According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 23,221 flights by 12 major U.S. based airline carriers were canceled altogether in 2016, and that’s on top of the 215,131 arrival delays reported last year. Some 82 percent of flights arrived on time.
While the bulk of delays and cancellations are due to inclement weather and entirely out of the control of airlines, some flights are delayed or canceled for reasons airlines can control.
Occasionally, a flight isn’t canceled but oversold, in which case you may be booted off while everyone else departs. Other times, staffing issues and mechanical breakdowns are at fault. Again, these issues are rarely optimal for airlines, and more of the Murphy’s Law of travel.
What should you do if your flight is completely canceled or delayed so long it becomes a hardship? Here are some tips that can help you avoid this issue and deal with the outcome.
Get in line, and call the airline while you wait
If you’re already at the gate when you learn your flight is canceled, you’ll quickly find yourself in the midst of an angry crowd. The best thing you can do is get in line, and do it quickly. Then, while you wait, search for alternative flights on your smartphone so you’re ready with alternatives once you reach the desk.
If you’re way back in a slow-moving line, don’t be afraid to call the airline while you wait. If you’re able to connect over the phone before you get to the gate agent, you may get an answer and be offered an alternative right away.
Ask to be rebooked on the next available flight, pronto
The ideal situation is one where you’re rebooked on the next available…
There’s travel chaos this bank holiday weekend, after British Airways canceled hundreds of flights as a result of a major IT systems outage.
The issue, which the airline has described as a “major IT system failure” and a “global system outage, has caused “severe disruption” to British Airways’ worldwide operations. Passengers are unable to check in, and parts of the British Airways website is down.
Hundreds of passengers are also sat on the tarmac, as outbound aircraft are unable to vacate gates.
The airline has suspended all flights from Heathrow and Gatwick until 18:00 BST today.
It’s not immediately clear what is the cause of the outage. Several passengers have reported hearing that the issue is due to a “cyber attack.”
Canada has just released a new airline passenger bill of rights that makes it illegal for passengers to be forcibly removed from overbooked domestic or international flights.
The legislation, passed by the transportation minister Marc Garneau, will require airlines to offer compensation for the passenger’s ticket – if a passenger does not accept the compensation, the airline will simply be forced to raise their offering price.
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If you’re ready for a change of scenery but have limited travel funds, an airline credit card might be a dream come true. With an airline card, you’ll earn valuable frequent flyer miles you can use to book free airfare and seat upgrades. Some of the best co-branded airline credit cards even offer additional perks that make travel cheaper, such as free checked bags, companion ticket deals, and discounted award bookings.
But with so many airline credit cards out there, choosing one can seem overwhelming. Before you can truly benefit from an airline credit card, you need to learn about these cards and weed out the options that won’t work for you.
To get a handle on your choices, you should consider several factors including your airline preferences, your travel style, and your spending habits. Follow these steps, and you’ll have the ideal airline credit card in no time.
Step 1: Figure out which airlines you can fly
First things first. To pick the right airline credit card, you need to know which frequent flyer miles you can actually use.
To find out which airlines you should consider — and which you should mark off your list — check your local airport’s website. You might discover that nearly every major airline flies into your area, or that only a few do. Finding out which airlines fly out of your home airport is the best way to narrow down your options fast.
Step 2: Ask yourself where you want to go
Now that you know which airlines are at your disposal, you can ask yourself where you want to go. Maybe you have family that you fly to visit frequently, or you have a list of dream vacations that you want to tackle. Knowing where you want to fly in the near- to medium-term is key to narrowing down which airline’s frequent flyer program you’d like to concentrate on.
Larger and more established carriers such as American Airlines and United Airlines fly almost everywhere. Smaller regional…
Overbooked flight? Somebody’s going to get bumped — a common, but inconvenient aspect of travel by airplane. Indeed, it’s within an airline’s power to deny ticket-holding passengers a seat on a flight. Of course, passengers have some control in these situations, as well. The next time you’re forced to give up your seat on an oversold domestic flight, know that these are your rights, from the federal Department of Transportation.
1. Remember that airlines must seek volunteers first
Before an airline can bump anyone involuntarily, they need to first find passengers who are willing to give up their seats. If you have some flexibility in your schedule and can arrive at your next destination a bit later than originally planned, you can give up your ticket in exchange for a later departure time. If you decide to volunteer to give up your seat, find out whether the airline is able to issue you a new ticket or if you’ll be flying standby. If it’s the latter, find out whether the airline can offer you any compensation toward food or lodging while you wait. It could be a while, and, as we all know, airport cuisine isn’t cheap.
