Holiday season

How to avoid flight delays for the 2021 holiday season

Globally, more than 6,000 flights have been canceled on Christmas Eve, Christmas Eve and Boxing Day, according to CNN.

As of Monday, according to Flight Aware, 3,260 flights were canceled worldwide, with just over 1,400 within, to or from the United States. And cancellations and delays don’t appear to be slowing down: At the time of writing, 2,741 flights have already been canceled on Tuesday, according to FlightAware, with around 928 cancellations on Wednesday.

The cases of COVID are currently increasing across the world. Airline staff members becoming ill since the emergence of the new Omicron variant are leaving airlines short-staffed during the busier-than-usual holiday season, PBS says.

But if flights canceled because of Omicron weren’t enough, travelers now have to worry about weather advisories on both coasts of the country.

Although the Pacific Northwest has already been hit with a blanket of snow after Christmas, another three inches is believed to hit the region this week, while the Rockies are expected to reach one to three feet. In the northeast, people are likely to have snow that can accumulate up to six inches high in some places, according to CNN. Some of these places can even experience wind gusts of up to 45 mph, causing snow drifts. as high as five feet. CNN further reports that other areas on the east coast and further south should expect a mixture of rain and snow, along with heavy precipitation.

The combination of increasing COVID cases and dangerous weather conditions makes more delayed and canceled flights very possible, so you need to be prepared.

Here’s what you need to do before your next flight:

Check the status of your flight before you even leave for the airport

Scott Keyes, the founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights, told CNN that the very first thing you want to do before you leave home is to check the status of your flight. He also advises signing up for airline text alerts and downloading your carrier’s app. You can also always Google your airline and flight number to retrieve the latest flight status, or check FlightAware.

If you’re already at the airport when your flight is delayed or canceled, go immediately to an airline agent’s office to get a new reservation as soon as possible.

According to Keyes, you’ll want to go to an airline agent’s office as soon as you hear your flight is delayed or canceled. Since agents typically assist travelers on a first-come, first-served basis, showing up at an agent’s desk can be the difference between catching another flight the same day and being stranded at the airport. According to The Points Guy, you don’t always have to queue. Another tip is to go to a self-service kiosk, using it to rebook and find a new flight yourself. You can also call your airline from the comfort of an airport restaurant.

If getting a new flight the same day fails, request vouchers

If it looks like you won’t be able to get on the plane until the next day, according to Keyes, you can ask the airline to accommodate you in a hotel or give you vouchers. “They might do it; they might not. It’s not required by law,” he told CNN, however.

You may also consider canceling your trip entirely or postponing it. Due to the new wave of Omicron COVID-19, Keyes said airlines are offering free changes to flights. And if you book a cheaper flight later in the week, you can even get travel credit from most airlines.

If all else fails, go for the refund

According to the US Department of Transportation (DOT), a flight cancellation or “long delay” entitles you to a refund. This policy is valid regardless of the reason the airline cancels or delays your flight. However, according to the DOT website, a “significant delay” is somewhat open to interpretation and a refund depends on various factors. “The DOT determines on a case-by-case basis whether you are entitled to a refund after a significant delay,” the website says.

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