INDIANAPOLIS — If you’ve flown anywhere recently, you know it’s a gamble whether you arrive on time or at all. Plus, travelers are not always able to get their money back.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reports 2.4 million travelers came through the airport on Thursday, with more than 6 million more traveling throughout the holiday weekend.
“The chances of something happening to you, like right now as you’re traveling, is higher than not,” travel agent Victoria Fricke said. “So, we kind of have to go in thinking something’s going to go wrong on our trip.”
Fricke owns her own business as a travel agent and said she tells her clients to always purchase flight insurance.
“The reason it’s so valuable is I can almost guarantee every single time if you need insurance, the cost of your insurance policy is significantly less than the cost of whatever fiasco you’re going to have to pay for out of pocket,” Fricke explained.
Fricke said one way to save a bit of money is to purchase travel insurance through a different third-party company, not the airline’s website.
“It’s actually more expensive through the airline’s third party than it would be to book third party on your own,” Fricke said. “The coverage is the same. So there’s a link on my website to Arch insurance, which is the one I typically suggest for my clients.”
The U.S. Department of Transportation said consumers are entitled to a refund on their flight if the flight is canceled, the airline makes a significant schedule change or the delay is so long the person chooses not to wait for the flight. But Fricke said, generally speaking, there are times when you will not be refunded.
“When weather’s involved, when there’s potentially a strike, when there’s civil unrest in a country, things like that that are beyond their control, that unfortunately falls on you,” Fricke explained.
The Department of Transportation includes some notes for consumers to keep in mind before buying a ticket. You can read these at www.transportation.gov.
Fricke said her best advice to consumers is to pack enough extra clothing and medication that you are set for one or two days of an unexpected hotel stay, book the first flight of the day and always treat the staff well at the airport.
“The ticket counter and the gate agent, they are your first priority. You want to get in that line however long it is because they have the most options at their disposal to get you on another carrier, to give you a voucher for food or for a hotel stay,” Fricke said. “They have more power than a call center.”
The Department of Transportation also explains what aspects of your trip airlines do not offer reimbursement for at www.transportation.gov.