By the way, I never told you how my trip to Richmond went, did I? It was a lot of fun! That is, until I had one amazing race to get back home. And I'm not talking about the fun one they show on TV. I'm talking about one where I had to go against our common foe: trip interruption.
The short of the story is: I arrived at the airport in Richmond in plenty of time to catch my flight out to Cleveland, and on to Columbus. The flight was oversold, and also heavily delayed by Cleveland. My best bet was to reserve me a ticket on another flight going out the next day. I waited patiently, hoping that the trip delay would work itself out and I could still get home. I was especially patient when I found out I wasn't alone - many others had a connection to make in Cleveland, and at least 10 of them were going to Columbus.
Because of all the people depending on this flight, there was a small chance they would hold the plane for us at Cleveland and not have a major trip interruption on their hands. With boarding formalities skipped, we boarded in record time. But despite our best effort, we were too late to get Cleveland, and the flight left without us. The carrier helped us out by putting us in a hotel and feeding us. And Superman was there to help us out - so overall, not too shabby.
The next morning, all of us are rebooked on the next flight out to Columbus. But with so many missed connections, the plane was oversold once again. My trip interruption was about to extend - as I surrendered my standby seat to a soldier in uniform. But to be nice about extending my trip delay, the carrier gave me a travel credit - and offered to help me with a rental car.
So my trip delay has come to an end, right? Not quite: the rental car was twice as much as the amount of the voucher - so once again, my trip interruption grew. I went back to the airport, hoping to stow away somewhere for the 143-mile trip between Cleveland and Columbus. Luckily, I was able to whimper my way onto the next flight out: the never-ending trip delay was over, and I was back to work by lunchtime dressed like something off a country & western album cover - just in time to walk straight into a meeting with our regional CEO.
This trip interruption consisted of two days, five flights, one hotel night, and about 600 miles. It was an excellent exercise on how to manage a trip delay - and a reminder of how lucky I am. If the airline didn't help me, travel insurance would have made a big difference in my pocket.
So here's what I did to make the trip delay more negotiable:
- Be nice to EVERYONE
Have you ever heard the saying about catching flies with honey? That absolutely applies in this situation. I don't care if someone gave you a dirty look. Or prevented you from being on the next flight. Be nice to EVERYONE you meet. From the gate agents who are getting mobbed, to your fellow travelers: a laugh and shrug will get you a lot farther in a trip interruption than yelling. Just make sure all of your jokes are appropriate.
- Be flexible
Trip delays are an unfortunate and common part of air travel anymore. And there are many factors that go into that: weather, airline consolidation, and ticket availability. With that, you can avoid a trip delay if you are flexible about your travel plans. Plan your trip with wiggle room (a day on one end or the other). This way, if or when you experience a trip interruption, you can meet it easily and not have to worry about obligations at home.
- Join ALL the travel programs
This is something I talk about often: if you're not a member of all the programs, join them. Because of my trip interruption, I got bonus airline miles, hotel points, and (almost) extra rental car credits. Do it right, and that equates to free trips in a hurry!
How do you manage a trip interruption? Please share with me your tips in the comments below - because frankly, I could really use them!