Monday, February 16, 2009

inFLIGHTout Travel Tip: Know Alternative Flight Options

You trot on down to the airport two hours before departure, check-in, dance your way through security, and gracefully arrive at the gate in preparation for boarding. Just then you realize the flight has been cancelled. Gut reaction for you and the gate agent is to rebook everyone on the next available flight. What if it's the last flight out? What if later flights are booked to capacity? What do you do if there are 200 people from your flight already in line waiting to get rebooked on another carrier? Here is a solution that has worked for me quite well in the past:

Know alternative flight options. It's an exercise I perform each time I arrive at the airport. If I'm flying from say Chicago to San Francisco, a quick glance at the Departures board shows my flight is running 30 minutes late. Elsewhere on the board, I see a flight to Oakland on-time, leaving 10 minutes later than mine. This cues me in to a potential alternative should my original flight go severely delayed or cancelled. So if the San Francisco flight gets pulled, most passengers will be scrambling for the next flights to SFO leaving the next day, while a few wiser folks opt for Oakland and likely fly out that same evening. Know your alternatives!