As Flight Cancelations Continue, Here's How to Prepare
With surging COVID cases and storms expected on each coast of the country, the chances of your flight being canceled are high.
Globally, more than 6,000 flights were canceled on Christmas Eve, Christmas, and the day after Christmas, according to CNN.
On Monday, according to Flight Aware, 3,260 flights were canceled around the world, with just over 1,400 being within, into, or out of the United States. And the cancelations and delays don't seem to be slowing down: At the time of writing, 2,741 flights were already canceled Tuesday, per FlightAware, with an estimated 928 cancelations on Wednesday.
COVID cases are currently surging across the globe. According to PBS, airline staffers calling in sick since the emergence of the new Omicron variant are leaving airlines short-staffed during the busier-than-usual holiday season.
But if flights being canceled due to Omicron wasn't enough, now travelers have to worry about weather advisories on both coasts of the country.
Although the Pacific Northwest has already been hit with an after-Christmas layer of snow, another one to three inches are suspected to hit the region this week, while the Rockies are expected to get one to three feet. In the Northeast, folks are likely to get some snow that may pile up to six inches high in some locations, according to CNN. Some of these locations may even experience winds gusting as high as 45 mph, causing snow drifts as high as five feet. CNN further reports that other areas on the East Coast and farther south should expect a mix of rain and snow, as well as heavy rainfall.
The combination of rising COVID cases and dangerous weather conditions make more delayed and canceled flights very possible, so you should be prepared.
Here's what to do ahead of your upcoming flight:
Check your flight status before even leaving for the airport
Scott Keyes, the founder of Scott's Cheap Flights, told CNN that the very first thing you want to do before leaving the house is check your flight status. He also advises signing up for airlines' 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 gets delayed or canceled, immediately head to an airline agent's desk to get re-booked ASAP
According to Keyes, you'll want to head to an airline agent's desk as soon as you hear about your flight being delayed or canceled. Because agents typically help travelers on a first-come, first-serve basis, posting up at an agent's desk could mean the difference between you getting on another flight that same day and being stuck at the airport. According to The Points Guy, you don't always have to stand in line though. Another trick is to run to a self-service kiosk, using it to rebook and search for a new flight yourself. You could also call your airline from the comfort of an airport restaurant.
If getting a new, same-day flight fails, ask for vouchers
If it looks like you won't be able to fly out until the next day, according to Keyes you can ask the airline to put you up 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 might also want to consider canceling your trip entirely or postponing it. Due to the new Omicron COVID-19 surge, Keyes says airlines are offering free changes to flights. And if you book a cheaper flight later in the week you'll even be able to get a travel credit with most airlines.
If all else fails, go for the refund
According to the US Department of Transportation (DOT), a flight cancelation or "significant delay" entitles you to a refund. This policy stands true 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. "DOT determines whether you are entitled to a refund following a significant delay on a case-by-case basis," the website states.