missed connections

Besides the billions in income, airlines benefit from travel agents when things go wrong during travels. Airlines have been cutting staff, which means less customer service. So having travel agents dealing with many customer service and flight rerouting problems is a bonus for the airlines.

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Instead of calling or lining up or even going online to have an agent rebook a flight where there has been some kind of travel disruption, travelers now get messages about possible or probable missed connections, along with a new alternate flight. The rebooking systems are good but, by no means, perfect.

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All the special attention in the world for this very frequent flier wouldn’t have averted a near disaster on her return when her flight from Europe was accidentally canceled.

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United Airlines with their code-share partner Swiss may have come up with the best minimum connecting time, or rather, worst, I’ve seen — a 30-minute connection to an international flight, with two different carriers, in two different terminals, at JFK Airport.

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While flights have a scheduled departure time, the gate agent will close the door to the plane ten minutes before departure. Which, depending on what side of the door you’re on, can either mean a huge sigh of relief, or a delayed or even ruined trip.

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Sometimes good airline customer service has a ripple effect. Here is a story where everyone ended up winning because a smart customer service rep took action to head off a possible problem.

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In theory, minimum connecting time is a simple number — the amount of time it will take a passenger to make a connection between two planes. But, not only does it vary by airport, it varies by airline and whether the flight is international or domestic.

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While skipping a long line to talk to an agent may sound appealing, here are four times it’s not worth it. It’s not that the automatic program can never find an alternative, but it never hurts to double check when possible and be more pro-active.

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New computer systems are scanning airilne reservations looking for cancellations. When traveling, should you miss a connection, reconfirm your return flights the following day. It may save lots of time at the airport.

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Some trips are just not meant to be easy. Some itineraries really don’t have a great solution. Once upon a time, my client needed to fly from a small city in Poland to a small city in Spain…

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