5 Unexpected Things that Can Ruin a Flight. Don't Let That Happen.

Don’t let unexpected snags ruin a trip during the upcoming holidays – or any time. We’ve got solutions for problems you can fix and coping mechanisms for those you can’t.

LISTEN: Travel expert Rick Seaney’s been there. Oh, has he ever.

1. Lost ID

Ever done this? As you approach the TSA airport security line, you reach into pocket or purse and – no driver’s license. Where did it go? More importantly, how will you get through security without your precious ID?

What you can do: TSA officers are used to this and have a procedure which involves pulling you aside for a few questions and maybe a slightly-more-rigorous-than-usual screening. I’ve known people this happened to and they said it only took a few extra minutes.

2. The gadget that doesn’t work

You forgot to charge your electronic device, or the seatback screen with free channels isn’t working.

What you can do: First of all, check to see if there’s an outlet by your seat (you did remember your charger, didn’t you?) but the main takeaway is always start a trip with all devices fully charged.

As for the broken seatback screen, ask a flight attendant if there’s an empty seat you can use, but the chances of that these days are slim to none. Three alternatives:  1.) Mentally compose a message to the airline to send later (“My flight was great except for one little problem with my screen”) because who knows, if they’re feeling generous, they might come up with a voucher; 2.) Sit back, relax and take a nap; or 3.) Open up the SkyMall catalog and start your holiday shopping. Or combine all three.

3. Food issues

An employee on a recent flight was happily devouring a bag of peanuts when an announcement was made: “Please do not eat peanuts; we have an allergic passenger onboard.”

What you can do: With luck, you’ll have brought another snack from home. Otherwise, let’s hope you’re on an airline that gives you a little something extra (both JetBlue and Southwest offer a wide-variety of free snacks while Delta’s Biscoff cookies are always good). Otherwise, bite the bullet so to speak and buy something off the in-flight menu but be sure to have a credit card since cash transactions have  mostly disappeared on U.S. airlines.

Important note: Do not keep eating your peanuts; on a  plane, a crew member’s word is law.

4. Carry-on sent to Siberia

You’re one of the last to board the plane and there’s no bin space by your seat; the flight attendant takes your bag and parks it 20 rows behind you.

What you can do: One enterprising passenger waited until the seat belt sign went off and made his way to the fellow seated by his bag and politely asked if he’d grab it upon landing and pass it forward (if there’s any hesitation, offer to buy him a drink). Then the passenger slowly made his was back to his seat, stopping at each aisle seat to ask those passengers if they’d be kind enough to take the bag and pass it forward. All agreed and it worked like a charm.

5. Where to lodge complaints

Your checked-bag is lost but you flew two carriers; who gets the blame – and the bill for those toiletries you had to buy?

What you can do: First of all, next time use a carry-on. Meanwhile, responsibility for bags lies with the airline that delivered you to your final destination. Go to that airline’s website, search ‘lost bags’ and fill out the form. You may have to wait a few (or several) days.

Important note: We have information and links to complaint forms dealing with all aspects of a travel experience.



Published: October 30, 2014