Thursday, November 15, 2012
How to Travel with a Bicycle
6) Sign up for the TSA pre-check program. This allows your ticket to be coded differently and helps TSA "process" you. Can help sometimes.
7) Easiest thing to remember - be pleasant. The "front of the house" or "lobby" employees from the airline and TSA get absolutely abused all day long. They didn't set the policies that suck. They have to follow them and help move you on your way. They DO have enough power to help or hinder you.
I can speak to many times when I told a hurried employee that I had 2 hrs to my flight and I can wait while they fix something. Every time they waived the fee for my bike and once I was upgraded to first class. Doesn't work every time, but being overly nice has almost always made the experience easier. Consider using a skycap and tipping him/her. That has gotten me out of bike fees too. Just ask the skycap if they can pass you straight through to TSA - the right tip amount usually works $5-10 depending on the airport.
Write the airline if you have a great or poor customer experience. Most times you just get a standard form letter thanking you for your feedback (or nothing at all). Several times, I've received club passes or first class upgrade stickers when I mentioned the airline employee by name and said that they "made" our trip. Positive feedback almost always gets some kinda swag.
Being pleasant (even when you are stressed flying with your bike) is the key every time.