Here are some good tips from The Traveling Professor on how to make flying easier:
Buy Airline Tickets Directly from the Airline: Forget Expedia, Orbitz, Flighthub, etc. Buy airline tickets on the airline website. If there is an issue with a flight (cancellation, delay, you need a refund, etc.) it is much easier to deal with the airline directly. However, if the ticket was purchased from a non-airline source, the airline will tell you to go back to them to resolve the issue. That just adds another level of bureacracy onto the issue - and probably a lot more hassle. Also, some airline reps will tell you that if a flight is oversold and no one volunteers to change to another flight, those who purchased tickets on non-airline websites will be the first to be bumped.
Be Nice: Flying can be frustrating. But it does no good to take frustrations out on customer service agents or flight crew by yelling, screaming, crying, be argumentative, or demanding. It won't work. In fact, it might even get you into trouble. Whenever The Traveling Professor encounters a problem, he usually starts the conversation by saying something like "How can I help you resolve this issue". It doesn't work all the time, but you know the expression - you get more bees with honey than vinegar.
Have Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance: Years ago, The Professor never saw a need to carry trip cancellation/interruption insurance. Now he has an annual policy. For instance, now when a flight is delayed overnight or cancelled until the next day, the first thing he does is call an airport hotel to make a booking. No need to wait hours and hours for the airline to provide a cheap hotel and meal coupons. The Professor relaxes in a hotel and has a nice meal, all paid for with the travel insurance policy. Lost/delayed bags - no worries, insurance has you covered. Missed flight (due to a covered reason) - the travel insurance company will help. Need to cancel a trip (again, for a covered reason) - the insurance company protects your investment.
Book Early: Better seat selection is the main reason for booking early, especially if traveling with a family or booking with award miles.
Get to the Airport Early: In traveling to Europe this year, The Professor encountered 2-hour security screening lines in Dublin and heard of even greater horror stories in Amsterdam and London. Many airports let you check the length of lines on their website. But some airports (Oslo, Bergen, Paris) had no lines. This is one reason for having the next tip.
Join the Club: Airline clubs are a great way to spend time before flights or during layovers. Enjoy a relaxed atmosphere, "free" food and drink, access to dedicated agents, and clean restrooms/showers. "It's expensive" I hear you saying. For instance, American Airlines Admiral's Club membership ranges from $550 to $650 per year. Day passes are about $59. Membership is free with certain credit cards. But look at it this way, lunch for 2 sandwiches and 2 drinks at an airport fast food spot is probably going to be between $20-$25. Double that (at least) if sitting down at a restaurant in the airport with a cocktail or two. For a person like The Traveling Professor who visits the lounge about 25-30 times a year and gets "free" access for me and my travel companions with my Citibank credit card, it is well, well worth it. Do the math for yourself. Another added benefit of being in an airline lounge is access to agents who can help with issues regarding flights.
Fly Early in the Day: The fact is, less delays happen earlier in the day rather than later.
Pack Light and Carry On Only: Carry-on luggage doesn't get lost, but don't be the person who holds up the whole flight because your bag won't fit in the overhead compartment.
Pick Your Seat: Got a connection to make? Take away the stress of waiting 15 or 20 minutes to get off the plane. The Professor will pay the $20 or $25 it takes to be closer to the exit.
Be Flexible: Stuff is going to happen. There is weather, mechanical issues, long lines, packed-to-the-gills flights, etc. Stay in a good mood and take it all in stride. It can't be changed.