Business Travel

Airlines: when they do well in the midst of travel frustrations

Complaints about airlines, rental car companies, and hotels seem to be more the norm than the exception. Certainly, most of us have had an unsatisfactory experience with some travel service provider. However, I recently found myself pleasantly surprised with how well my airline reacted to what could have been a very frustrating situation.

On a Delta Air Lines flight from Washington D.C. to Seattle, I missed my connection in Minneapolis due to weather. I arrived at the Minneapolis airport at 11:00 p.m. and there were no other flights to Seattle until the next morning. Since the delay was due to weather, the Delta was not obligated to make arrangements for their passengers. However, all the hotels near the Minneapolis airport were sold out. I could have stayed at a hotel downtown, but by the time I’d have arrived, I would have only had a couple hours to sleep before needing to go back to the airport to catch my early morning flight. Another option would have been to take a later flight, but then I would have been traveling most of my work day. I decided to spend the night in the airport.

It was amazing to see how Delta did their best servicing us through an unavoidable event. A wonderful agent let those of us who’d decided to sleep over know that Delta had futons, blankets, and pillows for us. She guided us to a business center area, where cubicles became our overnight station. We only had a few hours to sleep but that little bit of extra comfort went a long way. The agent also brought us snacks and water from the aircraft. It certainly wasn’t the best of conditions, but it was better than trying to sleep in a seat in the airport waiting area or staying up all night.

Weather delays and airport sleepovers can make even the nicest person a bit cranky, but it helped that Delta’s staff was pleasant and helpful. So yes, we all will experience the negative aspects of travel at some point, but maybe if we try to see the positive sides of things, those frustrations would be smoothed over much more easily.

Business Travel Travel Industry Travel Tips

Tips for Business Travelers Who Miss Their Flight Connection

Most of us have experienced a flight delay while traveling for business, right? How about a flight delay that resulted in a missed connection? What did you do about it? Did you feel like you had support during this time?

I recently flew United Airlines from Honolulu to San Francisco and then onto Salt Lake City. The flight from Honolulu departed approximately 10 minutes late. This was not a problem considering we had an hour to connect and would be arriving in the same terminal as our connecting plane. However, upon arrival into San Francisco we were held on our plane for more than 40 minutes as we waited for our gate to open. This wait seemed to last an eternity knowing that I was going to miss my flight and that there was nothing I could do.

But worrying wasn’t going to help the situation, so we kindly asked the flight attendant to make an announcement to allow the connecting passengers off the flight before the rest of the plane de-boarded. It was really all we could do at that point.

Since then, I’ve thought about this experience and wanted to share a few more tips for other business travelers who might be facing the same situation. And if you have any additional ideas, please share them in the comments below.

Business Travelers: What To Do if You Encounter a Flight Delay that Results in a Missed Connection

  1. Ask the flight attendant to make an announcement to allow connecting passengers off the flight before the rest of the plane de-boards.
  2. Turn your phone on and use TripIt alerts to find out where your next gate is. This really helped me hurry because I didn’t have to find a monitor in the terminal to look up my gate.
  3. Ask the gate agent for assistance. If, upon arriving at your gate, you find that the door has closed, it doesn’t matter. They won’t let you on even if the plane is still there. But make sure the gate agent helps you find an airline ticketing counter or help desk.
  4. When at the ticketing counter demand assistance, professionally of course. If you don’t get the answer you want, ask for a supervisor or insist on additional help. When I went to the ticketing counter I didn’t get the answer I wanted and I thought “being nice” was going to be best. However, had I asked more questions and demanded a supervisor I could have been compensated for my hotel stay.

Remember, you are the customer and the business traveler. You do have rights and the airlines do have a commitment to make sure their travelers get to their appropriate destination.