Frequent Flier FAQ: Advice I Wish I Had Before Flying This Year

8/28/2022 – Photo from Chelsea Little

This summer, I have tried to fly four times total; only one of those flights has gone off without a hitch. That flight was perfect. The plane was quiet, the flight was smooth, and I didn’t have anyone trying to take over my seat the entire time. Most importantly, the flight was on time and actually flew. My other three flights, not so much.

My first two flights of the summer didn’t even make it off the ground. Canceled while I was on the bus to the airport, my first flight was rescheduled for three days later. My second flight was delayed and then canceled again for a flight the following day. And my third flight was delayed for 30 minutes only 30 minutes before boarding, and then 30 minutes again.

It is hard to not be annoyed when sitting in an airport and hoping that a plane will do what you paid it to do, and as someone who has been there four times in the last two months, I can say I completely understand. However, in a time of uncertainty with airlines (with the pilot shortages and pilot strikes), annoyance and anger will only put you on the top of everyone’s TikTok For You page as the next Karen. Here are some things I have learned as a frequent flier these last few months that I had wished I had known before stepping foot in the airport:

1.) The Front Desk Folks Cannot Give You a Refund

When my first flight was canceled, we were already on the bus to the airport, our car was already parked and paid for, and all of our trips were already planned. So we had to take that flight; we couldn’t wait three days. We got in line with the Southwest front desk, hoping for a refund. This was a mistake. The folks at the front desk do not have the ability to grant refunds, only switch your flight, and when all flights are canceled, the lines get incredibly long, incredibly fast. We ended up waiting in that line for two hours, only to learn that a phone call would have sufficed. So, when in doubt, call the customer service line first before stepping foot into any long lines. It might save you some precious vacation time.

2.) Try Not to Check Your Bag, If You Can

I have been so grateful during these four flights that I did not need to worry about the possibility of losing my checked bag during the uncertainty of 2022 airport travel. Once your bag is checked, the airports have your bag, and any delays and cancelations add another level of uncertainty to your already shaky travel plans. By traveling with only carry-on, I haven’t had to worry about any lost bags or concerns about getting my bags back when my flights were canceled entirely, unlike many of my fellow potential passengers did. It was a welcome relief to have my bag in my sight the whole time, even if it did mean slimming down on my packing during the days before.

3.) When in Doubt, Take The End Seat

Hear me out on this one. For years, my biggest fear with flying has been that my ears will bubble during the flight and that the final 15 minutes of the flight will be excruciating as the air in my ears fails to match the pressure around me. These past few flights have allowed some trial and error though, and come to find out, sitting closest to the aisle seems to alleviate these issues. So, even though the window seat is ideal, if you aren’t feeling the best or even just have a tendency for airplane ears like me, try the isle seat next time rather than investing in another pack of gum.

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