Surviving Your Flight – Advice on Dealing with Airlines and Airports

With all the stories of horrible airline practices lately, it’s important to remember—there are ways to survive! When it comes to traveling, there is always something that could go wrong. One of the places this happens the most is at the airport and with airlines… Here’s some advice from experienced travel bloggers!

I have had some horrible interactions with some awful airlines, but that is for another post. I spent MONTHS trying to figure out one flight situation and ended up without a resolution. I’m actually on that flight right now (I wouldn’t recommend a third party site for international flights, long story short)—UGH! For now, I want to share advice that these awesome travel bloggers have for you. They have dealt with airlines and delays in airports first hand! I know you’ll love these stories and the advice they have for you on dealing with airlines and airports.

Note: HUGE shout out to all the bloggers who shared their stories with me. Their stories are seriously wild! Enjoy, and hopefully, you learn something from them, too!

 

Delayed as a Queen with Jet Airways

 
 

“I was flying to Delhi from Amsterdam with a short layover in London. Because of a short delay in Amsterdam, my layover in London would be very tricky. I ran through London airport, and I was lucky because there were no lines in security. I made it out of the airplane to the right gate in less than 15 minutes right at the moment the plane started boarding. Finally, I thought I had made it and wiped down the sweat from my forehead.

When I showed my boarding card though, the steward looked rather concerned and asked me to sit down in a corner. Every 10 minutes someone would come to tell me not to worry. First, they said they will get me on this plane, but the next time they told me they would try to get me on the plane, the plane left without me.

Rather upset and stressed, they took me to an office and explained that they assumed I would not make it with my delayed flight from Amsterdam and gave my seat to someone else. I got my ticket refunded and was flying business class the next day. For the night they put me up in the Radisson with free dinner, breakfast, and lunch. This delay could not have a better end.”

Advice: Don’t get stressed and upset, sometimes a delay can have a great ending!

 

Freezing in Doha

Pinelopi of Maninio

 
 
“My story starts when I resigned from my last job in Qatar after 9 years of working in the country. When a person decides to live in Qatar, you have to cancel your working visa, your house contract, your bank—pretty much every balance you have in the country. The company I was to work for agreed I would travel home to Greece and return back to Qatar in October to close up all the rest.
 
However, due to the new management, I had to arrange all my pending things as soon as I arrived in Doha and not in October. This meant that I would be losing my flight to Greece, I would have to arrange a place to stay, I had to pay 2,000 euros for the house and had to stay in Doha for at least 10 days, in the middle of the summer, to arrange everything. No way!!!
 
So my only choice was to stay in Doha airport for 20 hours until my flight to Greece and not exit the Doha airport, which means I did not have all my things with me, and I did not have enough cash due to my card problem. But I had no choice…
 
As a transit passenger for 20 hours, I was entitled to a hotel room in Doha, the problem was that I had to have an exit permit to re-enter the airport! Oh yes! Regarding the hotel airport, it was full so I could not even get to the lounge area. Moreover, there was no blanket available. Pretty fab, right???
 
The first 4-5 hours passed quickly, discovering the airport, eating, drinking, and surfing on the internet. After those hours, I got bored, as its really a small airport and not much to do. Around 10 at night, most of the shops start closing up and the nightmare starts…
 
The temperature in Doha airport is freaking cold!!!!! Remind you, that I just only had my summer clothes and no jacket at all, except for one pashmina. Everything was in my transit luggage and a few of them in Doha. I was also wearing summer shoes and not sports / warm ones. I had more than 15 hours to go so I start walking and walking and keep walking around until I get warm. But in vain! I could not get warm. After a while, I start keeping visiting the stores for hot drinks. I think during my transit I had around 8 drinks until I ran out of cash.
 
When I arrived in Athens where my friend came to pick my up, I had my luggage in front of me where I had laid over it, and honestly, I could not even speak or walk. I was still under freezing conditions. That night I slept for more than 12 hours…
 
I barely survived that night in Doha’s freezing airport.”
 
