Monday, Aug 15, 2022

You Can Save Your Summer Flight Plans from the Chaos of Air Travel with these Pro Tips

The year travel returned to prepandemic levels is not living up to our romantic vacation plans. These dreams are now a nightmare as airlines and..


The year travel returned to prepandemic levels is not living up to our romantic vacation plans. These dreams are now a nightmare as airlines and airports struggle with the massive influx in air travelers after a pandemic drought.

Each element of air travel is facing a staffing crisis. There are shortages in pilots, flight attendants and airport and air traffic controller crew. There are also the usual summer weather problems and operational hurdles that cause massive delays at American and international airports. Many travelers report waiting hours to check in at airports, from Denver International Airport to Newark Liberty to Amsterdam Schiphol, London's Heathrow to London's Heathrow. Thousands of delays and cancellations have left them stranded.

While some people might feel the need to postpone or cancel their air travel plans to avoid all the uncertainty and anxiety--road trip anyone?-- many others will continue to drive ahead regardless.

Don't be discouraged if you must fly, or plan to continue flying, despite all the chaos. These are simple steps that travelers can take now to reduce stress and aggravation associated with air travel and ensure their success. These pro tips are from industry experts.

Before you go

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Shutterstock Photo

TSA Clear, Precheck, and/or Global Entry

These security expediting services have never been more useful than in the current chaos at America's airports. Clear is $189 per annum and TSA PreCheck costs $85 each for a five year membership. Clear costs $189 per annum. The $100 Global Entry includes TSA PreCheck and expedited customs screening on arrival in the U.S. There's also a secret way to speed the application process.

You can check to see if there is a fast-pass security line at your airport that you can reserve in advance

TSA Clear or Precheck is not available. A few U.S. airports offer travelers the opportunity to book an "fast pass" advance reservation to get to the front of security line. This service is available at all airports.

Book directly with the airline, and make sure you download the app.

The technology of carriers has been greatly improved to make it easier for passengers to use. This includes the ability to track your flights, luggage and cancel or change your flight. This is useful if you have to rebook or see all the flights offered by your carrier. Don't wait to get an alert about your flight status. Always check your flight status.

Book with a creditcard that offers trip insurance coverage or buy travel insurance

Willis Orlando, senior product operation specialist at Scott's Cheap Flights, says that before you buy travel insurance, it is a good idea to first check your credit card. Many credit cards offer trip-interruption and trip-cancellation coverage. If expenses like meals at the airport, hotel stays, and rebooked flight cancellations start to add up, a credit card that has coverage can provide at least partial refunds. You can add travel insurance to your trip if you don't have a credit card for travel that offers adequate coverage.

Use a travel advisor

Amazing advisors can plan amazing trips and itineraries. Their services are most valuable in times of crisis. Many times they have airline contacts, so they can get on the phone and negotiate with airlines. A travel advisor can be your best friend when there are flight disruptions.

Book your flight as soon as you can

William McGee (aviation expert and author of Attention All Passengers) says that the first flight of the day has never been more important. You should book your departure at 6 a.m., as delays can build up later in the day.

Book a nonstop flight instead of a connecting one

Nonstop flights are the best option, even if it means more airfare. McGee says, "Why do you have to double the chances of having a problem when you can avoid it?"

Schedule long layovers

You can fly non-stop if you don't have the time. This is especially true if you're travelling internationally and will need again to go through customs and security. It won't take more than an hour. For domestic layovers, aim for two hours and for international flights for three hours.

Fly a day or two early

Hopper, a travel booking website, advises that travelers should have days of buffer in case there is an important event, such as a wedding, celebration or departure from a cruise ship. Instead of missing the opportunity entirely, why not spend some extra time at your destination?

Reserve a backup flight

Kathleen Bangs, a former airline pilot and spokesperson of FlightAware's flight tracking app FlightAware, will often book a backup flight with another airline if it doesn’t charge a change fee or has a generous cancellation policy. Southwest Airlines allows cancellations up until 10 minutes before departure. You can use the flight credit to pay for your next trip even if you don't use the backup.

FlyAware App available for download

Orlando recommends this flight tracking app to travelers. It can alert them to any changes that may be coming up before the airline. You can use FlightAware to track your aircraft's progress if it keeps getting bumped on the departure board. You might consider other options if your flight seems stuck at the same departure city.

Keep on top of the weather

You can now become a meteorologist if you have ever wanted to. You can check the weather radar and forecasts on websites and apps like the Weather Channel, AccuWeather, and the National Weather Service. Bangs says that you should be able to see the major systems across the country. Bangs adds that even though a weather problem is not in your area, it could have a ripple effect on the system and affect your flight.

