Probably the easiest way to sidestep the inevitable “flight boondoggle” is to reconfirm your flights a few days ahead of your travel date, making completely certain you’re leaving when you expect to be. Even in the era of automated emails and iPhone apps, it’s highly recommended you do so. After handling a good deal of calls into AirTreks over the years, I’ve seen countless emergencies that could have been avoided with a simple call to the airline or a website visit before the flight.
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To reconfirm doesn’t meaning checking in or telling the airline you’re coming, but to make sure the flight departs according to the printed itinerary in your hand. These days airlines have a bad habit of changing or rearranging their schedules by either syncing with a cheaper landing slot, suddenly partnering with a codeshare friend departing earlier or later, or at worst, simply removing the flight from their schedule altogether.
Of course, it’s not a big deal if the difference is a few mere minutes. However, often the new schedule is dramatically different (even up to a day or more), leaving you in the lurch if you didn’t know about it ahead of time. On complicated itineraries like AirTreks often uses there may be connections on different airlines completely unwilling to wait up for you if you’re coming on a delayed or altered schedule.
While overseas, there are several ways to reconfirm your flight:
- Visit the airlines’ website and check the flight schedules/status there.
- Contact the airline directly by phoning them locally. You can locate toll-free numbers and websites at the following: http://www.airlinetollfree.info
- Ask the hotel/hostel concierge to call the airline on your behalf.
- Go into a local travel agency and have them contact the airline for you (foreign agencies almost always have English-speaking employees).
- Visit the airline’s in-city ticket office. Often a national carrier will populate their major cities with offices were you can speak with an agent on site.
- Email or call AirTreks to have us reconfirm any flights we booked for you.
- Finally, if you’re only staying in a city a few days, you can always stop at the check-in counter before you leave the airport and reconfirm your departing flight right then.
Don’t forget to verify your flight number and each flight’s date and time when reconfirming (simply asking, “Am I confirmed?” may not tell you that the flight is leaving at a different time than you’re expecting).
Another handy way to make sure your flights are operating as expected it to give the airline a local contact number (such as a hotel or hostel) or else your email so they can attempt to notify you of any last-minute changes.
Remember, always have your ducks in a row to avoid surprises at the airport. Staying one step ahead of the airlines will save on headaches later on. The airlines don’t have your best interests in mind, but with a few minutes spent two or three days before your flight, you can laugh all the way to your seat.
*photo Haneda International Airport, Tokyo via Creative Commoms by Hyougushi