13 Things Airlines Don’t Want to Tell You (But Every Flier Should Know)
From how to get the best seats to disgusting airplane habits to avoid, get these insider secrets to a safer, cheaper flight.
Here’s what a safety demo doesn’t say:
We dim cabin lights at night so your eyes are adjusted to the dark if you need to find a way out. We put up tray tables at takeoff and landing so passengers next to you can escape if needed. And you should open your window shade, so if there’s a crash, firefighters can see inside. Make sure you never do these 18 things on an airplane.
If your flight is overbooked…
… don’t accept the first $200 voucher we offer. We typically keep increasing the offer until we have enough volunteers willing to give up their seats. If we don’t get enough volunteers and have to bump you involuntarily, insist on cash compensation instead (many airlines will write you a check at the airport). Department of Transportation rules say you’re entitled to as much as $1,300 in cash, depending on your ticket price and how long you are delayed. If your flight is overbooked, these are your rights as a passenger.
Booking a group trip?
Search for only one ticket at a time. If you search for, say, four tickets, and we have only three at the lowest fare, all four are bumped to a higher price bracket.
Lost your luggage?
Don’t delay reporting it, even if the lines to do so are long. Most of us require you to file a report within a very short time period. If you miss the deadline, your claim may be denied. This is what you should do next if your luggage is lost.
Our pilots can’t eat together
Some airlines don’t allow two pilots flying together to eat food from the same source within an hour of each other. Either they have to eat at different restaurants, or one waits at least an hour to make sure the other doesn’t get poisoned or sick.
Our seats really are getting tinier
You’re not imagining it. In the Boeing 777s used for long-haul international flights, we recently shrank the seats by one inch so we could fit an extra seat in each row. Try these tricks to sleep well on an airplane.
If your flight is cancelled…
… get in line at the ticket desk or the gate counter, but also get on the phone. You’ll probably reach an airline phone agent before you get to the frazzled agent behind the desk. This is the most (and least!) delayed airline to fly with over the holidays.