your phone - it's very helpful and has changed the way I travel.
3) Go with a mental mindset that something might happen, i.e. prepare for the worst and know the mitigating factors such as weather, which airport you are flying to and from (New York City's LGA to Chicago's ORD expect delays), holidays weekends, etc.
4) Have the numbers to your airlines customer service lines, etc. These are critical in getting things expedited in the face of a cancellation or long delay to avoid lines at the airport and rude service people on the ground who are just trying to make everyone go away.
5) Utilize social media to help get your complaint noticed. Most airlines have dedicated Twitter handles these days and they are extremely active. I find this to be the single best way to complain and get changes done in a timely manner.
6) Be polite. I cannot stress this enough. Whether you are beyond stressed or missing an important connection, being rude to customer service people or gate agents is the single biggest no-no.
They don't care about you and your issues and will help you as minimally as possible, but if you are nice and polite you have a better chance.
However, if you say something like "Do you know who I am" or "I'll never fly this airline again" you will get nowhere-fast!
Watch "Real Money" Monday-Friday at 7PM ET/4PM PT on Al Jazeera America.