The winter season is upon us, and with it comes the excitement of the holidays and spending time with family. Unfortunately, there’s also a good chance that wintry weather conditions can alter travel plans. Flying is a popular mode of transportation, especially for longer treks, but before you can buckle up and ensure your seat’s in the upright and locked position, here are five easy travel tech tips to make sure your flight plan is airtight.
- As soon as you book your flight, sign up for flight status notifications. Most major airlines have free smartphone apps that can track upcoming flights and most even provide the option to receive email and text updates. Additionally, the FlightStats app offers flight status updates on all airlines, making it an invaluable resource.
- As your travel date approaches, start checking weather sites. It’s important to be aware of potential upcoming hazards, both in your area and in the area surrounding your destination. Weather Underground and the FAA Flight Delay Information monitor weather conditions around specific airports, offering up-to-date weather maps, coupled with real-time flight delay information. Weather.com has a business traveler section that shows weather conditions around airports as well, and it can also give you forecasts for your entire trip.
- Before you head to the airport, have your flight number, confirmation code and your airline’s toll-free customer service number on hand. Not only are these important for retrieving your boarding pass, they can save you if you need to rebook from a weather-related cancellation. Check out the Evernote app for an easy and accessible way to keep track of your information.
- If you’re among the 97 percent of air passengers carrying a smartphone, check out MiFlight. This app allows travelers to crowd source wait times at different airports, giving you up-to-date information and helping you plan to arrive on time.
- Most importantly, know how to communicate with your airline. The most reliable avenues of communication vary by carrier – but the tried-and-true triple threat of the desk, the phone, and social media will serve you well, no matter where you are. In many cases, Twitter and Facebook trump direct human contact. When flyers are grounded at the airport they want immediate answers. Most airlines have a team devoted to social media monitoring in an effort to help with customer relations, providing the best pipeline to real-time information. In some instances, airlines will follow you and do their best to communicate via direct message to avoid a public spectacle.
Weather-related travel hiccups can dash even the heartiest of holiday spirits. Use technology to stay a step ahead of the game. Safe travels, and enjoy the holiday season!
Data usage applies for app download and use.
John O’Malley is a public relations manager for Verizon Wireless. Follow him on Twitter at @VZWjohno.