There’s some mystery in what airlines tell you about themselves and for the regular traveler we thought it best to enlighten you as to some of the main “mysteries” about airline travel that may make your travels less stressful and more enjoyable.
This information and built-in tips may not only answer some questions, but also help make your traveling easier.
1. Why They Dim The Cabin Lights
Cabin lights are dimmed at night so your eyes are adjusted to the dark if you need to find a way out. And you are requested to 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.
2. When “We’re Overbook”, Sorry
Don’t accept the first $200 voucher airlines offer. They typically keep increasing the offer until there are enough volunteers willing to give up their seats. If they 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). US 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.
3. Why Pilots Eat Separately
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.
4. The Lost Luggage Problem
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.
5. Why They Shrank the Seats
Money, obviously. You’re not imagining it. In the Boeing 777s used for long-haul international flights, airlines recently shrank the seats by one inch so they could fit an extra seat in each row.
That means you need to be ready to get a seat with extra leg room or change seats (see below)l
6. Watch Your Tray
You don’t want that pretzel you dropped on the tray table. Most airlines don’t clean trays between flights. Before you touch anything, clean it with sanitizing wipes.
7. Why Push Up Your Cabin Shades On Takeoff and Landing?
In the event of a runway emergency requiring evacuation, the cabin crew will open the doors of the aircraft, the chutes will deploy, and passengers can slide out to safety.
Part of the emergency procedures for the crew before opening a door is to examine the condition of the ground and aircraft outside the door for blockage, leaking fuel, and especially fire.
8. Making Time Between Flights
Leaving a window of at least an hour and a half between connecting flights will significantly drop your chances of missing your flight or having your luggage lost. Having only 45 minutes to connect between flights might seem doable — not to mention the siren call of less lag time spent hanging out at a dismal food court — but it’s often not enough, especially in large airports where the gates could be far apart. Don’t rely on airlines to do the math for you, either.
9. “Sorry, We Had To Cancel Your Flight”
… 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.
10. Watch the Price Comparison Websites
It’s becoming harder to use the price comparison websites like Orbitz or Trip Advisor, which airlines pay a fee to every time you book through them. So ariliines are making it harder for you to use them.
Some airlines (Delta, Southwest) don’t release fares at all to certain third-party sites.
11. Know When To Switch Seats
Check the seat map about four days (100 hours) before your flight. That’s when the airlines start upgrading fliers from coach to business and some of the best seats open up.
12. Know what you’re entitled to
If the airline cancels your flight, they will offer to put you on another one. But you should also know that even if you have a “nonrefundable” fare, they will give you your money back if you ask.