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Travel Experts Discuss The Ripple Effect Coming After Holiday Airline Cancellations
With airlines canceling thousands of flights over the holiday weekend, travel experts are warning passengers that this may be the beginning of a new trend.
“We forecasted that 109 million people would travel this holiday period, which is close to pre-pandemic numbers but not quite,” Andrew Gross, a spokesperson for AAA told Travel Noire. “But the big caveat, we told everyone, is that it depends on what Covid decides to do and then the Omicron variant hit.”
More than 6,000 flights were canceled on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and the day after, as reported by CNN. The aviation industry, already impacted by a labor shortage, found itself in an even worse predicament as staff and crew called out sick during one of the busiest times of the year.
And while the CDC recently announced new guidance for infected individuals that cuts isolation in half from the initial 10 days, travel experts urge people to pack their patience for a while because they anticipate these cancellations being the new normal even after the holiday period.
“The airlines are doing their best to get you there, but everybody is operating in a pandemic. If you’re flying from San Diego to New York City, for example, it’s [probably] not going to be a nonstop flight. You may have a couple of stops along the way,” said Gross. “After two years of living in a pandemic, you have to realize that the old ways are gone. You have to assume there are risks with doing a lot of things right now, and travel is one of them.”
How To Best Prepare During Uncertain Times
Gross says one possible way to avoid cancellations is to always book the earliest flight from your departure city.
“What we find is that the first flight in the morning is the least likely to be canceled as cancellations tend to domino throughout the rest of the day. Chances are, your plane and your crew overnighted to the airport when you leave first thing in the morning.”
He also recommends making sure you have the airline’s app downloaded on your phone to keep up with cancellations and delays before you get to the airport.
“Make sure, once downloaded, that you have those notifications on because no one wants to find out at the airport that their flight is canceled.”
The other important resource travel experts suggest having on deck during these times— travel insurance.
“A lot of times when we think about travel insurance, it puts a bad taste in our mouth,” Amina Dearmon, owner and travel advisor of the luxury travel service Perspectives Travel, shared. “With what’s going on right now, especially with COVID-19, there are so many factors at play, including you getting sick or airlines canceling your flights that can jeopardize money you spent and time that you’re not going to be able to get back.”
Both Gross and Dearmon say no matter how well-traveled you are, working with a travel advisor is better for you in the long run.
“We’re requiring our clients to consider travel insurance. There are companies, like Travel Guard and Allianz, that are great and even evacuation resources such as Covac Global and MedJet, that will help you get out of a bad situation like if you’re hospitalized in another country, and they will get you to your home airport.”
To book a trip with Dearmon and find out more information about her luxury services, follow her on Instagram.