Category: Travel Tips

Dealing with Airline “Bumping” and Flight Cancellations

Dealing with Airline “Bumping” and Flight Cancellations

(Koka Sexton Flickr Photo)

Unless you’ve been living on the dark side of the Moon recently, you have heard about the United Airlines passenger who was dragged off a Chicago-to-Louisville flight after he refused to give up his seat to a member of United’s affiliate, Republic Airlines, who needed to reach Louisville to be available to work on a flight out of that city the next day.

United announced that it is taking steps to reduce overbooking, and JetBlue and Southwest are planning to eventually eliminate the practice altogether.

But while the odds of you being “involuntarily bumped” off an over-booked flight are quite low, the chances of you ending up “grounded” because of a flight delay or cancellation are high enough that you should know what to do to prevent that from happening or if you find yourself stuck at your departure airport.

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Self-Tagging Your Airline Checked Baggage

Self-Tagging Your Airline Checked Baggage

SuitcasesWhile reviewing plans for a trip to Seattle later this year, I discovered that airline passengers can now do something only airline staff at airport check-in counters have been been permitted to do in the past: Print out and attach baggage tags to checked luggage.

I’m surprised that this development has been so long in coming. After all, for several years passengers have been able to check-in for flights and print boarding passes using computers rather than waiting to do so after arriving at the airport. Now they’ll be able to print their baggage tags at the same time. The idea, of course, is to speed up the airport check-in process.

For my upcoming trip, I’ll be flying on Alaska Airlines which offers its “Self-Tag Express” option at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and which hopefully will have it in-place at San Francisco International by early August when my trip takes place. The following video from the airline shows how it works.

Alaska will be sending me free baggage tag holders to attach to my suitcases. The only question is whether the baggage tag holders provided by Alaska will stay securely fastened to my luggage as it whizzes its way through the airport baggage delivery system on its way to my departing plane. Alaska says they should last for 10 flights and new ones can be picked up at the airport or sent to me via mail.

You can still have an Alaska Airline agent print and attach the bag tags to your luggage at the airport. And the “Self-Tag Express” option isn’t available to those who check-in for a flight using a mobile device, or at all airports served by the airline. And the print-at-home option during online check-in will only be available for those traveling on nonstop or “direct” (meaning the plane stops at least once on the way to your final destination, but you don’t change planes) flights.

Other airlines that offer some form of self-tagging of checked luggage include Air Canada, American, Southwest, and United, all of which allow you to do so only at the airport, but don’t allow you to print bag tags at home.

Before leaving on your trip , find out if your airline lets you print out and attach bag tags to your luggage either at home, or at your departure airport.

“Passing” at U.S. National Parks

“Passing” at U.S. National Parks

My first visit to s U.S. National Park was over 50 years ago, maybe even as many as 60.

Since then, I’ve been to nearly every one in the Western U.S., and met the woman I’d marry (we’re still together) in Yosemite in 1968. (We’ll run another story about Yosemite tomorrow.)

Way back then, I’d guess it costs $5 to spend time in one of those major parks.

Today I read that the entrance fees for a 1 to 7-day stay in Yosemite will rise to $20-$30, depending on the season in which you visit.

You’ve got these options for paying park fees:

  • Pony up the new fees at one park, then pony up again at another park.
  • Buy an annual pass for a single park, if you plan to visit that park more than once.
  • Buy an annual pass that covers “more than 2,000 federal recreation sites,” including national parks, forests, and BLM lands.
  • Get a free pass “available to U.S. military members and dependents in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard and also, Reserve and National Guard members.”
  • Buy the $10 Lifetime pass for U.S. citizens or permanent residents age 62 or over (which includes me).

So don’t pass on visiting national parks or other federally managed recreation areas this year.

Just take a pass with you when you go.

(Click here for more information on the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Series.)