After booking your flight:
• Check your flights regularly – while flight cancellations or delays are beyond your control, it still helps to be prepared. Always check your flight’s status 48 hours before your flight for domestic flights, and 72 hours for international flights. Most major carriers now notify passengers through email if the flight is delayed or cancelled, but this isn’t always the case. For the most up-to-date info, check the airline’s website about your flight status. Rearranging your schedule and travel plans would be difficult (and you’ll find less seats available) if you do it at the last minute.
• Do some research – Check the available alternate flights (or have your travel agent check it for you). You can also check what the other carriers’ flights are. This way, you’ll have a better idea (and be able to suggest) the flights you can be transferred to. Also, check out (and print) the Contract of Carriage (especially their Rule 240) of your specific airline on their website. Try to find out what concessions (such as free phone calls, free meal vouchers, free hotel stays) you can get.
• Be courteous and stay calm – Being polite doesn’t make you a pushover. Airline front-line agents are more willing to help a pleasant passenger than one who’s rude and obnoxious.
• Keep a record of your conversation – Note down the flight details, airline agent’s names, their location, position and other pertinent details. This will help you if you have to call more than once, or if you are going to speak to more than one agent. This will also be useful if you’re going to seek compensation after the fact.
• Don’t be afraid to take it to the top – Don’t be shy about asking to speak to a supervisor if you feel like the agent currently handling your case has done all he/she could, and a supervisor would have more power to help you. But be sure to ask for the supervisor in a tactful and polite manner. Don’t sound as if you’re asking to be transferred because you thing the current agent is incompetent, or you might find yourself deeper in trouble than you were originally.
Next post, I’m going to discuss airlines’ Rule 240.