How to avoid the worst of this summer’s travel hell

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While 2022 travel looked promising, with borders reopened and more options for traveling internationally, you may want to make this another summer of staycations. A whole bunch of factors (ahem, supply and demand) cause chaos at airports and rental counters across the country, and cost travelers a lot of time and money.

For example, over the Memorial Day weekend, the airlines canceled 3% of their scheduled flights—More than the same weekend in 2019, 2020 and 2021 combined. In the meantime, it’s no better to drive: Rental car prices are up 70% compared to 2019, mostly due to lack of car.

Here is what else experts predict for the travel hell summer:

  • Staff shortages at airlines and airports, exacerbated by ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks. This includes not only pilots and crew, but also ground workers and customer service representatives.
  • Frequent severe weather, such as thunderstorms, will cause significant delays in the middle of increased traffic compared to pre-pandemic levels.
  • Higher prices across the boardfrom airline tickets, to gas, for rental cars, to hotel. In some cases, driving can be more expensive than flying, which puts extra pressure on flights.

So what does all this mean? Well, staffing problems have caused airlines to cut timetables in advance, putting pressure on remaining flights that are already almost booked to capacity.

But think of the snowball effect: IIf there are not enough ground staff at one airport to unload bags, it will run aground an aircraft, crew and current and future passengers. The flight crew may also be required to clock out during long delays, which eventually leads to cancellations. And with full flights across the board, it can take a long time to find an open seat to rebook. In addition, you can expect long queues and large crowds at check-in, security, immigration and baggage claim.

How to avoid the worst summer travel problems

Honestly, some chaos at the top of the summer can be inevitable. Nothing you do can compensate for the lack of staff or bad weather. If you really have to travel, you should hope for the best, plan for the worst, and be flexible along the way.

An alternative to making travel – by plane, specifically – a little less painful, is to minimize the number of touch points that can create delays or amplify the effect of cancellations. For example:

  • Book flights directly or directly to avoid narrow stops and the possibility of further delays or cancellations. Manage your expectations if you have to fly over weekends and holidays.
  • Sign up for the TSA PreCheck (and / or Global Entry, if you are flying abroad) to access shorter routes and expedited airport security and immigration screening. If you travel to selected airports (JFK, MCO, EWR, LAX, SEA, PHX and YYC) you can also reserve a time slot for security check free through CLEAR, but you will be routed through standard security fields.
  • Check in online, download your digital boarding pass and use one continue whenever possible to avoid delays and long queues to check your luggage.
  • Just give yourself more time. Arrived at the airport earlier.

It is clear that lightness can have a higher price, but it can be worth it if it helps you avoid lost connections, travel disruptions and to wait forever on hold with customer service.

Speaking of which: now is the time to take advantage of the credit card travel benefits. Many companies offer travel support, such as rebooking, for cardholders, and these services may be faster than trying to contact the airline directly for assistance. You may also be eligible for reimbursement for expenses incurred due to delays, cancellations and lost luggage. Find and save the travel assistance phone number for security.

Few a handle on your rights as a passengerincluding when you are eligible for compensation if you are suspendedlation or delay. Unfortunately you are not guaranteed anything for most delays, but the airlines have to pay if they hit you or cancel your flight and you decide not to rebook.

Finally a reminder: TIt’s a stressful time for everyone, including your fellow travelers and airline employees. While it can feel annoying to get angry when things go wrong, it probably will not change the facts of the situationand it will probably make things worse those around you. You will also look like a jerk.