Our guide to navigating flight disruptions and getting your vacay back on track
Summer 2022 is here and travel is BACK. With record numbers of travelers taking to the skies, chances are you’ve heard about chaos at the airports, delays, cancellations and more. Here are steps you can take to minimize your risk when it comes to flight changes, as well as what you can do in the event your flight is delayed or cancelled.
Before Your Flight
Purchase Travel Insurance
Travel insurance helps protect you in the event of a canceled flight, including instances like cancellations, delays, and missed connections. In the event of a canceled flight, insurance can help cover the cost of additional hotel nights, supplements for lost luggage, as well as coverage of the cancelled flight in case you need to re-book on another airline. It’s important to familiarize yourself with your insurance policy so you are aware of what protection you have during these events. Some credit cards will provide insurance of these areas as well, so it’s important to cross-reference when comparing policies.
Book Early Flights and Schedule Long Layovers
First-out flights tend to be the most on schedule, and as the day goes on flights are at higher risk of delays and schedule changes. If something does happen to your morning flight, you will have better chances of getting re-booked on multiple flights, compared to later in the day with less flights to choose from. Further, 1-hour layovers are a thing of the past, especially when flying internationally. It’s important to book flights that have sufficient time to account fo unexpected taxing time, passing through terminals, collecting luggage and going through customs.
Consider Buffer Time in Your Schedule
Let’s face it, airline travel is tricky, especially in the ebb and flow of a pandemic. Some travelers are choosing to get to their destinations a day or two early to ensure that they’re getting there with time to spare. This may be a difficult choice if you’re on a tight schedule, but having extra time in a destination before taking off on a cruise or attending a special event will provide more flexibility in case something happens with your flight.
Purchase Flights Directly
If you’re on a flight that is going to be full, chances are the airline overbooked seats as well. Airlines offer vouchers many times for volunteers to take a later flight, however if they do start bumping guests from flights, they will begin with seats booked through 3rd parties. Certain U.S. airlines have made a promise to provide amenities to customers should there be a controllable flight cancellation or delay. Click here for an overview of what airlines have committed to provide in the event of a flight disruption.
During a Cancellation or Delay Event
Download the Airline App
Technically you should do this before your flight, however this is important to remember when dealing with a flight change. The app will have everything you need from your boarding pass, tracking bags, flight status and changing a flight. Sometimes these apps will inform you of a cancellation before the airline crew even knows. If you need to re-book yourself on a flight, doing it through the app will be your quickest option.
Get In Line and Get On the Phone
If you are unable to make the changes you want in your app, you’ll want to get inline for the airline desk. While waiting in line, call the airline immediately to get assistance. One method may be faster than the other, so it’s important to do both to expedite the process.
Inform Your Travel Advisor and On-the-Ground Contact
We always advise our clients to book directly with airlines (we are happy to do this for you as well). This is because if there is ever an issue, the airline will only want to work with you directly, not through us. We also may not be in a favorable timezone when events like this can occur, and so it’s important you have support in the location you are at. In most scenarios, we provide our clients with on-the-ground contacts that help oversee their travel and are available in the event something goes wrong. It’s important to inform both of us – our local partner can help shift any hotel or transfer arrangements, and we can ensure all parties involved are aware of the changes.
Remain Calm and #packyourpatience.
Flight cancellations or severe delays are never fun, and understandably it’s hard not to get upset when this happens. However it’s important to remember that things will work out, just probably not exactly in the way you planned. Airlines agents are there to help you, and remaining calm, polite and courteous will get you much further and will help you get the best possible outcome.
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