How to get to and from the airport

Photo by Shutterstock. Get there early to avoid running to the gate.

For any construction delays, please check the airport website

Bangs reminds us that summer is "construction season". There may be detours and closures to some airport roads. You should be aware of any construction happening at your departure point so that you can plan accordingly. (This includes any delays that may occur on the highways leading to the airport.

You should arrive at the airport sooner than usual

Wait times and lines at airports in the country (and overseas) are longer than ever before. It is better to be there early and allow yourself extra time after security than risking missing your flight due to long lines at check-in. It will save you time and effort, as well as the hassle of running to the gate in panic after a lengthy security line. Orlando recommends that you aim for two hours before your domestic flight and three for international flights.

Get the MyTSA App

The Transportation Security Administration-powered app provides real-time security line wait times at airports around the country.

Which strategy is best for luggage?

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Photo by Shutterstock

irline status can help

You may be interested in becoming a loyal customer of one airline if you have never done so. TSA PreCheck and Clear are great for security lines but they won't help you if your bags are being checked. Check-in times are usually shorter for elite passengers. Once you have cleared security, you can relax in the lounge and enjoy a drink, snack, and Wi-Fi before you board your flight. Credit cards may also be used to pay luggage fees or gain access to lounges.

Travel with a carry-on bag only

This is a tricky one. Carry-on can cause congestion on the plane and in overhead bins. This may force passengers to check their bags at the gate and possibly even make them part with their luggage. Bangs always carries some of her essentials in a smaller, personal bag that she keeps with her. Orlando says that he doesn’t mind having his bag checked at the gate because he knows it’s going on board. This is a good option for those who don’t want their luggage to get lost in the baggage operations vortex. The Bigger Carry-On by away is our favorite, at $295, Check out our selection of the best carry-on luggage.

You should always have at least one to two days worth of clothes and other essentials.

If you are a member of Team Checked Luggage (there is more than one), make sure you have at least one day of clothes, toiletries and other essentials in your carry on in case your checked bag gets lost.

Ship your luggage

This is the right time to consider baggage shipping services for a longer or more significant journey.

How to handle a flight cancellation or delay?

Shutterstock Photo

Know your rights

Passenger compensation is not required by airlines for flights that are delayed or cancelled due to circumstances beyond their control. The airline is not required to refund passengers who cancel or change their flight. A refund is not required under U.S. Law if the airline cancels, delays or alters a plane, or if passengers are involuntarily bumped due to oversold flights or issues originating with the airline such as operational or staffing difficulties.

As leverage, use your knowledge of fliers’ rights

Orlando says that knowing these rights gives you priority when trying to get rebooked. He suggests that you contact the airline agent by phone or text and say that you understand that under law I can request a refund and return home. But I prefer not to do this. They are very motivated to help you. Your customers don't have the same opportunities. They will often go the extra mile to help you."

You can also search for alternate flights with partner airlines or competitors, as well as the airline itself.

If you begin to see an avalanche in delays or cancellations, you should start looking for alternatives not only with the airline that you have booked, but also with partner airlines, especially international ones, and even with other carriers. Do not be afraid to ask a different airline for help. Sometimes, even rival airlines can help you transfer a ticket. Google Flights will show you all of the options.

Always ask for miles

Another reason to sign up for loyalty programs with airlines is this. Bangs notes that if an airline offers you mileage "for the inconvenience" after a flight is cancelled, they can and should at least offer you miles. I would simply say to the airline, "What can we do for this to be fair?"

Keep calm and be friendly with the agent.

It is hard to imagine how frustrated flyers are right now. A good dose of old-fashioned friendliness is a great way to help a tired gate, airline agent, or customer service representative who's not having an easy week (or day). year?). Bangs advises that if you are on the phone with an agent who doesn't seem to want to help, do not hesitate to excuse yourself and make a deal to end the call. We know this could lead to more time spent listening to lounge music on hold.

Look to your friends and family for help

"If you hired a travel agent to represent you, they can be a great advocate. Orlando says that you paid for the services of this agent. When things get difficult, it is time to use those services. You can also give your flight numbers and travel details, if you don't have one, to a friend or family member. They will keep an eye on you and send you helpful information via text. Orlando says, "It's not too late to ask for help."

You can file a complaint with DOT

You can file an online complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation if the airline is not cooperative in providing the requested refund or assistance. This can help you get a reply from the airline.

Remember to have fun and be kind to everyone who helps you get there, even if it's difficult. We are looking at you all, tired airport staff, flight attendants and air traffic control crew who work tirelessly to make our travel dreams a reality. It is and will continue to be a privilege to travel.

Barbara Peterson contributed reporting.

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