This will be short and to the point, and by that I mean long-winded and hard to follow.
Flights get delayed, cancelled, changed, and who knows what else. It sucks, and there’s nothing you can do about it, right?
Part of any trip planning needs to involve the nitty-gritty details of what to do when things go wrong. Let me explain with the example today brought.
We were scheduled on a DL 5693, nonstop from MCI-LAX. It was the perfect flight to start our around the world, giving us a 4+ hour layover at LAX before heading across the Pacific (on a different carrier, avoid if possible). So, what did i do once I booked the flight?
1, Looked up the delay and cancellation %. It was terrible, almost 25% delayed/cancelled. Ugh. Not a good start. So, I booked first class, using pay with miles (not a good redemption, but saved cash) to allow for same day changes as needed.
2. Look up alternate flights ahead of time. I knew if something happened, there was a 5:00 Delta flight through MSP that would get us into LAX in time. Also, there was a Southwest flight a bit later we could book if everything really went bad.
3. I tried to look up where the plane that would take us to LAX was coming from. Its tough, with no one answer or place to look. Found out though, that our flight was coming from LAX with a short turn around. Good, now I knew what flight to watch for delays.
4. I obsessively checked flightstats.com to see if any delays posted. Sure enough, at about 3:00PM for a 5:30PM flight, it showed a 2:35 delay. This could destroy the whole trip. It was as easy as calling Delta at that point and switching to the flight that worked. Sure, we got a bit lucky there was space, but I’d checked the seatmap a few times and knew there were open seats. By the time we were landing in MSP, the delay had stretched to over 4 hours.
5. Hopefully it wont be necessary, but for the remainder of our flights, I have two possible options mapped out that would work to get us to our next destination.
I’m writing this from 34000 ft on a flight from MSP-LAX, arriving two hours later than planned but still getting where I needed to, all with much less stress than otherwise would have been. As we were getting our boarding passes, I overheard other passengers not knowing what to do, asking for help from the check-in agents who could do nothing as all other flights were full by then. I feel for them, but having a good plan going into this sort of thing is key.
Check out the email I got from tripit.com, (great little service, btw), our entire trip would have been ruined just because of our first flight.