There is a secret known by all experienced air travelers. What do you do if you arrive for your flight late? There are many reasons why this might happen. There might be an extra-long line at the check-in counter or at airport security. Perhaps there was a traffic jam or you could not find a place to park. In any event, you get to the gate too late. What do you do next? Of course you ask the airline to put you on another flight. But, the secret is that the airline will reschedule you to the next flight FREE – of extra charge, even if your ticket rules requires a fee for change! The reason for your being late does not matter. Western airlines (American and European) are fighting to get customers and will do anything to keep customers happy. The airlines have found that it is more profitable to put you on the next available flight and send you to your destination at no additional cost than to lose you to the competition. In this case your loyalty to the airline will increase and you will stop using other competing airlines. Russians usually do not believe in getting flight change for free. When we wrote about this secret in a Russian Internet media, we received comments like that: “What a stupid idea! You, guys, apparently never took a flight!”
Here is another situation. Your airline delays your flight or cancels it altogether and you are late for the change to the next flight. The airline, of course, offers to schedule you on yet another flight on which there are seats available. Well, if the flights are frequent you might lose only a few hours. But what do you do if the delay or changeover would be a day or more? This does happen, but rarely. The simplest solution is to ask the airline staff to route you through a different point of transfer to your destination. That way you may lose a few hours but not an entire day or more. It is even more effective to ask the airline on which your flight is booked to send you to your destination on another airline using the same ticket. Do not hesitate to request this! U.S. airlines are very willing to “pick up” foreign passengers in this situation because they understand that this way they will acquire a very long-term and loyal customer base. If there are seats available you are sure to be put on a flight of a competitor. No additional fee is charged in this case!
Sometimes you purchase a ticket that involves several stops and layovers with flight segments that are on different airlines. In this case even a small delay can cause you to miss a connecting flight. In the event of a tight connection, you should ask the airline on which you are traveling to arrange for a more speedy transfer to the next gate or to the other terminal for you. In some cases the airline will arrange for a car to be waiting at the tarmac to take you to the next gate for the continuation of your flight.
Think ahead when planning for your next trip. Decide in advance what you will do if certain situations arise. Check to see if there are alternate flights that can get you to your destination. For example, if you fly Delta airlines from San Francisco to Moscow with a change in New York and the flight to New York is late (causing you to miss the New York to Moscow flight) then there are two more opportunities to fly to Moscow the same day. There is an Aeroflot flight that usually leaves New York two hours after the Delta flight and then there is an Air France flight that would route you through Paris to Moscow.
Sometimes passengers whose flights are delayed are stuck at the point of transfer and are forced to spend the entire night there. Western airlines usually pay for the hotel and dinner in that case. You should consider how you will spend your time if this happens during your flight. For example, if you are flying from Moscow to San Francisco there are more interesting things to do in New York than in Atlanta, or in Paris rather than in Frankfurt. But, what do you do if you are flying to/from the U.S and there is a long delay in the connecting flight in Europe but you do not have the proper visa? Simply ask the airline employees to help you get a one-day visa to enter the city. As a rule, in such cases one-day visas are quick and easy to get.
When planning for your trip you have to decide what to take with you. Should you check baggage or just take “carry-on” luggage. There is limited carry-on space on most airplanes. There are pros and cons for each alternative. If you check baggage then it is possible that your luggage will be on the next flight segment before you are. If you are transferring to another terminal the airplane for your next flight will be waiting for you. If your luggage is aboard but you cannot make the flight the airplane will not be permitted to leave the gate without you. So, the airline will be forced to identify your luggage and remove it from the plane before it can depart. Unloading your staff can take some time. Experienced travelers have learned to take advantage of this. It makes sense to check in a piece of luggage if you have a tight connection. You will have some extra time to make the flight because the airline will wait few minutes before start indentifying and unloading your luggage.
On the other hand, if you have all of your belongings with you in a carry-on the plane will not wait for you. Again, experienced travelers have learned to take advantage of this situation as well. Imagine that upon arrival in Paris you must transfer to another airline, in another terminal, and that the connection time is only 45 minutes. Well, you should go very slowly. Buy a Coke, perhaps, and drink it slowly or do something else that take up time. As a result, your original flight leaves without you. But, the airline schedules you for another flight. This is exactly what you want! You now have several hours to tour the beautiful city. In only a half-hour you can get to the Paris North Station by train, and enjoy the city for a few hours!