2. Ask about compensation
If you are bumped involuntarily, ask an airline representative what, if any, compensation you are entitled to. You are entitled to compensation if, for example, the airline fails to arrange substitute transportation to get you to your final destination within one hour of…
Discount airlines have broadened the base of those who can afford to fly. These no-frills carriers slash prices by limiting benefits and offering an a la carte airline experience. But sometimes, flying a discount airline isn’t nearly as cheap as you think.
If you’ve ever priced airfare, you’ve probably wondered why discount carriers offer lower prices and how they do it. How can Allegiant Air afford to let you fly from Cincinnati to Fort Lauderdale for $122 or less? And how can an international airline like WOW Air stay afloat when a round-trip flight from Boston to Reykjavik, Iceland costs less than $320? (See also: Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards)
The answer is “unbundling,” an industry practice that’s been growing for the past decade. Back in the day, when you bought an airline ticket, you automatically got an advance seat assignment, checked bags, carry-ons, and even meals (it’s true — ask your grandparents).
Then came deregulation and rising fuel costs, and multiple airlines went bankrupt. Those that survived sought to boost profits by unbundling all those included services, meaning you had to start paying for many things that were once baked into the airfare. Airlines pitched this as a consumer benefit — why pay for checked bags if you’re just bringing a carry-on? And it is a good deal for some passengers, but it’s also a way for the airlines to make money — more than they made before unbundling.
Hidden fees on discount airlines
Discount airlines have taken the unbundling concept to the extreme, making them the most beloved airlines by some, and the most despised by others.
Not only will you be charged for checking a suitcase, you’ll also pay extra to carry on a bag too big to fit under your seat (in fact, Frontier Airline charges more for a carry-on than a checked bag). Usually, the earlier you pay for bags, the cheaper it will be. Wait until you get to the gate and you could pay as much as $100 for a carry-on.
Then there are fees for choosing a seat, which goes up the more legroom you ask for. And you’ll have to cough up extra for printing your boarding pass at the airport, for booking using a credit card, and even for water onboard (Spirit Airlines is notorious for charging $3 for water unless you need it to take medicine).
Sometimes these fees can cost as much as the fare itself. Take Allegiant Air, for example. Round-trip airfare from Cincinnati to Fort Lauderdale rang in at around $122 for random dates in May, which is downright cheap. But if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find the base fare includes almost nothing.
Want an assigned seat near a window or an aisle? There’s…
When it comes to strategizing how to earn free airfare with travel rewards credit cards, there are two main schools of thought. On one hand, you can sign up for your favorite airline’s frequent flyer program and get their co-branded credit card to earn miles through regular spending and flying. Or, you can get a credit card that lets you earn flexible travel rewards good for any airline instead.
So, which should you choose? Airline miles or travel credit?
Airline frequent flyer programs
While each airline loyalty program works differently, they all follow a similar format. When you pay for a flight, you earn frequent flyer miles based on the cost of your paid airfare and/or the many miles you fly. You can get more points by using the airline’s credit card to pay for it.
The upside of earning airline miles is obvious; through regular flying, credit card spending, or a combination of the two, you can earn miles and redeem them for flights around the globe. With the American AAdvvantage program, a round-trip domestic flight costs as little as 25,000 miles while a round-trip flight to Europe can run as little as 45,000 miles. Since the average domestic flight costs around $400 and the average flight to Europe can cost $1,000 or more, you can score an exceptionally good value for your miles with this program (points are worth 1.6 cents and 2 cents respectively). (See also: Which Airline Loyalty Program Has the Best Value for Their Miles?)
Keep in mind that, on top of your miles, you’ll need to pay government-mandated taxes and fees. These fees are usually $5.60 per leg for domestic flights, but can range in the hundreds of dollars for flights abroad. The fees also differ with airlines. Do your research before you settle on the airline program to pursue miles with. Other factors include where they fly and their partner airlines that you’d be able to get use miles for. Also, blackout dates and award seat availability are factors, too.
How to spot a frequent flyer program
These are the things you should look for when considering a frequent flyer program to join.
No blackout dates or seat limitations
The best programs allow you to redeem your miles for any seat on any flight as long as they haven’t been sold. Some programs designate a specific number of award seats per flight (or on select flights), or they impose blackout dates when you can’t use miles at all. Unless you are a solo traveler with very flexible plans on when and even where to go, you’ll end up very frustrated at your options and may see a lot of your points go unused due to the lack of availability. (See also: 10 Ways to Get Free — or Almost Free — Flights)
Multiple ways to earn miles
Being able to earn miles through other ways than flying with that airline makes racking up miles easier and faster, which means free flights faster. Airline credit cards will often give points for all spending, and maybe even bonus points for additional categories.