Travel has come to life again with crowds descending upon airports, roadways, and other destinations around the world. Like most industries, travel and tourism faced a steep drop in consumer demand during the Covid-19 Pandemic. As vaccinations increased and travel restrictions eased, demand returned with a chaotic vengeance. Travelers set out in record numbers to make up for lost time. Unfortunately, the travel industry has yet to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels in terms of routes, service, and staff.
Travelers are facing major delays and mass cancellations across the country. The most impactful reason behind the confusion and chaos is a labor-supply shortage. With not enough staff to support security, air traffic control, and overall airline crews (especially pilots!), air travel is having an incredibly difficult time accommodating the increased traffic.
Follow the tips below to help make your life (and the airline crews’ lives) easier flying the friendly skies…
Travel Insurance/Trip Delay Protection
Whether travel insurance is an additional fee or included in your credit card benefits, be sure to double-check the coverage and application of the insurance. Insurance is for those just-in-case situations. Your planned trip may not happen exactly the way you planned, so be sure you have a way to protect yourself.
Know Your Rights
Knowing your rights requires patience and careful reading, but it’s well worth it when you’re facing major delays and cancellations. Additionally, it’s worth mentioning that even if no delay or cancellation occurs, you might find yourself in a position to receive cash compensation in cases of oversold seats.
Depending on the airline, you may be eligible to receive the following:
- Cancel and refund options through the airline’s website or app
- Rerouting, reimbursement, or rebooking
- Future travel voucher that could be worth thousands
- Hotel or meal vouchers
- Transportation reimbursement
- Cash compensation (Delta recently offered passengers $10,000 CASH)
While it’s stressful when your flight doesn’t take off as planned, you should know that there is an opportunity to help alleviate some of that stress! So, take a little time to read and familiarize yourself with the fine print. That information is handy to know when needed.
I’m a big believer in focusing on the things you can control. In air travel, one of those things is your luggage! Minimize baggage concerns by opting for carry-on only options. Be forewarned, however, that you might not be able to eliminate checked baggage completely. For example, I once carried on two bags for an American Airlines flight. One was removed and checked because other passengers filled the overhead bin space.
My advice is to embrace a minimalist approach: If you can, try to travel with one carry-on! Slipping your one travel bag beneath the seat in front of you ensures that it stays with you. Checked baggage can often create delays in receiving your baggage during times of flight delays and last-minute cancellations. Who really wants to deal with that kind of stress?
Pro Tip: Carry-on rules vary between airlines. For instance, many airlines abroad have a strict weight limit. Double-check carry-on allowances to make sure you are within the acceptable guidelines.
Forget Your Patience
Behaving like an entitled jerk will not make anyone feel better. To be honest, one of the reasons why Brian and I are limiting our air travel is that many people have lost their minds. The last time we flew, it was 5:00AM EST and a TSA agent requested a gentleman to please continue moving through the line. This man started YELLING at the agent! Yelling! Oy. Calm down, sir. It’s early in the morning and there is simply no need to respond so angrily.
Patience and kindness go a long way when it comes to all kinds of human connection, service, and even upgrades. Try it out.
Cut it Close
If you’re flying for a can’t-miss event, try to pad your trip with an extra day or two before. It’s very risky to fly on the day of an important event right now, as airlines continue to experience delays and cancellations.
At the same time, I’d highly suggest avoiding flights with tight connections if you can help it. Give yourself enough time to get where you need to be with the expectation that you will likely hit an air-related snag. The name of the game this summer is to focus on the things you can control.
Travel During Peak Times
Airlines are obviously struggling with the influx of travelers post-pandemic. It’s best to give them some breathing room as they work to accommodate larger crowds during busy holiday seasons. If you can help it, try to avoid flying during holiday weekends. Flying early in the morning or late in the evening on a Tuesday or Wednesday will usually offer the least crowded experiences.
Delays and cancellations are less likely to occur when the airlines are more adequately staffed and not as stretched thin as they would be during peak travel.
Air Travel Plans
Do you have any plans to fly this summer? Brian and I have decided to put a pause on air travel unless we find a really great deal. At this point, we find the airline industry a little too…up in the air for us. With fuel charges and inflation on the rise, we will have to weigh our travel options to figure out where we go next. All we know is that the best we can do is learn how to manage our expectations.
Have you faced any troubles with the airline industry lately? What are your do’s and don’ts for air travel this season?
Good advice for any time. Airlines, like most businesses, are in that business to provide a service and make a profit. Overbooking is a method that they’ve used increasingly to ensure that their flights are maximized. Of course that leads to frustration for those that need to travel and must tread the stand-by waters at the gate.
Your advice about leaving early is also spot on. These overbooked flights offer good deals if you volunteer to give up your seat. They are usually accommodating in getting you on the next flight to your destination. So if you don’t mind having a meal at an overpriced airport restaurant, you can turn a stressful period into a relaxing interlude.
Thank you! Yes, the travel experience is all about perspective. It can feel very frustrating to deal with overbooking issues. However, depending on the outcome and compensation, that frustration could turn into more of a good thing!