Considering headline news, advisories and warnings, travelers could very well choose not to go anywhere. Picking the familiar surroundings of home over unknown potential hazards might make more sense, to a point. On the other hand, travel can go wrong on just about any trip, regardless of social or economic factors at the destination. Before thinking twice about cancelling travel plans, consider reducing the odds of travel disruption with some practices we actually have control over.
- Own Your Reservations- On a recent sold out flight from Chicago to Orlando I was waiting to board when another passenger approached the gate, just as mad as she could be about seating assignments. “I can’t believe the airline would not seat our family of four together!” was the complaint. Apparently never looking at her airline reservation until arriving at the airport, Mom and dad were in one row while the young kids were seated far away. While the passenger’s concern was valid, the unpleasant situation could have been avoided by simply checking in online and choosing their own seats.
- Realistic Timing- Something as simple as choosing seats for a flight can have a positive impact on travel but not all travel disruptions are within our control. Delayed flights, for example, are hard to predict. Still, allowing plenty of time between connections can help avoid missing that delayed flight. On domestic flights, allow a minimum of 60 minutes between flights.
- Double Up Internationally- On International flights, double or triple that time cushion. Doing so allows a cushion of time that we may or may not need. The thought: better to have the time than wish we did. While fellow travelers are worrying about making their connection, you will still watch the clock but with the confidence of knowing there is time to spare.
- Luggage That Works- Because you made it to the next gate, there is no guarantee that your luggage did. I went nearly a lifetime without any airline ever losing one piece of luggage. On a trip to Barbados that had a short connection in Miami our flight was delayed, causing us to run between gates. The thought that my luggage was not able to make the same distance and be loaded on that next plane never crossed my mind…until we had landed in Barbados. Everyone else had retrieved their luggage and I found myself filling out a lost luggage report with the airline.
- Consider Carry-On only- After nearly the same situation developed on another flight a few weeks later, I began traveling with all carry-on luggage. Armed with the confidence that luggage was totally in my control, I relaxed, enjoyed the flight and was in no rush to get off the plane to claim checked luggage before someone else picked it up by mistake, thinking it was theirs.
- The Right Tool For The Job- Traveling with carry-on luggage only required a bit different thinking and some trial and error to get just right. On cruise ships or in hotels, I use laundry services more than in the past to make a limited selection of clothing work for an entire trip. Sizing luggage so it clearly fits within the size limits of an individual airline takes research before every flight, as they all seem to be different.
- A Backpack For All Travel- A safe bet is a small backpack that will fit under airline seats and a carry-on that does not push the envelope on how large it can be. On a recent United Airlines flight, passengers would quickly know the gate attendant as the Luggage Nazi, requiring every passenger to prove their carry-on fit in the sizing regulations. If it did not, the first time, it was checked to their final destination.
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