As more travelers head to the airport, airlines struggle to keep up with demand, leading to thousands of delayed or canceled flights leading to a chaotic summer travel season.
According to the flight-tracking website FlightAware, more than 5,800 flights departing or arriving in the US were delayed and another 600 canceled on Wednesday.
The latest disruptions add to a rough summer for travelers, with more than 2,800 US flights canceled over Memorial Day weekend and more than 3,000 scratched over Father’s Day and the Juneteenth long weekend.
What should you do if your flight is cancelled? Brian Kelly, founder of The Points Guy shares some tips on how to rebook quickly and secure your refund.
“If you need to get to where you’re going right away, pull out your phone and buy yourself a new ticket,” advises Kelly (video above). “The airline may not be able to rebook you. If you wait in line for hours to rebook, chances are any remaining seats will be snapped up.
For refunds, Kelly cautioned that it’s best to go through a credit card company because US carriers “don’t owe you anything” for canceled flights.
The American Express Platinum and Chase Sapphire credit cards offer “so-called trip delay and cancellation coverage,” Kelly added. “So if you’re stuck, … go to your credit card company to get reimbursed for hotels and rental cars and all those extra expenses.”
Trip protection has become a popular add-on for travelers during hectic travel periods, but where you get that coverage is important, Kelly said.
“If you book through Expedia and others, they go around you and nobody takes responsibility,” he warned. “Always deny their coverage to protect your trip.”
Kelly recommends travel coverage from independent online marketplace InsureMyTrip.com instead. “You can look at all the different policies and you’re going to get the best coverage at the cheapest price,” he said.
‘Be prepared for obstacles’
The mass cancellations and delays are unlikely to resolve anytime soon, and airlines are blaming pilot shortages and understaffed air traffic control as the two culprits.
“Going into this busy holiday travel weekend, airlines still don’t have their footing,” Kelly said. “People have to be prepared for disruptions and that’s pretty much every airline.”
Despite efforts to improve reliability amid rising demand, airlines have proactively trimmed schedules this summer.
Delta cut about 100 flights a day in July, while United cut about 50 flights a day from Newark Liberty International Airport starting July 1. Alaska Airlines and JetBlue also announced flight cuts.
Meanwhile, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) projects a busy summer season, with passenger volumes “occasionally matching and sometimes exceeding 2019’s first.”
Last Sunday, the TSA screened more than 2.46 million people, the most air travelers in the US since the pandemic began. This coming weekend, 3.55 million people are expected to fly ahead of the Fourth of July holiday.
“As long as that demand is high and the planes are full, we’re going to continue to see these disruptions,” Kelly said. “Demand continues to grow, and I won’t stop unless a major recession hits the US”
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