Always Pack Extra Underwear
“Always pack extra underwear,” Mom said to me as a newbie traveler. There are no truer words than these. Everyone complains about travel, particularly air travel. There are lines, waiting, more lines, more waiting, no personal space, delays, sprinting between flights, and more. No one really likes that part of travel. Part of making air travel a little more bearable is always being prepared.
Yesterday, everything seemed to be going well on my international flight day from Baltimore to Japan. As we were about to board the airplane in San Francisco, the announcement was made about a maintenance issue which would delay us by 30 minutes, which lead to an hour, to 2 hours, and finally to the flight being cancelled. Stuck in San Fran is what I am.
Here are some tips to make the unexpected a little easier.
1) Always pack extra underwear
This one is important! After a flight cancellation, the airline does not want to dig out your bag and give it back to you. They just don’t want to or have the manpower. We were informed we would have to wait an additional 2 hours if we wanted our bags returned to us for the night.
Mine took a little over 90 minutes- they were not lying. The baggage reclaim guy was trying to convince people to only claim luggage if they had medication in their bags. The lady next to me and I rolled our eyes- unless you are giving us money for clean clothes and undies, we really must have our bags. Therefore, pack some clean clothes just in case!
2) Be flexible and ask questions
Up front I told the customer service agent that I had to get to Japan by 6pm the following day. She worked with me and is getting me there a few hours early! Yay! Always be nice- they didn’t cancel your flight or break the plane. (of note, if your flight is cancelled due to weather and not an airline problem, they will not help other than to rebook you)
Crowne Plaza Forest City room- home for the night:
I asked customer service for meal vouchers when we were first delayed and United complied. It wasn’t much but it made me happy I did not pay for my $12 salad in a plastic container.
Eventually I received more vouchers when they cancelled the flight. Try to find some local flavor with your vouchers either in the airport or at the hotels (which will sometimes take them as well).
3) Always carry-on chargers and stuff to do
We were delayed a few hours before the outright cancelling. I wasted by phone battery pretty far down and would have been screwed had I not had my charger with me.
Books, newspapers, calling your family- catch up on the things you always wish you had time for. I’m halfway through a new book, finished a blog post, hit the hotel gym, spoke with my mom, and read yesterday’s and today’s USA Today. (side note: I really love reading an actual newspaper!)
While my travel plans have not gone as planned it was much more pleasant than anticipated. Expedia, for all of their faults, was able to get me a full refund on my hotel in Japan for last night! Yay! I was able to stay at a nice, clean hotel and relax-cutting my travel day into two more manageable sections instead of one really long day. And I got to drink some delicious California wine on United Airlines dime!
Making the most of my cancelled flight vouchers!
United Airlines was pretty good too. $21 for food (which will not enough but it is something), the Crowne Plaza Forest City hotel room with nice amenities, $125 future flight credit (I could have chosen 6250 United flight miles), and a new flight out today. As far as things go this wasn’t such a bad travel story.
It is sad that these wings are Asian Spice wings and not actual wings in Asia. Hopefully today goes off without a hitch!