Airplane Etiquette

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No airline ever created a blizzard, hurricane, thunderstorm, or tornado. No airline ever deliberately lost someone's luggage, especially yours.

Airlines do, however, overbook. They do it to protect themselves from some travelers, certainly not you, who make more than one reservation for a trip and then fail to cancel the ones they don't use. These merry travelers are called, among other things, no-shows.

Sometimes people with reservations, particularly those who arrive late, get bumped. The airline generally tries to make up for this situation by upgrading your ticket, getting you onto the next possible flight, and giving you vouchers for meals and a hotel room if necessary.

When delays or overbookings occur, remember that getting angry will not get you a seat. In fact, the person who explains the problem quietly and politely could have a better shot at getting that last seat—if one becomes open—than the person doing all the yelling and threatening.


Luggage does get lost. Most often, it is retrieved. Airlines lose luggage with ID tags as easily as they lose untagged luggage, but they return the bags with the tags sooner.

As soon as you are certain that your luggage is missing, report the problem to the airline office, which is usually situated near the luggage carousels. Your itemized list

now becomes invaluable. It helps you identify your property. It also helps provide validity for any claim you might have for loss. Airlines carry very limited loss liability, so if you must carry anything of unusual worth in your luggage, let your ticket agent know when you check your luggage so that it can be noted.

Here, too, is where forethought in packing pays off. Always pack medicines, toiletries, pajamas, cash, jewelry, and a change of clothes (if possible) in your carry-on bags. This stash will get you through the night and to your meeting in the morning.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Etiquette © 2004 by Mary Mitchell. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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