I worked for a major airline in Los Angeles. I’ve learned a thing or two about the processes and procedures of airlines and a few tricks to make travel a lot easier.
Check-in online ahead of time — Do not wait until you get to the airport to check-in for your flight. If for any reason you are running late and you haven’t checked in you may get bumped.
Read ticket restrictions — It is your responsibility to know the rules regarding your ticket purchase including bag cutoff times and checked baggage fees. Most airlines have a 30 minute bag check cutoff before a domestic flight.
Your ticket is cheap for a reason — If you purchased a lower fare the chances are very good that your ticket is restricted. You probably won’t be able to select your seat ahead of time. You will have to pay to check your bag and you will board the plane at the end of the boarding process.
Don’t harass the gate agent — It is one thing to ask a gate agent if there are any other seats available. It is another to berate the staff because (see #2 & 3). If it is important for you to sit with your spouse, friend or kid, do not book a restricted ticket. And don’t yell at staff because they are not able to accommodate you.
Get to the airport early — you’re going on a trip you should be excited. Don’t run late.
Third-party tickets — Of course you can find great deals on 3rd party websites, but realize that airline staff can’t assist you or make any changes to these tickets. If for example your name is spelled wrong. If chose the wrong date. If anything…. you have to contact the website. Period.
Hidden City Tickets — Certain website promote hidden city tickets, where you book a ticket with a layover and get off the plane on the layover instead of continuing on. ALL airlines will check your bag to the final destination. If you book a flight from LAX-ATL-ORD and you want to get off in Atlanta, your bag will be going to Chicago. Oh, so you think you’ll just carry-on? Since these are usually the basic economy fares, you will board the plane last. If all bins are full your bags will be checked at the gate…. to your final destination. It will be your responsibility to get your bag back.
Check visa requirements — Airline staff are required to verify that your passport and visa information is current for the appropriate country. FAA rules prohibit airline staff from allowing a passenger onto a flight without the correct documents. So if you show up to the airport with 3 days left until your passport expires, you aren’t going anywhere.
There is no TSA Pre-Check in foreign countries — Just because you are allowed to take certain items through TSA in the US does not mean you will be able to take the same items through security in an international airport. Check the regulations before you depart.
Be Nice — Airline staff are just doing there job. Do not take your fears of frustrations out on them. And also realize yelling and being an outright nasty person isn’t going to get you your way. It can actually have the opposite effect.