Always call customer service when you think you’ll miss your flight (and what to do in case smoke fills your plane)

a red fire extinguisher with a white backgroundFun times. I had just boarded my flight and gotten comfortable in my aisle seat, perusing Facebook while keeping an eye out for anyone who needed to get into my row. First one, then another gentleman sat down next to me, and boarding was going surprisingly fast.

Until a horrible smell filled the air, followed by thick smoke. I quickly put my shirt over my nose to try to avoid the thick air. A flight attendant vaulted over seats to get to the front of the plane. Within a minute they were yelling at us to exit the plane and leave our bags. You don’t have to tell me twice! My fellow passengers and I gratefully gulped fresh air as we got to the jetbridge.

Now, the problem ended up being some mechanical issue and nothing life-threatening. The 12:30pm flight finally took off that night at 8pm–over 7 hours delay for a 45-minute flight.

Luckily, I was not on that flight, nor did I have to wait in the 50-person line to speak to a gate agent to get my flight changed. As soon as I got off the plane I called Aadvantage Customer Service to see if I could be rebooked. At that point we were only delayed about 45 minutes, but the agent realized if it had gone any longer (which seemed likely) I would have missed my connection. She was able to re-route me, cutting out a segment, and I actually ended up getting in earlier than originally scheduled. I got one of the last few seats on the next flight out, and noticed several people from my flight waited to speak to the gate agent about flying standby as I boarded. Had I waited even a few minutes I would have had to deal with serious delays.

In addition, I recommend to always keep your phone on your person, either in a pocket or in your hand, or at least close at hand. Since I was holding it already I was still able to get off of the plane quickly but be able to call customer service to be rebooked. Another thing I may consider in the future is keeping my wallet in a small bag that can be easily grabbed if I need to evacuate. I was able to grab my purse this time, but were we in a true emergency or using emergency exits that wouldn’t have worked. However something small and cross-body could be worn without interfering with emergency instructions.

So the moral of the story–no matter what the reason, if you think you’ll miss your flight make sure you call customer service immediately to see if you need to rebook. Even if you wait in line in person at the same time, call first! They may be able to help you faster.

Readers, have you had luck getting re-booked when you call customer service?


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  1. Totally agree and have done the same thing.
    Did the airline eventually remove your carry on items so you could make your rebooked flight? What if you check luggage? What happens then?

  2. In a real emergency, they actually don’t want you grabbing *anything* not even a purse!

  3. @Anne great question! Once it had been determined safe they let us back on the plane a few rows at a time to get our belongings. They also took off all of the checked bags and rerouted as necessary, although I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some issues there. As if we need another reason to always carry-on!

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