By Quentin Fottrell
It’s the night before Thanksgiving and everything has gone according to plan. Early arrival at the airport? Check. A quick read of Pay Dirt’s tips on how to avoid a flightmare before and air rage after you are on the flight? Check. Seat assignment made so it doesn’t get given away while browsing in duty free? Check. Non-stop, direct flights booked? Check. But even if some passengers do everything right, they can still get stuck at the airport unexpectedly for hours.
Beware of upgrade requests. When passengers are stressed out the airline’s offer of extra seat room can seem tempting. Delta Airlines is just one airline that offers an extra 50% recline than Economy, early boarding, complimentary alcoholic beverages, plus four inches extra room. It’s the upper-middle class of airline travel. However, it costs $80 to $180 one-way. However, for those with a long pair of gams, George Hobica, founder of AirFareWatchdog.com, has a list of legroom upgrades for those who are willing to pay for it.
Make nice with airline staff. Temper tantrums will usually get you nowhere – especially if the delay is due to airborne congestion or problems that began at another airport. Hobica says too much too much attitude (or alcohol) at the airport can lead passengers into the arms of the security rather than those of smiling air stewards. “Flash a little smile, ask how they’re holding up during all of this crazy holiday hullabaloo, offer a compliment, be nice,” he says. Playing nice can also put passengers on the list for a free upgrade to business class.
Dress up to the nines. This works for single passengers who have time to spare and who are in the mood for romance, which is less expensive than shopping in the duty-free area. But it can also mean you get more respect. As Pay Dirt reported, frequent flyer Kate Hanni, founder of FlyersRights.org, says the politeness of airport staff surges when she dresses up: “I’m treated with a great deal more respect than when I’m wearing jeans or sweatpants on my return flights home from Washington DC.”
Get pampered for free. Harriet Baskas, author of “Stuck at the Airport,” knows how to seek out free fun activities as she waits for her flight. “Defeat the delay,” she says. She recently compiled a list of the best things to do at some of the country’s 13 busiest airports – some of which are free. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has an extensive art collection and piano bar to relax in, for instance, and Denver International Airport has a glass pedestrian bridge where passengers can go plane spotting.