Here Are The Most Common Travel Headaches And How To Cope
By Leah Freeman-Haskin
No matter how diligently you plan for your upcoming getaway, there are some common travel headaches that are completely out of your control. Here are some simple tips to help get you through those hair-raising moments when you are thousands of miles from home.
Lost Or Delayed Baggage
We all know that feeling when you’ve been staring at baggage claim for what feels like hours waiting for your luggage to appear. So, when it doesn’t, what do you do? If your bags are on the next flight, you could have them within a few hours. If they’ve been sent to the wrong airport, it could take a couple of days. Try not to panic, and prepare yourself for either scenario. Make sure to file your claim immediately at the airport and give the attendant a hotel or home address, as well as a phone number where you can be reached. Typically, the airlines will deliver your luggage to you, so you don’t have to return to the airport. And don’t forget to grab a reference number for your claim, so you can follow-up with the airline if it’s needed.
If your luggage is lost and can not be located, make sure you get a written claim for damages. The maximum an airline pays on lost bags and their contents is currently limited to $3,500 per passenger on U.S. domestic flights. It’s important to note that airlines typically have a long list of items for which they will not be held responsible; these include jewelry, money, heirlooms and other valuables. These items should always be left at home or packed in your carry-on bag.
Contrary to popular belief, there are actually no federal requirements for airlines to compensate passengers whose flights are delayed or canceled. However, it’s a bad look for airlines to leave their passengers stranded with no compensation, so they will typically take steps to minimize the costs and inconveniences.
If your flight is canceled, the airline typically rebooks you on the next available departure. You can also simply request a full refund, or rebook yourself on an alternate flight via the airline’s website or customer service line. You shouldn’t have to pay any change or cancelation fees. If the canceled flight forces you to stay at the airport overnight, most airlines will try to put passengers up in hotels, on the carrier’s dime – if you don’t live in the area. Most airlines will only do this if they are responsible for the cancelation, due to a mechanical issue, crew delay, or similar matter.
Traveling with kids is difficult enough, but traveling with sick kids can sometimes feel like a total nightmare. First things first, check with your child’s pediatrician to make sure it’s ok for them to travel, especially if you are traveling by air. Although it’s often easier to delay a road trip by a day or two, it’s not so easy if you have a plane to catch. Call the airlines and find out what their cancelation or change fee is. Having a doctor’s note on hand or simply explaining the situation may help to get you a discount or refund. If you plan on moving forward with your trip, be sure to hydrate, pack meds in your carry-on, changes of clothes, and give yourself plenty of time to catch your flight.
Ear pressurization on airplanes can be even more painful if you are dealing with a congested child, so hand them gum, food, or water for takeoff and landing to help ease the discomfort.
Lost Or Stolen Passport
According to the U.S. Department of State’s website, you should report your physical U.S. passport lost or stolen immediately to protect yourself from identity theft. You can do this online, by mail, or by phone. In order to get a new passport while you are still in the U.S. and will be traveling within the next 3 weeks, you’ll have to make an appointment to apply in person at a passport agency or center to replace your passport. If you need to request a new passport while you are currently traveling outside of the country, you will need to contact your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to replace your passport. The official list of U.S. Embassy’s by country is listed via this link.