After a summer filled with flight horror stories, the mere thought of traveling by plane could cause distress. What can you do if your trip suffers a disruption along the way? Here are some ideas for using your smartphone as travel assistant while you hope for the best but prepare for the worst.
Check your apps
If you haven’t done it yet, download the official airline apps What will you use on your trip? You may have signed up for text or email travel alerts when you booked your flight, but you can also receive notifications from the airline app, as well as other tools that come in handy when plans go awry.
A weather app that shows you weather conditions of all connecting points on your flight is helpful for planning ahead. And if inclement weather or problems with the airline cancel your flight, having already installed hotel chain appscar rental services or even train schedules can help you quickly book a place to stay for the night or find alternative ground transportation.
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check your flight
Most airline apps offer check-in on your phone and digital boarding passes 24 hours before your flight, as well as a status screen to check if your flight is on time, delayed or cancelled. (Airline app notifications also alert you to flight status changes.)
If a flight is delayed or cancelled, it is usually because the designated aircraft is late on a previous assignment. Some of the major airline and tracking apps include a tracking section. “Where is my plane?” which shows the current location of the aircraft assigned to your flight. If you see that your plane is going to be delayed and you will miss your next connection, you can immediately start the rebooking process.
Third party flight tracking apps work across multiple airlines and provide additional information such as delays at airports around the world. Flightradar24 and FlightAware (both free with paid subscription options within the app) or the basic free app flight statistics are several of the many options available to Android and iOS users. Frivolous for iPhone ($6 per month; various plans available) monitors air traffic, detects disruptions to your flight plans, and alerts you immediately.
For a simple flight status, just enter the airline and flight number into your preferred search engine.
check your luggage
Putting all your things in a carry-on solves the worries of a possible loss of luggage, but if you end up checking a bag, you may have the free option to track it. Delta Air Lines and other airlines have been using it for years radio frequency identification tags in checked baggage. You can get updates on the location of your bag by tapping the Track My Bag option on your airline’s app.
If your airline doesn’t offer baggage tracking, you don’t trust the service, or you prefer to do it yourself, consider placing an inexpensive location-reporting device like a Tile or Apple AirTag inside your bag and track it with your smartphone.
check the airport
If your flight is delayed and you’re stuck in an unfamiliar airport, fear not: maps exist to help you find phone charging stations, coffee, and other essentials. Your airline’s app may already include airport maps, as do some travel and flight tracking apps.
Hay dedicated airport mapping applicationsBut some programs you may already have — like Google Maps and Apple Maps — usually offer maps of the terminals.
If a connection is coming up on your flight plan, check the map to familiarize yourself with the airport where you’ll be connecting. You may have to walk at high speed to be able to reach the next stage of your journey on time.
Check your options
If your flight is cancelled, immediately begin the rebooking process on your phone. Most airlines allow you reschedule through your apps or websitesand it’s almost always faster than dialing the customer service phone number. (Check your airline’s website for information on their specific rebooking process.)
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If there are no seats available, you may be able to transfer your ticket to another airlinebut ask your original company. If not, Google Flights or travel booking sites like Kayak and Expedia will show you alternative flights. But if you’re going to be without a flight for the rest of the day and the airline doesn’t provide you with a coupon, open your hotel apps, or alternative travel methodsin case you need to get to your destination urgently.
Occasionally you may receive travel credits or refunds for canceled flights. Companies like AirHelp can guide you through making a claim, but some credit cards already include trip interruption insurance, so ask about it if you paid with such a card. The Department of Transportation’s Aviation Consumer Protection website now has an online resource page, and a new interactive dashboard for frustrated travelers is expected to roll out by September 2.