2022 marked the celebration of my 25th birthday and I made a super last minute decision to visit Dallas and Houston simultaneously for a week. I booked a nonstop flight to Dallas from Memphis with American Airlines. To say the least, it was complete chaos in the airport that morning. The lines seemed to wrap around the entire building, people were screaming on the phone with customer service, and families were turned away from the ticket counter. Not to mention outside of just my experience, there has been continous waves of flight cancellations, lost baggage, and lack of employees for airports and airlines. With all of the craziness happening, it's important to be prepared mentally and physically for traveling the remainder of the year. Here are 5 tips for avoiding some of the chaos!
Top 5 Travel Tips to Prepare for Your Next Trip
⏰ Arrive to the airport earlier than you normally would. I’m def one of those travelers that arrives 30 minutes before boarding 😂 but the lines have been SO long for checkin, bag drop, and TSA. Not only was there a line for the ziosks to check in to your flight, but there was an even longer line for the bag drop. This is where I was extremely grateful I avoided all of those issues with my Gold priority status with American Airlines. I stood in line for about 15 minutes and was able to check my bag and move straight to TSA security.
Another call out with arriving early is that some airlines have checked bag cut offs. If you're plane is leaving within 45 minutes, it is less likely they will check you into your flight because they can't gaurantee the bag will get on the plane in time for departure. The family of 6 in front of me had been standing in line longer than I was, but since the first family at the counter was in a rough situation it caused us to wait longer. Once the second family walked to the counter, the desk agent explained they would all have to rebook because they reached the 45 minute cut off. What the heck?! I instantly became worried that I also would have to rebook. Once I got to the counter I had JUST made it in time and had 50 minutes before my departure, otherwise I would have had to rebook as well. Arrive to the airport the minimum two hours ahead, but if you can, arrive earlier in case of long lines or customer issues that may impact your wait time.
💼 Avoid checking a bag. If you can, get a carryon suitcase that is the exact dimensions allowed on the plane. You are allowed one carryon and a personal item, like a backpack. Many airlines are losing bags or don’t have the employees for baggage handling which is impacting flyer's lost baggage. For majority of my domestic and international trips I avoid checking a bag. Noted, most of my recent trips are a max of 4-5 days and have been within the caribbean, or Latin America. Any trip that is up to a week and across the world would still require a checked bag more than likely. But, you can still pack SMART. Try to pack less and distribute the clothing between a large backpack and nice sized carryon. Then you will avoid standing in long bag drop lines, or worry if the airline will lose your bags. Not only that, if you have your airline app and checked in online, you can go directly to the TSA security line. This has saved me alot of time and stress from standing in lines knowing I will get through security fast and be on my way to my gate.
If you have to check a bag, purchase an apple air tag locator. In case the airline cannot locate your bag, you can track it yourself by connecting the apple air tag and inform them so they can return it to you. Or heck, go and get it yourself!
📱 Download your airlines app to check in & get your boarding pass. Instead of checking in at the kiosk, you can download your airlines app and check in via your phone. The app will produce a QR code that you can use to go through TSA and scan at the gate to board the plane. You will also get timely updates on cancellations, gate changes, or flight updates.
✈️ Not only should you pack smart but you should book smart! The type of flights you book can provide less stress for your next travel destination. Here are a few options to consider when making your next booking:
- Book Earlier flights: If your first flight is delayed, you have a better chance on getting on another flight later in the day and still arrive to your destination at an ideal time.
- Book nonstop flights: Nonstop flights erase the stress around flight changes or cancellations. You also won't have to worry about running to your next flight if your first flight was delayed. If you can't book nonstop, make sure your connection time is long enough to get to your next gate just in case your first flight is delayed. Sometimes the gate agents are aware of the first delay which will impact you catching your next flight. And *sometimes* they are nice enough to wait to see if you are sprinting to the door before closing it. Always have your running shoes on and be prepared!
- Book one connection or less: As said above, having less stops allows for less drastic changes or cancellations to occur. Try booking with airports you are already familiar with and tickets with the same airline.
- Book travel insurance: Use a travel credit card to book your next flight or purchase the travel insurance offered by the airline. These insurance companies can provide reimbursement for extra fees associated with disrupted flights. This can help if you didn't plan for unexpected hotel or food costs associated with your delays.
🐢 Be patient and try to treat customer service and agents with kindness. It’s not their fault flights are being cancelled, delayed, or bags are missing. We all need grace sometimes! Flight delays can be frustrating especially if you've made plans upon arrival. The best you can do is find something to keep you busy and be patient. We all want a safe departure and arrival and sometimes that means ensuring the pilot arrives, the plane is in wonderful working condition, and that all of your bags are loaded to the plane. Think outside the box on how the workers are just as stressed with less employees, constant flight cancellations from people above them, and even having no updated information to share to help you at times. Be kind and thank them for their help.
Traveled lately and experienced the craziness? Let me know in the comments 👇🏾👇🏾👇🏾