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Here come summer flight delays: How to avoid and handle the headache

With travel returning to pre-pandemic levels, this summer is expected to see its share of flight delays.
Posted at 6:44 AM, May 31, 2023

As busy as the summer travel season is expected to be this year, delays and cancellations will be inevitable, especially when uncontrollables like summer thunderstorms roll in.

But a few simple steps could get you to your destination faster if you arrive at the airport prepared.

Riley Laipple is a frequent traveler who’s had her share of flight delays recently.

"It can be frustrating, especially when you have a connection," she told us while preparing to depart for a business trip.

Lula Elzy says delays ruined some of her trips.

"It's very frustrating, especially when you are trying to be somewhere on time," she said.

Travelers go through a TSA PreCheck screening line at an airport.

Teens can now go through TSA PreCheck with their parents

This move is part of an effort to make air travel a little smoother this summer.

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What you can do to prepare

Summer Hull with The Points Guy says you shouldn't waste any time being worried, but definitely be prepared.

So she shared a few ways to lower your risk of a delay or cancellation while booking.

She says:

- Fly nonstop, without a connection, when possible

- Take the first flight of the day, as you then avoid late afternoon weather-related delays

- If you can, fly to and from hubs, where you may have more backup options, such as a backup plane if your incoming plane is delayed in another city

- Avoid checking a bag

"That way, if things do go wrong, you can be more flexible, and your bag doesn't have to be retrieved," she said.

If you're already at the airport, Hull suggests you be proactive and monitor your inbound plane on your phone.

"A lot of airline apps will make this an option in the app or you can use a service like FlightAware," she said. "Sometimes, if you're keeping an eye on your inbound plane, you're gonna know about an issue before it's ever formally announced by the airline."

That way you can grab an alternate flight before an announcement is made to the 150 other people waiting on the delayed flight.

Hull also says:

- Opt in to all text notifications about your flight’s status

- If you're stuck in a long line, also reach out to the airline by phone while you are waiting; you may get phone help quicker

- Check your options using the airline’s app

"Just be ready to ask for what you want," she said, or you may be stuck with the airline’s recommendation, such as a two-city stop.

Laipple's advice to others: allow extra time.

"I try to make sure I get to the airport early and make sure I have enough time to deal with the stress that comes with delayed flights," she said.