Without a doubt, these are unprecedented times in the travel industry. First, travel bounced back way faster than anyone ever anticipated thanks to the vaccines. Second, a couple airlines were caught off guard and didn’t properly manage their staffing while trying to fly an aggressive schedule to make up for lost revenue. Then the federal mandate was announced really ticking off some airline and TSA employees.
The last few months, we’ve seen operational disasters from Spirit, Southwest and American Airlines whereby just a little bit of bad weather snowballed into thousands of canceled and delayed flights. It took them over a week to get their operations back in order because flights these days are going out almost completely full so there’s no where to put passengers from canceled flights.
Tip: This is why you want to be sure you allow for extra time to get to the airport because if you miss your flight, you could be stuck for days.
Unfortunately, the weather isn’t looking great for next week. “AccuWeather meteorologists expect that potent piece of energy to dive down over American airspace as it moves to the east and then develops into a winter storm over the Midwest this weekend. Farther east, a stretch of the Interstate 95 corridor, including cities from Washington, D.C., to New York City and Boston, is likely to be spared the worst of the upcoming stormy pattern. However, rainfall may cause localized travel slowdowns on Monday and lingering wind could disrupt air travel and cause hazards for motorists in the days leading up to Thanksgiving.”
This doesn’t bode well for travelers because as we’ve seen in the past, just one small weather disturbance can throw airline operations into a tizzy that lasts for days. I’ve never recommended this tip before and have never heard anyone mention it. It’s kind of a controversial but if you really need to be somewhere and don’t want to get stuck, here’s the nuclear travel hack you might need to use.
Buy a back-up ticket for a few hours later or more on another airline. Just make sure the ticket is either refundable or the amount can credited towards a future flight within a year.
If your route requires a connection, then pick a hub in a different part of the country. For example, if you’re scheduled to fly between Los Angeles and Hartford, Connecticut on American Airlines via Charlotte then purchase the backup on Delta Air Lines via Detroit or Minneapolis or get one on United Airlines via Chicago or Houston. This way, you don’t have to scramble to get on another flight if your original airline has operation issues or if there’s bad weather in a certain part of the country.
If your original flight does go out as scheduled, then be sure to cancel your back-up so you can get the credit.
I know this won’t be a popular travel hack with the airlines or even with some consumers since it will mess up prediction loads and drive up the cost of tickets so only do it if you really can’t be inconvenienced.
Here’s a clip of me talking about this on last night’s CBS Los Angeles newscast:
— Jeff Vaughn (@JeffVaughn) November 19, 2021
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