How To Handle Transportation Problems With Airlines

This winter has seen even more transportation problems than before, and so many complaints going with them. In fact, I can notice that having some difficulties at one point during your trip, is becoming a norm.

I try to instil a will for travelling when I’m writing; I’m most certainly concerned about these increasing difficulties. Do they have to stop us from travelling? Certainly not! Do we have to consider them? Absolutely!

So How to handle these difficulties? Well, with grace obviously! Anger and aggressivity will lead you nowhere.

This post is not about legal advice. First because this is not my party, second because you must always consider such a choice. Of course, we have rights as citizens of a country, clients, and human being. But in some case, unnecessary use of these rights can transform your trip into misery. You must always think about the worthiness of such a step.

When can you “expect” difficulties?

Well, believe me on that point, you can expect problems anywhere, anytime, anyhow! I would even say that you should be prepared to have problems when you least expect them. Even better, you should expect problems when you least need them!

But always remember, “Keep Calm and handle gracefully!”

I’ll give you some tips to find a solution or at least manage the difficulty when it’s coming at you. But remember that seeing problems arise is a wise thing so you can prepare yourself. Creating issues, even if you are right, is never an easy thing to handle. Try to avoid this scenario as much as possible.

Transportation problems in a Plane

Remember that the crew is in charge of your security

I’m not going to lie, regarding planes, there’s not much you can do to seek justice against an airline company. If Europe has some tighter regulations regarding passenger’s management and compensations they can expect in case of difficulties, Northern America is much looser. But in any case, an airplane crew has the right to get you out of the plane if they consider you don’t behave appropriately. You can become a danger to other passenger and the flight. They take no chance, regarding the regulations, that means that the crew has “carte blanche.” And sometimes, they overuse it because just like you they don’t like people yelling at them.

I read a testimonial recently about a couple who was expelled from a flight and had to get back home by other expensive means. The disagreement started because they had some medications and wanted their carry-on right above their head. This compartment was full; their suitcase was fitting a little further. They were maybe tired, sick, worried, but in the end, they paid the hard price for insisting. They could have taken their medications in their hand luggage right at their feet.

They weren’t right anymore.

The couple chose to yell and argue. After they eventually got back home all they obtained was some excuses because one of the attendants dropped their phone when they were trying to make a video of him. Anyway, they are still a significant amount out of pocket, because the airline believes they were misbehaving. They may never have their money back and are probably in shock about what happened. So even if they were retired and sick, the crew has the last word because they didn’t stay calm.

Even when you do nothing wrong

In another newspaper, I read about this other couple, retired too. They had they tickets confiscated because their payment couldn’t pass the fraudulent control successfully. The crew never even check their identity. They had no warning and almost no explanation. They had to make their way back home by other means. At the time the couple didn’t know the reason why they had their tickets taken. They used the same card to successfully book tickets with the same company with no trouble at all!

They were retired lawyers, so they rightfully complained when they eventually arrived home. But they obtained nothing more than a lesson about how fraudulent payments “which are a real problem for customers!” The TV took the case “in charge.” At this point, they obtained the exact extra money they spent, not a cent more! In that case, they stayed calm and made no trouble at all, it was just bad luck for them that the computer decided they were maybe suspicious. Nevertheless, they barely obtain the minimum in compensation for the troubles, and that was thanks to a TV program! What I want to prove here is that airlines have all powers regarding their choice of embarking a passenger or not.

Try to take a different point of view

When you believe something is not right for you, try to ask for help and advice. Never expect to obtain something using aggressivity. It’s never a good thing to do. Maybe sometimes you can touch the sensible “losing a client” nerve. Anyway, regarding everything happening in an airport, you will only gain more delay, losing money, having a miserable time or even worse, you could be banned from flying, at least temporarily.

When a flight attendant tells you to do something, you can ask for an explanation, but you shouldn’t object. In the end, you will be the one who will be expelled from the plane, most of the time with no compensation or you’ll have to fight hard for them.

I have many stories about troubles with airline companies. But I will tell only one last. Recently I read a review written by someone I know who travelled from London to Morocco for the first time. To make it clear, she was hugely disappointed by her long weekend escape. The first thing she complained about was the way the crew welcome her at the airport.

