I am home -- with a really bad cold. You don't want to know how bad I feel. So I am surrounded by vitamin C, cough medicine, sore throat lozenges, etc., and my favorite non-technical magazines. This is not the time to read hard core IT journals. It is a time to catch up on what is happening outside of work.
So, in my "light" reading, I came across an article on air travel tips from "Real Simple" - one of my favorite off-hours magazines. Because of the large amount of travel that I do normally and the upcoming holiday travel season that many of us must endure, I offer this information in the hopes that it helps you out. The following tips were the ones that I found most interesting but you should read the entire article for other tips.
Tip #1: You show up 45 minutes before your flight but get bumped from that flight -- it happens all the time - usually when you really need to get to your destination on time. What are your rights and what should the airline do? Airlines constantly overbook flights to avoid having a single empty seat from no-shows or cancellations. According to the article's author, George Hobica, you are entitled to monetary compensation if you are involuntarily bumped. If you reach your destination within one to two hours of your origin time, the compensation is $200 or the face value of the segment from which you were bumped (whichever is less). If you are two to four hours late, the compensation rises to double the one way fare up to $400. The airline may offer you a round-trip ticket instead but he (and I) recommend that you take the cash! To reduce the likelihood of getting bumped, he recommends that you arrive at the check-in desk an hour or MORE before your flight. Apparently the airlines tend to start bumping people who check in last. I don't know about you but I have a hard time getting to the airport even 45 minutes before the flight... His other suggestion is to fly JetBlue. They have a firm policy of not overbooking flights - hurrah! By the way, the Department of Transportation's website has monthly reports on airlines' over sale records
Tip #2: You need to cancel or reschedule a nonrefundable ticket -- that cost you $98. Now the airline is charging you up to $100 to change your ticket plus the difference in the fares. Is this legitimate? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. If you want to get a cheap seat, you risk the penalty fee and up charge if things change. The author recommends that you fly a budget carrier such as Southwest to begin with. They are the only carrier that doesn't penalize you for changing a nonrefundable ticket. JetBlue only charges $20 if the changes are made online, $25 if done by an agent. Most airlines will make you pay the difference in fares though.
Tip #3: You miss your connection -- and it is the last one of the day. I wish I had a dollar for the number of times that has happened to me! Here's what you should expect. If the delay was the airlines fault (mechanical problems, late crew, etc.), you should request (politely) overnight lodging, a meal voucher, and transportation to and from your hotel. It is important to know though that there is NO LAW requiring the airline to do this... If the delay was not caused by the airline (bad weather, for example), you may just be out of luck. Next time, try to get a nonstop flight so you don't have to worry about a connection.
Tip #4: My favorite one -- your airline goes out of business after you buy a ticket. Other airlines flying the EXACT same route are required by federal law to give you a standby seat only for no more than an additional $50 each way. The tip from Real Simple? Pay for the ticket with your credit card. You can contest the charge (in writing) and the credit card company must delete it from your bill. Note though - this only works if you contact your credit card company within 60 days of the purchase. If you buy the ticket way in advance, this may not be an option.
I hope these tips help you through the upcoming travel season. Feel free to add your own tips in the comments section.
Yours in health and BI success. Cough, cough, sputter, sputter....
Posted December 12, 2005 4:10 PM
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