The holidays are made for travel mayhem. The number of people mobilizing, the tight schedules, and the fact that airlines are always on the edge of complete breakdowns make December the perfect time for shit to hit the fan.
Still, it’s important to remember that in the midst of all this chaos you still have rights, no matter how much the airline is struggling and how bad you feel for the poor people working over the counter. They’re all dreading the holiday season just as much as you are.
Wired has built a neat little guide that’ll help you maintain your sanity when it comes to traveling, helping you tackle your journey as best as you can:
When You Get To The Airport
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To kick things off it’s best to get to know your enemy and prepare for delays and all the possible terrible things. Each airport is different when it comes to the comfort they provide and when it comes to how prone they are to delays.
Be prepared to wait but also be sure to get to the airport ahead of time. Anything can happen during the holidays, delays due to weather, or because there’s a lot of people, so it really pays to get there early. If your delay is particularly awful, you can talk to your airline and discuss the possibility of getting a flight on another airline. It’s a long shot, but you’ve got nothing to lose.
When The Airline Is Overbooked
When the airline inevitably starts asking if there are any volunteers who want to stay behind for a nice prize, you can decide to take the opportunity or to sit and wait. If you get bumped out of the flight regardless of your decision, you have the right to ask for a written notice that explains your rights and maybe even for a compensation check.
When On The Plane
If it’s been two hours, you’re still on the plane and it hasn’t taken off, the airline is legally required to provide food, water and access to the bathroom to their passengers. If they airplane hasn’t taken off in three hours, you have the right to leave the plane.
When You Arrive At Your Destination
Surprise! Your bag hasn’t made it to your destination! Classic holiday tradition. You’re entitled to compensation for your wait time, like enough money to buy some underwear and a toothbrush. You can also use social media to complain because that always gets the airlines’ attention.