She had an oversized bag, proven fact after trying to fit it in the test box of the company. She refused to check it in and forced her way to the plane. After long, very long, minutes trying to make her come back to her senses, resulting in a plane delay, the crew eventually let go. I was quite surprised and immediately thought that she met a compassionate and obliging team! I would have never dared do what she tempted. But she concludes that, if she had all these troubles, it was because her skin was dark (she is Indian).

We have to learn from our experiences to improve

What I want to demonstrate here is what everything is a matter of point of view. You are flying for sometimes long hours together with hundreds of passengers, in a very secluded space. The crew has to be sure that everything is going to go smoothly. You also have to take into consideration all the attacks that occurred more or less recently. There’s also the case of the price-war between companies that result in many people flying today, whereas they could not have been able to afford it only two decades ago. But there is another price to pay for that: less comfort, more delays, a crew that is sometimes not so willing to demonstrate patience when problems arise.

So, back to my little anecdote: everything is a matter of point of view. My “too big carry-on” passenger paid what she considered being good money for her trip, she wanted to travel as expected in exchange. The crew wanted safety and comfort for the plane. Everyone had a different view of the problem. But be aware that your satisfaction can never overpass the security of other passengers. Eventually, her escape started poorly. Some wrong choices and misplaced expectations made it even worse after that. All she has left now is a lengthy negative review on a renown travel website that will hurt no one except her memories.

Was it worth it? I think not. I love and tell about Slow Travelling and conflicts are not part of it!

Plane: Flying over the difficulties

My best advice here will be: “Get prepared!”. You must have all your flying papers, your identity papers, if you fly abroad, be sure to have everything required by both countries. You must be very precise about your luggage. We never check in luggage. But even for these, there are some strict regulations! Regarding carry-ons, even worse: it’s different for each company and changes regularly. So check and recheck everything before leaving to the airport.

I don’t want to send you to one of these boards summing up all the different requirement for carry-on for the leading companies. You can only trust the website of the company you are travelling with at the time of your trip for that kind of advice! If you buy a suitcase, there are one or two things to consider. If you think you are going to use it for other flights in the future, check that the size fits all the companies you could use.

Don’t think that you can use a soft backpack with the right measurements, and overpack it afterward. In case of doubt and full plane, each company has a test box at the entrance of the aircraft. Until the last minute, they can test your bag and decide to check it in. Then you will probably not be happy to see you fragile stuff going into the luggage hold. But would you lose your ticket to avoid that? You certainly wouldn’t; the airplane company couldn’t care less!

Don’t ignore the rules!

On a travel blog, I read another kind of adventure. A travel blogger decided to take photos of the entire first class cabin to write a post about his first business class trip. Of course, he was told to stop right away, regarding other passengers privacy. The air-attendant stayed polite when the man explained she shouldn’t worry because he was a professional blogger ( meaning this passenger was going to publish the photos online!) Then the pilot came to see him and asked him to leave because he violated privacy rule toward other passengers. He had to deal with that and had no way back. But I believe, after reading this blog post, that he never really understood how wrong he was. Instead of reinsuring the air hostess, he convinced her that he really was threatening other passengers privacy.

Remember that a plane a very closed space with lots of total strangers travelling with you. Their freedom and rights are as valuable there than they are in the street of any city. You can’t take pictures of anyone face, take a video, and expect to be welcome. The crew is also in charge of this kind of problems. If they consider you will share on behalf of the company’s responsibility some photos that can trigger legal difficulties, they certainly won’t agree with that.

Transportation problems: how to get through it

Pilots and their crew are in charge of all the passengers’ security; you have no other choice than respect them. You can’t just ignore a rule and get on a plane under the nose of the crew thinking they won’t say a thing. In the end, there are rules. If you don’t want to follow them, you won’t travel! You’ll be the one who stays, have to pay for extra hotel nights, another single way ticket, lose time, and go into endless complaints to try to gain some compensation after that.

So, my advice would be:

  • Keep Calm! By all means!
  • Never argue against an airport or an airline employee
  • Be prepared for delays and extra time at the airport (book, snacks, water, extra layer)
  • Always have some extra time at the end of each flight
  • Have extra money in your account just in case!
  • Always consider others passengers privacy and security and be respectful, these are grave matters nowadays!
  • Always travel light: it’s so much easier to adapt when tonnes of suitcases are not adding to it!

Don’t let any unforeseen event spoil your trip. Your money and your time are valuable, and your memories are even more important!

If you want to have more tips on how to fill your carry-on efficiently:

10 ideas for a successful light packing this autumn

How to pack light for 4+ days in the summer


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