1. Check and double check the names on your plane tickets days or weeks before pre-boarding time, not 18 hours pre-boarding time, or at least check the names during the hours your travel agency is open.
And by double check I mean get your husband or best friend to check, because if you have a different last name than your husband and kids, you may not notice that the travel agent listed your family's last name as your own instead of the maiden name you kept when you married.
And the Transportation Security Administration? You might find after two hours on hold with your airlines 1-800-TRAV-HELL line that the TSA does not like it one bit when the printed name doesn't match your government issued ID; i.e., they just might ground you.
2. Or not, if you make a special trip to the airport the night before you are scheduled to depart, and find a kindly airline agent who was about to leave for the night but returned to the desk just in time to see your frantic face begging for assistance. She may not even need to see the thousand pieces of identification you gathered in a desperate attempt to prove you are who you say you are.
3. The next day, when you are flying into DFW airport at 11:30 am and read on your ticket that your connecting flight departure time is 2:35 pm,, you may not want to assume that you have a two hour layover; i.e., when the GATE column on your ticket reads, "GATE 1," but the travel magazine map in the seat pocket shows that DFW has no GATE 1, it might be a good idea to double check with the airline agent before you get yourselves all comfortable in the adjacent lounge area.
By getting all comfortable in the adjacent lounge area I mean lying on the floor, head on backpack, feet propped on a lounge chair, losing yourself in the book you've been waiting months to read, ignoring blaring calls on the loudspeaker which say something like,
Bradley, party of five, please report to the check in desk immediately
Because? The ticket might have been printed incorrectly, and, in fact, the depature time is actually 12:35 pm, not 2:35 pm
And? You might just find that you have missed your connecting flight.
And then? You might just find that all remaining flights into your destination city are booked for the rest of the day, ma'am, where were you when we called your name on the loudspeaker over and over?!
4. When the flight attendants use your family's last name to announce the gate numbers for connecting flights, i.e., "Bradley 15" equals American Airlines speak for Gate B-15, and you point this fact out to the annoyed airline agent and tell her this is the reason you ignored her repeated loudspeaker calls, she might look at you like you have grown an extra head and tell you that two-headed passengers require two tickets; i.e., she may not validate the fact that using a common last name as a Gate identifier might make it their fault that a party of five missed their connecting flight.
5. When you miss your connecting flight and learn that all of the remaining flights are full, it most definitely is a good idea to put on your most deferring and pathetic face when you ask that they please put your family of five on the stand-by list. If you do this, they might just bump you ahead of 15 stand-by passengers and get you on the next flight out.