Despite lofty promises to “fly the friendly skies” and so on, airlines — not one specific carrier, but all of them together — hold back when it comes to giving passengers all of the information they need to make smart choices. No, it’s not that airlines are outright lying (at least, not as a matter of policy!). Rather, whether you’re traveling for business reasons or heading off on a vacation with your family, it’s that they would really prefer that you didn’t know these 7 eye-opening truths:
- If there’s no room in the cabin to safely and properly store your carry-on, then the airline is obligated to check it for free.
- If you’re particularly nasty to the check-in staff, then there’s a very good chance they’ll sit you close to a (soon to be crying) baby. It’s how they take revenge.
- The so-called “first class line” at TSA security is totally bogus. There’s no such thing. Airlines simply add that little sign to impress first class passengers, and make them believe they’re getting an extra perk — or even better, convince economy passengers to splurge on their next flight so they can take the fast-track through security.
- The easiest way to get the cabin crew to hate you and treat you like persona non grata, is to hold up a flight because you didn’t hear the boarding announcements. Why? Because cabin crew only get paid when the main cabin door is closed.
- You absolutely want to bring aboard anti-bacterial disinfectant wipes, and the items that you want to target before doing anything else are the seatbelt buckle, and the seatback (or armrest) tray. The amount of bacteria, dead skin cells, and other organisms on these surfaces is alarming and pretty revolting, as this study points out.
- When airlines overbook a flight — which is common — they hand out vouchers that can be used for future bookings. Don’t bite! You’re entitled to cash (or more specifically, a check). And what’s more, you don’t have to wait weeks or months for your money. You get it on the spot.
- If an airline cancels your flight, then instead of lining up behind dozens — or perhaps hundreds — of frustrated passengers, jump on your smartphone and call customer service. The rep you speak with will have the exact same information as the counter staff, which means you could get that last seat on another flight before someone else. And if you have to wait a while before boarding, politely ask the rep if they’ll give you free access to the business class lounge (which has everything you’d want and more from modern office design, including workstations, charging ports, big screen TVs, snacks and beverages, and more).
The Bottom Line
The idea here isn’t that airlines are the enemy. But they are a business, and sometimes their profit (or just enjoyment, as in the case of sitting you next to the crying baby!) comes at your expense. By keeping the above in mind, you’ll find the skies much friendlier. Bon voyage!