Advice From Fellow Travelers
Dress for a safari. Those travel jackets with pockets all over the place are great for stashing your valuables and knickknacks when going through security. "I wear a bolero-like travel vest with inside pockets: one for my air ticket, one for my passport, and maybe a few for other needed extras like money. The money one always has a zipper. The vest easily slips on and off for the security gates and is invisible under an outer jacket." Janet Livesay, Lake Oswego, Ore.
Pack for productivity. One way to weather a delay in the terminal is to plug in your laptop and get a little work done. But power outlets can be scarce. "Carry a 12-foot extension cord in your computer case with a three-prong adapter, to be able to piggyback off that one elusive power outlet that some kid has usurped." Guy Horanberg
Claim your space. You might not get that empty middle seat right next to you, but there are ways to discourage fellow passengers from invading your space. "This may be not so nice, but my biggest complaint is the individual who throws his or her seat back into my lap so that I cannot even move. I discovered that by turning the overhead air nozzle as far forward as you can, it blows air on the person's head. Most people give me a look but move their seats forward." Phil Alexander, Wadsworth, Ill.
If something goes wrong
Do simple contingency planning. If your flight is canceled, what's your plan? Better to think it through ahead of time than when you're standing in line with 100 other people. "Always have the airline's 800 reservation number with you. Worked for me twice in the last year when my flight was canceled. Airline reservations had me on the next flight out without standing in line with the whole planeload of passengers. Also carry the flight schedule showing other flights on the day of travel so you can know what is available." John Hagensick, Orange Park, Fla.
Don't take no for an answer. Always be politebut if you're trying to get rebooked or you're asking the airline for a favor, make a firm, reasonable case and ask to talk with a supervisor or customer-relations official if necessary. "When 'negotiating' with supervisors and customer relations, try to argue your case based on logic. Even if they have a policy that doesn't allow for something, supervisors can sometimes waive the policy if the argument is rational." Leslie Goldfarb
Use the club. At many airports, the big airlines have "clubs" with separate waiting rooms and dedicated agents. There's an annual fee, but many carriers also offer day passes for about $50which might suddenly seem pretty cheap if an agent at the club can quickly resolve a travel snafu. "Besides offering an oasis from the crowds, they can handle rebooking and get you wait-listed for a future flightand the lines are usually much, much smaller." Dave Olenzak, Washington, D.C.