Travel glitches happen year-round but it's worse during holidays because more of us error-prone humans are crammed into airports and planes. If something happens, do you know what to do? Here's some guidance for specific problems.
1. Your flight is canceled or delayed
What to do: Getting in touch with an airline representative who can help is your main goal so stay calm so you can get on the next flight out. Try these three strategies:
--Find the shortest line in front of an airline rep and join it, while you
--Contact the airline on Twitter, often the fastest way to get a response
--Remain in line as you try to get someone on the phone. When flights are canceled or delayed you need to cast a wide net to find a real human being to assist you.
2. Lost a phone
What to do: Try to remember where you last had it but if you can't recall, make the security checkpoint your first port of call; many airport security offices have hundreds of left-behind phones and electronics and they'd like nothing better than to reunite them with the owners. If you don't have time while in the airport, the TSA has a list of lost and found offices on its site (just enter airport name or code). If the phone was lost elsewhere, most airline and airport websites include contacts for lost and found or just search 'lost and found' and the name of the carrier/airport.
3. Left ID at home
What to do: This is not necessarily a deal-breaker for getting through security but you will be questioned and this will take a few minutes so get to the airport early. You may be able to speed things along by digging through purse or wallet for any papers/documents with your name on them or by having a travel companion standing-by to vouch for you. Answer questions calmly and thoroughly. Don't take it out your frustrations on the officer; he or she isn't the one who forgot their ID.
4. Bag is lost or damaged
What to do: If the bag is damaged, do not leave the airport without filling out a form at the baggage office (usually located near the carousel); if you don't report a problem immediately, it can be argued the damage occurred after the flight and you will get nothing. If a bag is lost, be sure to provide as many identifying details as possible; some veteran travelers keep a photo of their bag on their phone for precisely this reason. If the bag is missing long enough for you to have to buy toiletries or clothing, save all receipts or you won't be reimbursed. Remember, the vast majority of bags are rarely gone for good.
5. Passenger in front reclines too far/ seatmate hogs armrest
What to do: Politely ask the offender to give you a little more space; a conciliatory "we're all in this together" tone may help. If it doesn't, don't get mad, get the flight attendant; it's one of the things they're trained for so let them work it out.
6. Flight attendant asks you to do something you feel is an imposition
What to do: Do whatever he or she tells you to do; the word of a crew member is law on a plane. If you push back, you could be declared an unruly passenger those passengers are sometimes removed from planes, even met by police. Is reclining your seat all the way really worth it?
Rick Seaney is an airline travel expert and the co-founder of FareCompare.com, an airfare comparison shopping site