Warmer weather and PTO aren’t the only things that Summer 2022 is bringing. Across airports around the world, a new phenomenon is occurring, called Travel Armageddon. Don’t worry it’s not another strain of COVID or the end of the world — but it is something that can impact your travel plans this summer.
Let’s take a look at why this event is occurring and how travelers can prepare for an inevitable chain of flight delays and cancellations.
What is Travel Armageddon and why is it happening?
The word Armageddon, when it’s not used to reference the movie, refers to the last mythological battle between good and evil. When it comes to Travel Armageddon, you may find yourself in a battle with your airlines. There have been massive amounts of flight cancellations — over 10,000 flights in a week according to USA Today.
So why is this happening? There are many reasons, one being that more people are traveling now. According to a survey done by the Vacationer, approximately 80 percent of Americans will be traveling this summer. This is approximately 20.8 million travelers.
There are also typical reasons such as weather conditions and lack of support. Caroline, author of the Veggie Wayfarer blog emailed BGN via HARO and shared her recent travel experiences. “I had 6 flights to take, one of them was canceled, and the other five were delayed. [Some of the flights] were late because of a storm, not enough personnel, and scirocco winds,” she explains.
According to Frank Harrison, Regional Security Director of North America at World Travel Protection, the pandemic not only pushed some veteran pilots into early retirement but also slowed down training and hiring. This led to fewer pilots, reduced routes, and canceled flights. And it seems that a shortage of pilots isn’t the only thing affecting flight cancellations.
Katelynn Sortino, a frequent flyer emailed BGN and shared her experience during a recent trip. “I flew back from Brussels’ Charleroi Airport and the flight was extremely delayed. Hundreds of us had to sit in small waiting areas for over three hours. The reason they gave was a staffing issue and that they didn’t have enough flight attendants,” Sortino shares. This has been the worse she has experienced in over 20+ years of flying.
How to prepare for flight delays and cancellations
Knowing why this is happening may ease your frustration but not dissolve it. The good news is that passengers and travelers still wield a lot of power. Daniel Green, co-founder of travel insurance startup Faye, emailed BGN and offered his advice.
1. Don’t schedule events and activities during the first few days of your trip
Part of the fun of a vacation is trying out new activities and adventures. But, it’s wise to not schedule your most important activities in the first few days. This will give you some wiggle room if you end up arriving late. Also, if you are traveling for a major event, plan to travel to your destination a day or two earlier.
2. Pack your essentials on your carry-on.
There is a big chance you might be separated from your luggage or you may be spending a night in the airport or a hotel. In your carry-on be sure to pack a change of clothes, toothbrush, toothpaste, medications, or anything else you deem important.
3. Book a morning flight
The earlier you can get out, the better. “I’m talking three to four in the morning,” Emel, a world traveler who emailed BGN with her travel advice. “Even if your flight gets canceled, you have a better chance of getting [rebooked on the next flight]. The cascading of rebooking usually gets worse as the day goes on.“
Emel also recommends signing up for an airline’s frequent flyer program. “American Airlines AA Advantage program is free to register and gets you priority over those who don’t have it,” she suggests.
4. Consider other travel options
Depending on where you’re going, you might want to drive or take the train to your destination. Yes, gas prices are high but by doing a little bit of math, you can probably average a decent price. Also if you get stuck in a layover state and your destination is only a few hours away, rent a car and drive. It may be faster than waiting for the next available flight.
5. Buy travel insurance
Travel insurance can cover mishaps from canceled flights to luggage being misplaced. Green shares that with certain policies, “you can receive $200 for common trip inconveniences and delays, such as lost or delayed baggage of 6 hours or more, flight delays of 6 hours or more, or canceled flights.”
Even more travel advice
Traveling this summer is an all-hands-on-deck type of situation. Here is some additional advice to get you through it.
Download the airline app on your phone. This way you can get in-the-moment alerts and can easily rebook if needed
Be familiar with your airline’s cancellation and rebooking policies: No one likes to read the fine print, but doing so can help you get reimbursements and travel vouchers.
Use a credit card to book your flights: Geobreezetravel’s Instagram, which includes money-saving tips for traveling, suggests purchasing flights on credit cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which has trip protection. This protection can help you to get reimbursement for your expenses if you need it.
How to prepare for the worst
There may come a time when you’ve done all you could but you still find yourself stuck in some random destination. If that happens here’s what you can do.
What if your flight is canceled while you’re at the airport?
Move fast: Larry Snider, VP of Operations of Casago Vacations Rentals, suggests rushing to the airline agent’s desk as soon as you notice your flight is canceled. If you end up in a long line, try calling your carrier. The third option is a self-serve kiosk. Snider says, “Scan your boarding pass or enter your record locator to see your updated trip details. You can also switch your flight and print new boarding passes from there.”
File a claim: Mattias Magnusson, founder of CruiseTrail suggests that you keep all your receipts from out-of-pocket expenses. “You’ll need these items to make a claim. There are even service providers that will assist you with your claim,” Magnusson recommends.
Be patient and understanding: No one can wave a magic wand and fix all these problems. When you see travel agents make last-minute decisions, remember that you don’t know everything that is happening in their world. At the end of the day, everyone working at the airport is doing their jobs to the best of their abilities. Having a positive or at least neutral attitude can make life a little easier for everyone.
Be flexible: It’s always best to ask yourself, “What I can do now, and what are my options?” Dwelling on the problem won’t help you get to your destination. Exhaust all resources, and try talking to other people in similar situations. The more you’re willing to adjust and compromise, the more options you will have.
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Kiersten is a freelance writer and coach. As a writer, she has written for Travel Noire, Passion Passport, BAUCE mag, and various travel and lifestyle blogs. As a writer, her goal is to write content that inspires others to take action. As a coach, her goal is to empower women to be their most authentic selves. In her free time, you can find her dancing to any song any where.