This is not just another typical blog post on how to navigate the difficulties of air travel today. Almost all blog posts will recommend the obvious like getting Global Entry and arriving at the airport early. The Professor presents some tips that you probably have not hear yet regarding dealing with the complicated air travel environment of today.
Have a Good Travel Insurance Policy Covering Cancellations and Delays: Years ago it was debatable if travelers should carry travel insurance at all. Now it is a must. A good travel insurance policy covers delays, cancellations and lost/delayed baggage. If there is an issue with a trip, don't wait around for the airline to take care of it. For instance, The Professor had a flight from Boston to Reykjavik cancelled and rescheduled to the next day. The first phone call he made was to the airport hotel to get a room, all paid for with travel insurance. Without waiting hours for the airline to take care of it, if they would even take care of it at all, The Professor was enjoying room service in his nearby hotel room, all paid for by travel insurance.
If You Don't Succeed, Try Again: We are finding the experience level of airline customer service agents varies. For instance, we had a client who had a flight cancelled. She called the airline trying to reschedule. The customer service representative would not put her on a replacement flight that she wanted. A few hours later, the client called again and got a different customer service agent who solved the problem immediately. By the way, there is NEVER a reason to be rude, argue, or demanding of customer service agents - as I said, many are inexperienced and are just doing their job as best as they can.
Call the Foreign Langauge Customer Service Line: Even travelers with airline elite status can have hours-long waits on the phone to get to customer service reps. However, if you speak a foreign language like Spanish or French, you might be able to call the foreign language customer service lines and get an agent immediately. Also, if airline websites have online chat options, that might be faster too.
Only Purchase Airline Tickets Directly from the Airline: Do not use Expedia, Orbitz, or any website other than the airline website to purchase tickets. When a problem arises, the airline will direct you to those websites to resolve any issues. That just adds another level of frustrating bureaucracy and delays in the pursuit of getting the problem fixed.
Avoid Flying Through London LHR Airport on a Connection: By far, this is the most difficult airport to travel through. There are long distances between connecting gates with uncomfortable bus rides, long security lines, meticulous security checks, and overcrowded terminals.
Please Don't Check Luggage: The Professor is finding more luggage being delayed and lost these days. Yes, you can pack everything in a carry-on. If you insist on checking a bag, don't put any essentials that you can't live without (meds, travel docs, a change of clothes) in that checked bag and make sure to have travel insurance covering lost luggage. It wouldn't hurt to be able to track that bag with an Apple Air Tag.
Plan International Flights Arriving in Europe in the Afternoon if Possible: On a recent trip, The Professor had an option of arriving in Paris at 08:00, 11:00 or 12:45 pm. He selected the 12:45 flight. The reason being is that if he arrived early in the morning, he would probably need to wait around for hotel check-in time. Another reason is that the majority of flights from North America arrive in Europe early in the morning making for long passport control lines. By arriving later in the day, the traveler can go directly to the hotel and check in and avoid the chaos of an early morning in the arrival airport.