More than 1,000 flights to and from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport have been delayed or canceled since Sunday, and flying has been a headache for travelers who now have to make new plans.
Airlines say the nationwide travel problems are due to a shortage of employees caused by the increase in coronavirus cases. Travelers suffered 399 delays at DFW Airport on Sunday, 360 on Monday and 158 delays on Tuesday according to FlightAware. On top of that, 70 DFW flights on Sunday, 91 on Monday and 49 on Tuesday were canceled. And trip changes could continue throughout the week, with seven Wednesday and Thursday flights already canceled.
“Everyone is doing their best and the airline workers are really trying to get you where you want to go,” said Andrea Ballard, Travel Advisor at Sanders Travel Center.
Even with the omicron variant causing a likely surge in COVID-19 in Texas, vacation travel has rebounded to near pre-pandemic levels. Nearly 9 million Texans will have traveled at least 50 miles between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2, according to AAA Texas, 32% more Texans than in 2020.
Obstacles like cancellations or delays can be confusing, but this guide will help you overcome them so you can get home safely. Here’s what to do if your flight is changed, according to travel consultant Ballard.
It’s always good to be up to date
Before heading to the airport, constantly monitor your flight for any changes. This way you will know in advance if there has been a cancellation or delay and you can plan accordingly. Usually, it will take longer for the airline to notify you of the change.
“Know that everyone is trying to do their job well and to protect you,” Ballard said.
Make sure you keep a change of clothes in your hand baggage, as you will not collect your checked baggage if your flight is delayed or canceled until you arrive at your destination.
If your flight has been delayed, Ballard recommends that you always show up at the boarding gate when booking your flight, as it can go on time at the last minute. Or, they might be able to put you on another flight sooner.
“I saw people miss their flights because they thought they were delayed, that they were taking their time. But their goal is to get you to your destination. And so if they can make up for all that time, they will, ”she said.
What to do if you are already at the airport
If you’ve been to the airport before, try speaking to an agent at any gate. You don’t need to talk to the agent at your door, just go to the one with the fewest people at their desk so you don’t have to wait.
If you are delayed overnight, an airline agent should give you a voucher covering meals and your overnight hotel stay. Usually they will have a shuttle to the hotel which can also take you back to the airport.
If there is only one long line, phone the airline while you are in line.
You can also catch an earlier flight at a nearby airport, such as Dallas Love Field.
The faster you can respond, the better
Every time an airline cancels a flight, there are 100 or more people on that flight trying to get their flight rebooked. Ballard therefore recommends taking action as soon as your flight is canceled. After noticing the cancellation, immediately call the airline or your travel agent to find accommodation faster.
You may have to wait a while due to high call volume and low employee availability. Ballard says the best time to call the airline is late at night or early in the morning, as the line will be less busy then.
And try calling before sending an email, Ballard recommends, because they’ll be much more responsive on the phone. While on hold, also try texting, emailing, or chatting with a customer service representative.
If you have a friend or family member on a frequent flyer program, have them call the airline for you. Their loyalty points could put you at the front of the queue.
Know what you would like to be booked on
Before talking to the airline, research flight times and try to determine which flight you want to be booked on. Or, if you’re on hold for a long time, search the airline’s website for a flight so you know it before you get in touch with a customer service representative.
If you change your flight reservation with the same airline, the airline must cover any price difference.
If your fight is called off and you can’t take something else on that same airline, Ballard says you’re entitled to a refund. Due to limited availability, you may need to book a more expensive last minute flight with another airline.
When making a new booking and connecting, allow yourself some time in between so that you don’t miss your flight if your last one is delayed. Meet at the airport two hours before a domestic flight and four hours before an international flight.
This story was originally published 27 December 2021 18:07.