Traveling this year has been nothing short of eventful. Airlines reduced staff to slow their cash burn during the pandemic and have struggled to find employees to keep up with demand ever since. Throughout a single itinerary, these are the things that happened on my trip and how you can be prepared if it happens to you.
AA Flight 8566 from JFK to MAD.
The flight was operated by American Airlines One World partner Iberia. The flight departed at JFK's terminal 7 at 5:00 pm. I arrived at the airport at 3:00 pm roughly (arrivals are depended on documentation needed). Having TSA precheck which speeds up the security process and I was also holding a business class ticket and currently Advantage Platinum Pro, so it didn't take long to pass security. Once inside, I headed to the Alaskan Airways lounge via Priority Pass. I tend to have my meals in the lounge as I am notorious for falling asleep on flights (sometimes before they take off) The flight went well and I slept most of the day due to adjusting my sleep clock before the trip.
Tip 1: Get a credit card that pays for a better airport experience: I get lounges in case the flights are delayed, and I have to wait a little longer at the airport. This way, I can have free drinks and food while I wait and comfortable seating areas. Also, get one that pays for TSA pre-check. However, pick Global Entry as your choice as it comes with TSA precheck which is the better deal.
Tip 2: Adjust your sleep clock: Before my trip, I start living according to the time zones of my destinations so I can be more relaxed when I land and avoid jetlag.
I landed in Madrid, Spain at 6:25 am with a connecting flight to Frankfurt, Germany at 8:40 am. A quick stop at the Plaza Mayor lounge for a coffee and some breakfast before continuing on my journey.
AA Flight 8824 from MAD to FRA
The flight was operated by Iberia and was quick and painless. I landed in Frankfurt just after 11:20 am. I cleared Border patrol in Spain, so I was free to get to my hotel. Unfortunately, my bag didn't make the connection, so I was clothesless in Germany.
Tip 3: Ensure you have a minimum of 3 hours of connection time on international flights to minimize the risk of lost luggage. I had to return to the airport a few hours later for my bag as the airline said it couldn't deliver until the next day, and I needed things out of my bag for work.
Tip 4: Always have a backup outfit in your carry-on in case your bag is lost. My carry-on got damaged on my last trip, and I refuse to purchase one. (Waiting for Away to send over my replacement as well as my influencer contract)
In Frankfurt, I stayed at the Steigenberger Frankfurter Hof. Felt good being back in Germany. I typically stay at hotels I can get points from but this was on my bucket list so I went for the experience instead.
Tip 5: Always get the points. George Clooney said it best as Ryan Bingham in the movie "Up in the Air", I do not spend a penny unless it somehow affects my mileage account. Luckily, I prepaid with the American Express Platinum so, 5X on the stay wasn't that bad.
Lufthansa LH1030 FRA to CDG
I am as loyal to airlines as the other man but I am loyal to my pocket first. That is why I have mileage accounts with all three major alliances, so I don't miss the opportunity to earn miles. Lufthansa credits my United Mileage Plus account and I have the miles to redeem in the future. (Oh yea, no complaints with Lufthansa)
ITA AZ 313 CDG to LIN
ITA took over for Alitalia in late 2021 to be exact. I remember cause they canceled my flight and left me stranded in Cairo and I had to find an alternate way home via a connection with Air France. I guess I have bad luck with them. I was rescheduled on AZ 311 some three and a half hours later. This is the one time I will advise you to stay in the terminal.
Tip 6. CDG has notoriously heavy traffic. This is the only time I will stay where I am instead of looking at a lounge, trust me it's not worth the headache.
Tip 7. Know your rights: Due to EC.No 261/2004, any flight within the European Union and leaving the European Union must be compensated according to delay time and distance. The delay resulted in a Euro 250 reimbursement. Some airlines try to give reasons not to pay this even though it's the rule. This is why I always use AirHelp to close the deal. If successful it costs me 25% of the amount and if not it costs me nothing.
IB3253 from MXP to MAD
The flight was a little over two hours. I got snacks from one of the Club S.E.A lounges in the terminal. (Always good to have a Priority pass) Good to report bags were on time this trip.
BA465 from MAD to LHR
This flight was roughly two hours and was good, for a short nap. I was skeptical as British airways have been having a lot of problems lately but the flight went well. If all else failed I would relax a bit more in the Neptuno Lounge in Terminal 4S.
AA101 from LHR to JFK
Coming home is always bittersweet but needed nonetheless. Savoring the memories created while abroad and looking forward to some new ones. Also, I can't believe Americans' flagship service still lags this much on one of their premier routes. Their food service is always a hit and miss so I stocked up on food from the Aspire Lounge in Terminal 3 at London Heathrow.
Tip 8. Global Entry: When returning home always have Global Entry, it speeds up the process of Immigration immensely. If I can just figure out how to speed up getting my bags.
Felt good being back out there and I look forward to more travel in the future. Until then I'll be planning for new destinations on the next one!
Editors Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any parties mentioned. None of the entities mentioned has reviewed, approved, or endorsed the content listed in this post.