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Entries during 2016-11

Canceled & Stranded

Q. My flight was canceled and I was told that the airline could not get me on another flight to my destination until tomorrow, because all the flights were full. How do I get home?

A. Flights are more full these days due to the capacity cuts over the past few years. It can be a major hassle to rebook a flight after it has been canceled, especially at peak travel times when most flights are at or near full capacity. Acting fast is essential and being proactive to change routing in advance of a major storm can help you get to your destination as planned.

One suggestion is to call the airline while waiting in line at the airport to try and get ahead of the line for rebooking. Also, if you are flying out of a hub or there are flights going out to other destinations from where you are, look into other routings. We have a handy list of links to airlines' route maps here. Sometimes you may be able to piece together an odd routing that the airlines' system won't come up with by simply inputing A to B. Have a look at the departure board at the airport and see what flights are actually leaving and see if you can work out a connection. It may mean an extra stop, but it may get you home the quickest.

Also, look into nearby alternate airports and taking ground transportation. A little creativity during flight cancellations can sometimes help you get you where you want to be sooner.

Tipping Flight Crew

Q. Is it proper to tip flight attendants? I saw a fellow passenger slip some money (I couldn't see how much) to a flight attendant on a recent flight. This was at the beginning of the flight. I did notice that this passenger's glass was never empty. Do airlines prohibit this? Isn't it a sort of "bribe?"

A. When you think about it, all travel industry employees (hotels, cruise lines, rental car shuttle drivers) receive tips at one point or another, so I see no reason why flight attendants shouldn't receive them as well. However, some flight attendants tell me that they refuse tips while others accept them. I wouldn't call them "bribes" any more than tipping your bell hop or hotel maid is a bribe. I would draw the line, however, at handing a $100 bill to a check in agent at the airport in the hope of getting an upgrade. I've heard of passengers doing this and it seems unethical to me. I've also heard of people tipping TSA agents in order to jump the line, and that does seem like a bribe. I've also heard that this sort of thing happens all the time in foreign countries with less strict standards of conduct, but it doesn't make it right.

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