Holiday flights on the mind? Upgrade: Travel Better has a great post with five tips for well-prepared fliers — if your flights are delayed or cancelled, following Mark’s advice will reduce your chances of being stranded.
Since I’ve already got my airline’s customer service number memorized (in case of emergency), I took action on Mark’s #2 tip:
2) Know your alternatives.
Carry the airline’s timetable, or a list of alternate flights to your destination, which can be downloaded or printed from any airline’s website. This is useful when you try for a rebooking or want to go standby. Let’s say flights are delayed two hours across the board. The previous flight might still be waiting to push back from the gate. Check the timetable you brought with you and make a beeline for that earlier flight. Try to stand by and get out early, instead of waiting for hours for your scheduled itinerary.
BONUS: Don’t forget alternate routings if trying to rebook. Just because you’re scheduled to fly from Raleigh to Los Angeles via Chicago doesn’t mean that’s the only route you can take. (E.g., maybe you can fly via Dallas instead.) Having an electronic timetable is great for this. Ask airline agents about specific route alternatives — they may not look them up if you don’t ask for them by name.
I downloaded the airline schedules for my alliance of choice and charted every possible alternative for each leg. Even if I don’t need it for this trip (knock on wood), I’ve got a better sense of my options next time I’m booking tickets.
Find links to the downloadable schedules of the world’s major airlines after the jump.
SkyTeam (Delta, Northwest, Continental, Aeroflot, AeroMexico, Air France, KLM, Alitalia, China Southern, Czech Airlines, Korean Air, AirEuropa, Copa Airlines and Kenya Airways)
Oneworld (American, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, JAL Japan Airlines, LAN, Malev, Qantas, Royal Jordanian)
Star Alliance (United, U.S. Airways, Lufthansa, SAS Scandinavian Airlines, Air Canada, Air China, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana Airlines, Austrian, bmi, Egyptair, LOT Polish Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Spanair, swiss, TAP Portugal, Thai, Turkish Airlines, Adria, Blue1, Croatia Airlines)
On the sorry state of U.S. air travel:
Tools you can use: