Busiest Thanksgiving Ever:
More than 25 million people are expected to take to the skies between Friday, November 15thand Monday, November 25th. This is an increase of 7% from last year and the single busiest day will be (as usual) the Sunday after Thanksgiving.
No longer a recommendation, but mandatory this year. Airlines are pushing for on time departures more than ever and if passengers are not at the gate of departure a minimum of 20 minutes prior to scheduled departure they could lose their seats (part of the airline’s conditions of contract). Seats will quickly be turned over to standby passengers and with subsequent flights being filled, options for those missing a flight is reduced and could come at an additional cost.
This is especially true for the originating flight (first out of the day) as that silver revenue tube must be dispatched on time.
It is imperative passengers place an ID name tag on their checked and carry on bags. In addition, placing a copy of the itinerary in the checked bag can help the agent agents to route the bag to the passenger’s current location – versus simply sending it home. Pack it last.
For those who have not traveled in a while, a quick visit to TSA.GOV can help acquaint the traveler with any recent changes to security or to baggage allowances.
Seat Assignments – An Absolute:
When flights are oversold (more reservations than seats on a plane) anyone without a seat assignment is placed on standby. Often planes are “swapped,” where the original schedule was a 737 and has been replaced by a 757 and sometimes those prior seat assignments can be cancelled…meaning it is imperative to reconfirm one’s reservation many times before the day of departure to make sure the flight times are the same and to make certain those seat assignments are still in place.
SEATGURU – Selecting the Best Seat:
For those who wonder if their seat reclines or has power outlets, SeatGuru.com is a great and free site and one I have recommended for years. Place the airline and flight number into the site and a color-coded seat chart appears, showing the best seats on the flight and those to avoid.
Track Your Flight:
Using FlightAware.com you can track your outgoing flight information and it allows others to track your progress (as in those who are picking you up). It also has a tab where you can check the progress on the inbound flight, which makes up your departure, as well. A handy function when there are no airline agents in the gate area.
Board and Touch Nothing:
Airplanes are filled with germs and great care should be taken to avoid contact of any kind with items within the seat back pocket. Taking time to wipe down the seat and tray table with an alcohol wipe is also a good idea.
On Bag Issues, Do Not Leave the Airport:
If the bag does not arrive when you do at the destination airport, do not leave until you have filled out a delayed luggage report. Many airline representatives may say “It okay, it will be on the next flight” but the reality is the claim needs to be filled out within four hours of your scheduled arrival in order to have a basis for a later claim.
Complain to the DOT, not the Airline:
More than 99.9% of the people who have a complaint make the mistake of complaining to the airline. Wrong move. Complaints should be instead directed to the Department of Transportation so there is record of the issue. Complaints that go to the airlineare notcounted as a service issue and skews the numbers.
For example, in August (latest DOT numbers) we had 75+ million people fly on more than 800,000 scheduled flights. Of those 75,000,000 people guess how many had a complaint with their airline? According to the DOT the total number of complaints against US airlines was 1,009. The kicker is last August the number was 1,219 so the crazed conclusion by the DOT is airline customer service is improving.
Yes, a complaint vehicle that nearly no one is aware of is how our government measures airline customer service and that is crazy. Our challenge is to educate the masses who travel on how they can have their service complaints addressed and that is by simply visiting www.dot.govto fill out a short form on the airline involved. Once filed, it creates a paper trail where the airlines are held accountable for how they respond and how quickly they do so. It is a great tool for those who travel and it is past time for us to use it.