Some of the major US airlines have been in quite a bit of turmoil lately.
In recent months, Spirit Airlines, Southwest Airlines and American Airlines have all experienced widespread cancellations that have affected tens of thousands of passengers.
American blames the weather and the lack of available crew members for the massive cancellations in late October. Spirit flights were affected by “adverse weather conditions … combined with staff shortages at airports and crew shifts,” the carrier said.
And in response to what it says are the same type of issues, Southwest is said to have cut capacity for December.
5 steps you can take to avoid a flight cancellation
Because these circumstances have put the airline industry in such a rush, you may be wondering how you can protect yourself against the possibility of a canceled flight.
In this article, I’ll go through the steps to avoid flight cancellations, according to financial expert Clark Howard.
Book flights that depart early in the day
Clark recommends booking flights that are scheduled early in the day, “Because when problems arise, it happens throughout the day,” he says. “Once you get past three in the afternoon, an airline is no longer able to recover what it calls ‘schedule integrity’. “
“Flights earlier in the day give you more flexibility in how you’re going to get to your destination,” says Clark.
Here’s how to save money depending on when you book a flight.
Use a credit card for flight interruption coverage
It’s also important to book your flight with a credit card that includes flight interruption coverage, also known as travel insurance.
While you can purchase travel insurance from a website such as InsureMyTrip, Clark advises you to book your ticket on a credit card that already has coverage included.
Clark says there are some credit cards that will provide you with flight interruption coverage as part of their benefits.
An example of a credit card with travel insurance is the Chase Ink Business Preferred, which includes reimbursement of up to $ 5,000 per person and $ 10,000 per trip for your prepaid, non-refundable travel expenses, including passenger fares and tours.
Some other credit cards that include flight interruption coverage are:
Here are the best credit cards for traveling.
Check your flight regularly
In the days and weeks – and even hours – before your trip, you should periodically check your flight to see if its departure time (or even date) has changed.
“You have to log in and make sure your flight is as it originally was when you booked,” says Clark. “If you don’t like what they offered you as an alternative… try switching back to a flight that works for you. ”
Keep the Airline app on your phone
Clarks considers airline apps a must-have these days.
“Have the airline app on your phone you are flying with so that if something goes wrong with your flight you don’t get in a dumb line or try to call a phone number they go to. respond next week, “he says.
“You want to use the app to try and change your reservation because that puts you on the front line and is the most efficient way for you to find an alternate route,” says Clark.
Here are the mobile applications of some major airlines:
Here are several ways to reach customer service from the best airlines.
Fly an airline with a “cushion”
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, some airlines have improved than others in keeping the “cushion” – crews and relief planes – in their operations.
Clark says it was customary for airlines to keep a cushion in case there was a traffic jam or other problem. It wasn’t always the case during the pandemic, but he points to an airline as the exception.
“Delta kept spare planes, flight attendants and pilots. This is called a “hot spare” in the industry, where you have an aircraft ready to go with a crew on standby. And so they are in the best position.
After sorting out its issues in early November, Southwest also has a cushion, Clark says.
Clark says the one remedy that airline passengers sorely lack is rule 240, which places the onus on carriers to find routes for people whose flights are canceled.
“This is something that I believe the US Congress should put back into law,” says Clark. “And what it did was if an airline canceled your flight, for whatever reason, then they had to buy you a seat on another airline to get you where you were going.”
Clark says that needs to change because the current system treats airline customers “like chopped liver.”