Canceled flight? Here’s how you can fly though airport chaos.

Canceled flights, long delays and missing bags—air travel has been messy this summer.

More flights have been canceled so far this year than in 2021, according to Simple Flying, and federal data shows US flight delays are at a decade-high, in part due to short-staffed airlines and pent-up demand for travel.

“Part of the issue with what’s happening with flight cancellations is the airlines and tour operators, I just don’t think they were ready for the comeback that has really occurred. A lot of people are traveling,” said Blake Van Liere, the owner of Pathfinders Travel in Holland.

In the meantime, stories of travel frustrations have piled up: Passengers in the UK described trying to rebook a flight as a “nightmare.” A plane with no passengers reportedly flew from London to Detroit just to deliver 1,000 lost bags. And Delta offered passengers $ 10,000 to get off an oversold flight.

It’s gotten so chaotic that Delta CEO Ed Bastian sent an apology to customers at the end of June.

“If you’ve encountered delays and cancellations recently, I apologize. We’ve spent years establishing Delta as the industry leader in reliability, and though the majority of our flights continue to operate on time, this level of disruption and uncertainty is unacceptable, ”He wrote in an email and a LinkedIn post.

If you are planning to board a plane soon, here’s some tips to navigate the mayhem:

1. Be flexible

This is Van Liere’s biggest piece of advice.

With so many flights being canceled or delayed, plan for a buffer day just in case.

“You have to be super flexible because flights are so full right now. If a flight is canceled, it can take you a day or two to get to your destination,” Van Liere said.

Rebooking a flight is easiest from the airport where travelers can speak directly with airline staff or use a kiosk instead of trying to speak with a representative on the phone. Van Liere also suggested booking flights through a travel agent who can help if any issues pop up ..

It’s also a good idea to be prepared for a delay by packing clothes, toiletries and other essentials in a carry-on bag.

“Always, always, always carry extra clothes in your carry-on—that’s a must. Toiletries, anything you might need if you don’t have your bag,” Van Liere said.

2. Keep an eye on your flight status

Keep a close watch on the status of your flight to avoid getting stuck at the airport.

This allows travelers to be prepared to rebook a canceled flight or work out alternative plans for a long delay. Experts also advise showing up to the airport early for standby flights in order to secure a seat.

By downloading an airline’s app, travelers can get up-to-date notifications about a flight status or gate changes. But they can also watch FlightAware to see how many flights have been canceled or delayed that day.

3. Buy travel insurance, and know your rights

Travel insurance covers risks like canceled flights, lost bags and medical emergencies.

For anyone booking a nonrefundable trip, it can be a good idea to also buy travel insurance in case anything goes awry. It’s worth noting, most insurance doesn’t cover coronavirus-related issues.

“The other advice that I would give is make sure that you’ve purchased travel insurance,” said Van Liere, who has owned the travel agency with her husband Larry for 47 years.

If your flight within or to the United States is canceled, you are also entitled to a full refund, according to rules from the Department of Transportation. Airlines can also offer future travel credit or vouchers for passenger who face major delays.

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