Ever heard of Rule 240? If you suspect an airline is delaying your flight for something other than a weather or air traffic problem, this industry rule entitles you to be booked on the next flight out on that airline or a competing airline. When you really want or need to get out of town, ask the gate agent, "Can you 240 me?" If there are no acceptable flights available, the airline is required to refund your money, even if your ticket is "nonrefundable."
CNN business travel expert Christopher J. McGinnis has packed a book full of tips like this one that even savvy meeting planners might not know about. Some other tidbits from The Unofficial Business Traveler's Pocket Guide ($10.95, McGraw-Hill, go to www.mcgraw-hill.com to order):
* Keep a toilet kit permanently packed with your usual items for use exclusively when on the road. This way you will not have to reassemble your kit each time you travel.
* Get what you like to eat on flights. Most airlines offer a variety of unpublicized special meals that often are improvements over the standard fare. American Airlines, for example, offers heart-healthy meals that are approved by the American Heart Association. Bland, child, diabetic, fruit, kosher, lacto-ovo vegetarian, low-calorie, low/no fat and cholesterol, low/no sodium, sea-food, and strict vegetarian are among the alternative options you might try. Request special meals at least 24 hours before your flight, call ahead on the day of your flight, and mention the meal again when you check in.