Pachter's Pointers:
Business Etiquette Tips & Career Suggestions


8 Travel-Smart Tips for the Holidays

A couple had some problems with the ticketing for a trip, and both were yelling and being rude to the ticket agent. The agent kept her cool and took care of their problems. After the couple left, the ticket agent next to her said, “Boy, they were really being nasty to you.” The agent replied, “That’s okay. They’re going to London--their luggage is going to Bulgaria!”

There are lots of reasons to exhibit good manners when traveling, not the least of which is that you don’t want your luggage going to Bulgaria!

I know that keeping your cool during the holidays can be a challenge, especially since passengers are paying more and still enduring long lines, cancellations, delays and lost luggage. With our recent atypical weather patterns -- including a snow storm in October on the East Coast -- the unusual is now to be expected.

Polite behavior cannot stop the snow, but it can make a bad situation better. Here are my 8 tips to help you be “travel smart.”

1. Be prepared for delays. Take food and water with you. (You have to buy your water after you go through airport security.) Have your necessities in your carry-on. Make sure your cell phone and all electronic devices are fully charged. Always bring something to read, listen to or watch. If you’re prepared for the worst, if and when it happens, you’ll be less stressed and better able to handle the situation.

2. No cursing, name calling or rude behavior. Do you really think that the person you just called all sorts of names will want to help you? One ticket agent deliberately scheduled a foul-mouthed passenger for a four-hour wait when an earlier flight was available. Customer service people tell me that although they are required to help rude people, they will do as little as possible. If you are polite, they are more likely to go out of their way for you.

3. Don’t make threats. In the post-911 world, threats are taken seriously. Don’t joke around or try to intimidate people.

4. Acknowledge the difficulty. When talking to the customer service person who can potentially help you, acknowledging his or her challenges can go a long way in helping you connect. Simply say: “It looks like it has been a really tough day,” or “It has been a difficult time, hasn’t it?”

5. Politely ask for what you want. If you ask for what you want and it’s a reasonable request, you are more apt to get it. Saying “Any chance for a dinner coupon?” may very well produce one.

6. Befriend other passengers. It makes for a more pleasant trip when things get difficult. You will have a “we’re in this together” mentality. As a bonus, people may share what they know. During one recent delay, a man that I had spoken to earlier found out that the airline had opened a new line upstairs. Before he went upstairs, he came and told me.

7. Be alert but don’t be a bully. Pay attention to your surroundings. Additional customer service personnel may appear and new lines may open up. You’ll need to be ready to move quickly…but it’s not okay to push or shove.

8. Don’t announce your travel plans on your social media sites. There are numerous examples of people’s homes being burglarized because they let their “friends” know they were away. A New York Times headline summed it up best: Burglars Said to Have Picked Houses Based on Facebook Updates.

Of course, as my husband keeps reminding me, there are no travel problems if you stay home!

Additional tips on the holidays and business can be found in my book When The Little Things Count…And They Always Count.

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