Navigating the Current Air Travel Landscape

AAA travel advisors give tips on how to prevent, prepare for and deal with unexpected travel disruptions.
air travel

We know the recent airline system outages, delays and cancellations are overwhelming and frustrating. If you need a friend to help you navigate the less-than-friendly skies as of late, we’re here for you.

So, what can travelers do to recoup losses and to protect future travel plans? As a AAA Member, you have access to travel tools and resources, starting with our expert travel advisors who not only assist with planning and booking, but are problem solvers when the unexpected occurs.

Whether you have booked with one of our advisors or on your own, we want to share some tips that may help when facing the current air travel landscape. Here’s what our team suggests.  

Sign up for alerts.

The best way to get a heads up on your flight information is to sign up for text alerts. You’ll be the first to know of delays and/or cancellations and many airlines allow for rebooking right from their app.

Also, be sure to check in with the airline 24 hours prior to the flight.

Will I have to pay a change fee if I rebook my flights?

Most major airlines, including Delta, American, Southwest, Air Canada, Alaska, Frontier and Spirit, are currently waiving change fees, giving travelers enhanced flexibility. You may need to pay the difference in fare if booking a more expensive option. But always read the fine print.

When a cancellation occurs, don’t wait in line, hop on the phone.

Call your travel advisor or the airline customer service number. This call can save you time waiting to speak to a gate or desk agent.

Can I be booked on another airline’s flight?

Yes. Airlines aren’t required to put you on another airline’s flight, but they can, and sometimes do, according to the Department of Transportation.

Is the airline required to give me a hotel room or other compensation?

No. Each airline has its own policies about providing for customers whose flights are canceled, according to the DOT. But many airlines do offer accommodations, so you should check with their staff.

Protect your investment with travel insurance.

Travel insurance provides peace of mind and 24/7 assistance when traveling. Now more than ever, protecting your trip is a wise decision. AAA can assist with travel insurance on any travel booking. Plus, with AAA you’ll receive coverage for travel and baggage delays, medical advice and assistance, as well as transportation needs. 

More tips for future travels:

  • Book nonstop and early flights. These are generally the most reliable flights if you can get them. Booking the first flight out can help you avoid being stranded, while booking later in the day could lead to delays or cancellations. Learn more about the best times to book.
  • Carry on. Don’t check bags (if you don’t have to), this allows more flexibility if you are canceled or delayed.
  • Fly out a day ahead. If you are embarking on a cruise or tour package, fly out a day early to avoid any unwanted logistical challenges.
  • Use a travel advisor. AAA travel advisors are here for you and our services are included in your membership. AAA Members get access to the best inventory, great savings and the peace of mind of having our team’s support during your travels.
  • Always save your receipts. If you have insurance, some providers have apps where you can simply upload your receipt for reimbursement.

If you have any other questions or need help planning your next trip, a AAA travel advisor will be happy to assist.

For our members affected by the Southwest flight disruptions over the past few weeks, please reach out to your travel advisor for any questions or help booking your next flight. Southwest is offering 25,000 rewards points (a value of $300) to those whose plans were disrupted between Dec. 24 and Jan. 2, to be used towards future travel, as well as potential refund options. Our trusted advisors are here to help you navigate. 

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2 Thoughts on “Navigating the Current Air Travel Landscape

  1. “When a cancellation occurs, don’t wait in line, hop on the phone.”

    Unfortunately, everyone seems to know that trick nowadays. In the recent Christmas snafu, there were wait times of several HOURS to speak with a “customer service” representative.

    I would also read the “fine print” if you want travel insurance and you’re traveling by RAIL, rather than by air. Many policies talk about delays in “scheduled flights”, but don’t offer similar benefits for delays in scheduled train departures.

    1. Even when there aren’t massive flight cancellations going on, the wait time for phone customer service is often an hour or more. I usually call *and* get in line.

      My experience with travel insurance has been that it’s a waste of money in general. I’m waiting for someone to change my mind on the topic…

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