No flight, no meeting

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on October 11, 2007. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: airfare, car rental, cruise, disaster, Erica Silverstein, hotel, insurance, vacation package.

Janice A.'s story also shows how schedule changes can wreck havoc on travel plans.

"Today, I set the alarm for 6 a.m. to drive two hours to Rochester airport where I arrived with an hour-and-a-half to spare prior to take-off. Using up a half hour going through the comprehensive security check (worse than my overseas flights of only a week ago), I went directly to the departure gate where the sign said my flight to Boston scheduled for 11 a.m. was on time. I had bought the ticket for a 1 p.m. board meeting, occurring eight miles from the Boston Airport. A limo was waiting at the airport to take me to this once-a year-meeting.

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"At 10:45, it's time to begin boarding. Now an announcement says, 'Flight to Boston cancelled.' The airline admitted it had given the Boston plane to a Philadelphia flight whose plane was awaiting mechanics to repair it. No apologies. Just cancelled and no substitutions. The flight was sold out, as was the later afternoon Boston flight (after my meeting would adjourn), and no, there was no way I could fly to Boston today, even after my meeting. No other airline flies from Rochester. No competition equals no service. Another two hours drive back to where I started."

What to do

Ouch! All that driving back and forth for nothing. There's not much Janice could have done differently in this situation. She got to the airport with plenty of time, and though she inquired about alternatives, the lack of flights from Rochester to Boston prevented her from finding a seat on a Boston flight.

It may seem like overkill to fly in a day early and stay overnight for a meeting that will only last a couple of hours, but that's the best strategy in these days of increased airline delays and cancelations. If your event is unmissable, schedule at least a day of buffer time, so if your original flight has problems, you still have time to find another way to get to your destination. Or, if the meeting is not unreasonably far, consider driving.

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