Airline vouchers for giving up your seat or getting bumped can generally only be used on flights operated exclusively by that airline. They can’t be applied to codeshare flights, even though codeshare flights are available for purchase on your airline’s website.
If you’re flying from, to or through an airport that frequently experiences weather delays, schedule your flight so you’re there as early in the day as possible. If your flight is delayed or cancelled, the more flights in the day there are after it, the better your chances are of being re-booked on an alternate flight without being stranded overnight.
Domestic airlines will not pay you for cash, electronics, jewelry, art or antiques lost, damaged, or stolen from your checked luggage. Put these things, and anything else of “irreplaceable value” in your carry-on bag instead.
Book everyone’s flights in one transaction to guarantee the tickets will be truly linked. This will generally gives everyone traveling on the reservation the same baggage allowances and makes securing seats near each other in the plane more likely. It also makes re-booking easier in case of a missed or oversold flight.
Long travel day? Many European airports (and train stations) have clean public shower facilities. Ditto for airline lounges in the US.
Checking in online 24 hours before your flight reduces your chance of being bumped from an oversold flight (as departure time approaches, airlines are more likely to bump passengers who have yet to show up or check in).
Airlines’ liability for your lost checked bag is $3300 on domestic flights, $1131 on international. Your carry on luggage is the safest place for anything more valuable than that. Most carriers exclude claims for cameras, art, electronics and jewelry from this coverage also.
USDOT regulations give you the right to cancel any airline ticket, even a nonrefundable one, within 24 hours of purchase for a full refund. The only exception? If you’re booking less than 7 days before the flight.
Traveling as a pair on a flight that looks mostly empty? If it has 3 seats in the row, choose the two outside seats. Since middle seats fill up last, it will likely stay empty. If it does get taken at the last minute, you can switch with the person sitting there. If not, you get a little extra elbow room!
Wondering if your flight is delayed or you have been rebooked? Updated information is often available more quickly on the airline’s app than to gate agents making announcements the boarding area.
The GlobalEntry program will let you bypass the long and slow passport control line when returning from most international flights. Tied directly to your passport, it costs $100 to apply but remains valid for 5 years.
Try to plan travel between the final week of August and the final week of March. This is the “off-season” in Europe and flights will generally be dramatically cheaper and less crowded.
Two quick ways to tell if you’re about to book a codeshare/partner airline flight: if the itinerary contains the words “Operated by,” or it’s a 4 digit flight number (1000-4999 generally indicate a regional carrier; 5000+ generally means a flight on a different carrier).
Always register for the frequent flyer program of any airline you’re flying on (even if you’ll likely never fly them again). This way you can log in and choose seats, check flight status, and see if there are any special perks available to you that you might not otherwise know about.
After your trip, you’ve probably got a ziploc bag full of half-empty toiletries from your carry-on luggage. Don’t toss them or try to use up the last of them at home. Put the bag in your desk drawer or your car’s glovebox for those emergency situations where you need to freshen up unexpectedly.