Advice:  ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS take warm clothes with you, no matter what. You never know what will happen and for how long you will be stuck in the airport. Especially if you are in Doha airport. Oh, and keep cash with you—do not spend everything up to the last cent. 
 

Booking the Wrong Flight

Christina from Our Sweet Adventures

 

“Adam and I were flying from St. Louis back to D.C. and had a layover in Atlanta. For weeks he had been asking, ‘What time do I need to drop you off at the airport?’ As the stubborn woman I am, I would shrug him off and say, ‘We can check later.’ So during our layover, two days before I am supposed to leave for Houston, Adam asks me again to check my flight. I finally obliged, and when I went to my account, I had an email from Southwest that read check-in for your flight tomorrow, I thought to myself, ‘Well that cannot be right, my flight is in two days.’

WRONG! I quickly learned that I rebooked my flight a day early. Prices to change my flight were astronomical. Frantically, I called Southwest only to be placed on hold for 40 minutes. We had boarded the plane when I finally reached someone only for them to tell me they needed to transfer me to someone else. So during my hour and a half flight, I was panicking. I was literally scheduled to leave for this wrong flight in 6 hours, and I was still in the air.

When we landed I did the only thing I could think of—I went to Southwest’s baggage claim. A woman named Lana asked if we needed help, and I almost cried telling her my situation. The first words out of her mouth were, ‘I can change that flight for you with no charge.’ I said, ‘What! You can?’ We ended up going to the ticketing desk only to find that it was locked out, and she couldn’t change my flight. Lana did not take no for an answer—thank goodness. She said the computers would open at 4:15am, and she would change my flight then. We exchanged numbers, and I gave her a tip as a thank you, along with a hug as I almost broke down in tears.

I waited for her phone call at home, but it never came. So I called her, no answer. I called again, no answer. The third time I called I left a voicemail. At this moment I started to freak out again and called Southwest on Adam’s phone. They quickly picked up but did not give me the answer I wanted to hear. They said it would cost me $300 extra to change my flight even though I told them Lana was changing it for free. This woman was not budging, but low and behold Lana called me on my cell!

Lana came through!!!! She told me she changed my flight, but it was not a direct flight anymore—I didn’t care! She apologized for not calling sooner—she got tied up with something—but told me she always keeps her word. Yes Lana, yes you do! She told me that sometimes you just need the right person.

I truly got lucky in this situation and let me tell you… I learned my lesson. I am no longer going to be stubborn and check my flight two days beforehand! I’ll check it immediately and weeks before my departure. Thank you, Lana!”

Advice: Always check your flight far in advance so that you are prepared for your flight! If you have a problem, try talking with someone in person for faster responses.

 

When Your Flight Gets Cancelled

 

“I cannot forget, even if I try hard, that this happened in one of my favorite destinations—and I never wanted anything to be screwed with this one at least—Paris! 2 years ago…

My husband and I landed at Charles de Gaulle airport, Paris from Schipol, Amsterdam, excitedly waiting for our baggage to arrive so that we could go around sight-seeing, as per our very limited 3-day itinerary. The baggage belt stopped, and our worst fears came true when our luggage did not come through. We were told that since our connecting flight time from Munich was less, our luggage could not be loaded. We were promised to be delivered our luggage the same night by 8 pm. It was 10 am when all this happened.

Long story short, we did our sightseeing and even climbed the Eiffel tower with travel clothes. Our bags arrived 24 hours later at 12 noon the next day.

Fast forward to the last day: we were taking a flight out from Paris to Berlin — flight time at 1:30 pm. We reached well on time at 11:30 am since this was a domestic flight between Schengen countries. At the check-in counter, we were informed by Lufthansa that our flight has been canceled due to an Air Traffic Controllers strike. We were not informed on email, call, or SMS. After a lot of arguments (for almost 90 minutes), they arranged to accommodate us on the next flight at 1:30 pm. By this time it was 1 pm, and the boarding was complete. After discussing with managers and higher authorities, we were finally given food coupons and tickets to Berlin by a flight at 8:30 pm. We spent the entire day at the airport doing absolutely nothing (well, only relishing those yummy macaroons).”

