How Holiday Travelers Can Avoid Flight Delays and Cancellations

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The tourism industry breathed a collective sigh of relief this year, as 2022 saw the traveling public return to the skies in earnest. But, one of the less fortunate side effects of that rebound has been the pressure that heavy travel demand has placed on the aviation sector, which was underprepared to handle the relatively sudden influx of flyers.

The result has been a year riddled with flight disruptions and overall unpredictability of air travel operations, not to mention soaring fare prices. Cancellations, delays and extended airport wait times have become all but routine.

Conditions have improved from earlier in the year, when 7 percent of all flights were being canceled daily, a proportion that dropped down to 3 percent in August, according to Expedia’s 2023 Air Travel Hacks Report. While that percentage is trending in the right direction, it’s still higher than the 2019 average of 1.9 percent.

While consumers continue to plan those trips that were denied them during the pandemic, everyone who buys an airline ticket these days does so dreading the heightened degree of hassle they may face on the day of departure.

The busy summer travel period may be over, but flight frustrations are likely to re-intensify heading into the holiday travel season, reported. According to Hopper’s recent ‘2022 Holiday Travel Outlook’ report, over half of Americans plan to travel for Thanksgiving, Christmas or both this year, with 70 percent intending to visit friends and family. Air travel during the upcoming holiday period is expected to be both busy and expensive.

While there’s no surefire way to avoid having your flight delayed or canceled during your holiday travels, CNET compiled some easy-to-follow advice that should help you have the best shot at avoiding additional headaches at the airport and arriving at your destination on time.

Luggage under the Christmas tree. (photo via Goldenberg / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

1. Fly earlier in the day

According to flight data platform OAG, choosing a departure time earlier than 3:00 p.m. reduces the chance of cancellation. Flights that depart after this hour, on average, have a 50 percent higher chance of getting cut from the schedule.

2. Opt for longer layovers

While an hour might once have been an ample amount of time to make it to your connecting flight, you’re likely to need a longer layover period these days. Should the first leg of your trip get delayed or your plane has to wait a prolonged period for passengers to deplane, that buffer time can quickly dwindle. Not only will you have less time to hustle across the airport to your gate, but most planes seal their doors about 15 minutes prior to departure time and you could easily miss your connection.

3. Download your airline’s app

We know, it’s one more thing on your phone, but go ahead and download your carrier’s mobile app and opt-in to receive real-time notifications to make sure you’re aware of flight updates and gate assignments. At least 24 hours ahead of your departure time, periodically check on your flight’s status and, if it gets cut or delayed, you can look to transfer to an alternate flight. Airline apps can also help you navigate airports and send you updated gate assignments for your connecting flight during layovers.

4. Keep an eye on weather conditions

A few days before your flight, start keeping an eye on weather conditions at both your place of arrival and departure to best anticipate whether your flight might get canceled or delayed. Airlines will sometimes issue change-fee waivers ahead of an oncoming inhospitable weather event, so that you can reschedule in advance. If you see a storm is forecast to strike, you may want to leave a few days earlier or later than originally planned, or search out a different route.

Traveler, passenger, anxious, stressed, frustrated, airport, station
An anxious and stressed traveler awaiting her connection. (Photo via David-Prado / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

5. Note the airports with the highest volume of flight disruptions

According to a FlightAware analysis for CNN, the following U.S. airports reported the highest percentage of flight delays between May 27 and September 5, 2022.

  1. Chicago Midway International Airport: 37.7 percent
  2. Baltimore/Washington International Airport: 32.5 percent
  3. Orlando International Airport: 32.2 percent
  4. John F. Kennedy International Airport: 31 percent
  5. Harry Reid International Airport (Las Vegas): 31 percent
  6. Newark Liberty International Airport: 30.4 percent
  7. Dallas Love Field Airport: 29.1 percent
  8. Dallas Fort Worth International Airport: 28.3 percent
  9. Denver International Airport: 27.5 percent
  10. Charlotte Douglas International Airport: 27.2 percent

Meanwhile, these U.S. airports recorded the highest percentage of cancellations.

1. Newark Liberty International Airport (New Jersey): 6.7 percent
2. LaGuardia Airport (New York): 6.7 percent
3. Reagan National Airport (Washington, DC): 4.8 percent
4. Raleigh-Durham International Airport: 3.7 percent
5. Cleveland Hopkins International Airport: 3.5 percent
6. Pittsburgh International Airport: 3.4 percent
7. Boston Logan International Airport: 3 percent
8. John Glenn Columbus International Airport: 3 percent
9. Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport: 2.9 percent
10. Indianapolis International Airport: 2.9 percent

For the latest travel news, updates and deals, be sure to subscribe to the daily TravelPulse newsletter here.

Source: TravelPulse

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