Avoid Day of Travel Travel Screw Ups to Save $ on Conference Travel

I’m on my back from an academic conference in and had a rather interesting time flying on 2 different airlines.  Actually, in the way up here and was hell and the return flight was great.  This got me thinking on a couple of things that I did that actually made the flights cheaper, and easier and might save you money in the future.

So here’s what happened.  I showed up at the airport on Tuesday morning at 6 AM, clutching a cup of coffee, before my 7:20am flight.  I was unable to check in using the automatic kiosk and the flight representative that came to help me explain that my flight had been changed to depart at 5:55 AM.  In other words, my flight was changed without any sort of notification and I would not make my connecting flight later in the day.Now I’m a veteran traveler and I know this is not a big deal, and I have to explain this to the traveler was flying with.  Once he was calm and we were able to work with the flight attendant to rectify the situation.  Here are the things that made a difference:
Number 1: although the tickets were purchased using Orbitz.com, probably the reason why things were screwed up, I was a frequent flyer on the airline and was able to have “preferential treatment on the flight for that day”.  This treatment also continued to my travel companion.  If you’ve not already joined up on airline frequent flyer miles, perhaps using a credit card, I suggest you do it for this sort of benefit.
Number 2: missing a flight in the afternoon meant that we were going to have a layover.  No one likes a layover.  However, be free drinks vouchers we received simply by asking, made the travel much easier.  Before we got on the flights we had a couple of drinks, and some food, and looked at it as a chance to catch up before the conference.  The lesson we learned, after perks the worst that can happen is that they say no.
Number 3: when we try to check in for the return flight, we were unable and expected a similar problem.  We call the airline and informed us that because the tickets were purchased elsewhere it would not be able to help, so we decided to go directly to the airport.  We arrived early, work with an agent, and in no time had our tickets for our flight home.  Lesson to remember here, face-to-face conversations work better than over the telephone.