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A 5-Step Checklist for Handling Air Travel Woes on the Go


After a summer of horror stories about flying, the considered airline travel might make you queasy. A recent Tech Fix column detailed several suggestions for planning a better journey, but what are you able to do if that journey is disrupted en route? Here’s a plan for using your smartphone as a travel aid when you hope for the perfect — but prepare for the worst.

In case you haven’t done so, download the official apps for the airlines you’ll be using in your trip. You’ll have signed up for travel alerts by text or email once you booked your flight, but you may get notifications within the airline app, too — together with tools that turn out to be useful when plans go awry.

Credit…Google; American Airlines

A weather app that shows you the conditions in any respect your flight-connection points is beneficial for advance planning. And if inclement weather or airline issues cancel your flight, having apps for hotel chains, car-rental services and even train schedules already installed can provide help to quickly book a spot to remain for the night or find alternative ground transportation.

Most airline apps offer mobile check-in and digital boarding passes 24 hours before takeoff, in addition to a standing screen to see in case your flight is on time, delayed or canceled. (Airline notifications also provide you with a warning to changes within the flight’s status.)

If a flight is delayed or canceled, it’s actually because the designated plane is behind schedule on a previous task. Some major airline and tracker apps include a “Where’s My Plane?” feature that shows the present location of the aircraft assigned to your flight. In case you see that your plane is late arriving and also you’ll miss your next connection, you may immediately start the rebooking process.

Credit…United Airlines

Third-party flight-tracker apps work across multiple airlines and supply additional information, like worldwide airport delays. Flightradar24 and FlightAware (each free with in-app subscription purchases) or the free basic FlightStats are amongst the numerous options for Android and iOS users. Flighty for the iPhone ($6 a month; various plans can be found) monitors air traffic, detects disruptions to your flight plans and alerts you straight away.

For a straightforward flight status, just type the airline and flight number into your chosen search engine.

Stuffing all the pieces right into a carry-on solves lost-luggage worries, but when you do check a bag, you would possibly have free luggage tracking. Delta Air Lines and other carriers have been using radio-frequency identification tags on checked bags for several years. You possibly can get updates in your suitcase’s location by tapping the Track My Bags button in your airline’s app.

Credit…Delta Air Lines

In case your carrier doesn’t offer bag-tracking, you don’t trust it otherwise you’d somewhat do it yourself, consider slipping an affordable location-reporting device like a Tile or an Apple AirTag into your suitcase and tracking it together with your smartphone.

In case your flight is delayed and also you’re stuck at an unfamiliar airport, fear not. There are maps to assist in your quest for phone-charging stations, coffee and other essentials. Your airline’s app may already include airport maps, as do some flight-tracking and travel apps.

Credit…Far left, American Airlines; left, Virgin Atlantic Airways

Apps dedicated to airport layouts can be found, but programs you most likely have already — like Google Maps and Apple Maps — often have terminal maps.

Credit…Apple; Google

And if you will have a flight connection coming up, check the map to familiarize yourself with the layover airport. It’s possible you’ll must hoof it at high speed to make that next leg of your trip.

In case your flight is canceled, jump right into the rebooking process in your phone. Most airlines allow you to reschedule through their apps or web sites, and it’s almost all the time quicker than dialing the customer-service line. (Visit your airline’s website for information on its specific rebooking process.)

If no seats can be found, it could be possible to transfer your ticket to a different airline, but ask your original carrier. If not, Google Flights or travel-booking sites like Kayak or Expedia will show alternative flights. But when you’re grounded for the day and the airline doesn’t provide a voucher, fan the flames of your apps for hotels — or alternative travel methods when you desperately must get to your destination.

In some cases, you might have travel credits or refunds for canceled flights coming to you. Corporations like AirHelp can guide you thru a claim, but some bank cards include trip interruption insurance already, so inquire when you paid with that card. The Department of Transportation’s Aviation Consumer Protection site has a page of resources online already, and a recent interactive dashboard for frustrated travelers is anticipated by Sept. 2.

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