Advice: Keep trying when you experience an issue, and hopefully they will be able to accommodate you.

 

Delays Become Missed Connections

Linn from Travellinn

 

“I was on my way home after hectic days of work in Paris, and since I had barely been to the city before, I decided to book the last possible flight back so I could see some of Paris as well.

I am sure you can all relate; once you have started the journey back home, you just want to get there. As fast as possible. It started well with the efficient train to the airport, almost no line at the baggage drop as well as through security. The trouble started at the gate. First, it was a delay, but I still would have time to make my connection in Frankfurt. I had ran through those corridors before… But that is a different story.

Further delays were announced, but I was still hoping for miracles. Off we went, and it was just when we were starting the descent I realized my luck was out. It was obvious that the man in the seat next to me also acknowledged the same, and we started talking. Back down on the ground, the process of re-booking and getting a hotel started. Since we were already walking and talking, we went to the desk together to get everything sorted out. We were first offered a room together, maybe not that strange since it might seem that we had known each other longer than 40 minutes. We did had a friendly tone, but not that friendly… Leaving the Lufthansa desk, we had two hotel rooms, and two (!) taxi vouchers to take us to the nearest available hotel, ONE HOUR away! Since we did not have a flight out at the same time the next day, we were not going to share a taxi back, so then we had to take separate ones from the airport as well. None of us could understand the logic, driving side by side at the German ‘Autobahn’.

Arriving at what seemed to be a truck stop, it was late evening and pitch dark, except for the bright light from the yellow M at the McDonald’s right next to the hotel. This was also where the super friendly hotel staff would run across the street and get us all dinner after we were checked in. Eating the burger accompanied by a cold beer (we were in Germany after all), the group of about 10 people in the same connection-missing situation were making the most of it, laughing and making jokes. A good end of the chaotic evening.

Back at my room, I opened the ‘female overnight kit’ I got at the airport since the luggage was kept overnight. It absolutely contained a lot, but I cursed myself for not doing as I usually do in case my luggage gets lost (only happened once though. Again, a different story…)—always bringing clean underwear in my hand luggage. I was after all on my way back home, so I would have plenty in my house anyway. Lesson learned for next time I missed my connection. Or?… Well, no… But that’s a different story.”

Advice: Always bring clean underwear in your hand luggage.

Damaged Plane Means Big Delays

Kris from Nomad by Trade

 

“I had a unique flight delay on Spirit Airlines recently. We boarded ahead of schedule and pulled away from the gate right on time. It had been snowing all day in Denver, so the plane had to be de-iced before we could take off.

Suddenly, we felt a big jolt, and the plane swung side to side. There were no announcements from the crew, but I could tell something was wrong. Eventually, the captain announced that one of the deicers had clipped our left wing, and maintenance had determined that we couldn’t fly. After well over an hour’s delay, we got clearance to drive back to another gate and all deplaned.

It was a late evening flight, so there was no way to get home that night. Spirit wouldn’t rebook anyone on another airline until the flight was officially canceled, which management wouldn’t do. The plane held almost 200 passengers, and all we could do was stand in line waiting for the announcement to come.

I would’ve killed for a portable power pack for my phone, whose battery was rapidly draining as I contacted my boyfriend and my boss and searched for alternative flight options. I had my charger with me, but leaving the line to plug it in would’ve resulted in me being the last one to get rebooked, and I was holding fast to my number 5 spot in line. My phone ended up having to be plugged into my laptop, and since the USB charge only works when the laptop is on, I couldn’t shut the lid, so I just stood there holding onto my laptop for over an hour.”

Advice: Always bring a portable power pack when you travel. You never know when you’ll need it.

 

These stories of delays, cancellations, and miss-bookings are terrible, but hopefully also helpful. Mistakes and mishaps can help us all on our next trips! We can’t always avoid this craziness, but being prepared to deal with them is a whole other issue. Hopefully, these stories can help you face your next travel blunder.

Meghan

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