It has been a challenging month full of delays and cancellations for several airlines, JetBlue in particular, which has frustrated travelers at Logan International Airport.
JetBlue announces details about new Boston to London flights
JetBlue, Logan’s largest carrier, has struggled with delays and cancellations at Logan all week, and by late Friday morning, was responsible for 52 of the airport’s 101 delays and 13 of the airport’s 19 cancellations, according to flight tracking website FlightAware.
The airline apologized to customers earlier this week, noting that staffing shortages are creating a challenge, so the airline is adjusting flight schedules and reducing its amount of summer flights.
“As a whole, travel has come back really rapidly and some airlines are better prepared for it than others,” said Kristin Chambers, founder and lead travel advisor at D.A. Luxury Travel and TRAVELLUSTRE in Boston.
Chambers and Mary Ann Born, owner of Born to Travel in Hingham, are veteran advisors with 20 years of experience each in the business.
Worried your flight will be delayed or cancelled? Travel experts offered the following seven tips for booking airfare right now.
Get travel insurance
When asked if travelers should buy travel insurance, Chambers said: “One hundred percent.”
Born agreed, saying: “With Covid, it has become even more critical.”
Travelers can often add insurance when buying their plane tickets, Chambers said. Or travelers can shop around, especially if they want insurance that will cover accommodations and other aspects of a trip, she said.
“Just read the fine print,” Chambers said. “See what it covers. It’s all different. A lot of times, your flight needs to be delayed for a certain amount of time in order for coverage to kick in, for example.”
Chambers works with four insurance companies and meets with them on a weekly basis to keep abreast of changes in policies.
Buy refundable tickets
Both experts said it’s well worth buying a refundable ticket right now.
“I have been telling my clients you need to buy everything you can buy as refundable as possible, even if it costs you a little bit more money right now,” Born said.
If your airline can’t rebook you in time to make that special occasion in another city, you can rebook on another airline knowing you’ll be refunded for the flight that didn’t work out, Chambers said.
It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with other flights so you can pivot to a plan B right away, she said.
“Know what your options are,” she said. “Be proactive. When something gets canceled, the masses go and rebook and, within seconds, everything is sold out. So know what your options are right away. Don’t wait until the flight is canceled.”
Avoid the busiest travel days
Chambers said it’s best to avoid typically busy travel days.
“If you can, avoid the high, high, high travel days, if you are flexible by a few days on each end,” Chambers said. “Maybe try not to travel on that Saturday starting April break. Maybe go a couple of days before or a couple of days after.”
If your airline has waived change fees, take advantage of that and change your flight ahead of time to a less busy travel day, Born said.
“Many of the tickets people are in possession of now are free change tickets because of Covid,” Born said. “If they’re nervous they can try to get there a day early if they can.”
Book nonstop flights
Eliminate as many stops in your travel as possible by booking nonstop flights, Chambers said. More flights create more opportunity for mishaps.
“If the nonstop is additional, pay the additional for the nonstop,” Chambers said.
Avoid short layovers
If you must book a flight with a connection, avoid short layovers, Born said.
“You should be afraid to book a flight that puts you in a tight connection,” Born said.
Make sure you have more than an hour’s time to get to your next flight after deplaning, Chambers said.
Book airfare through your cruise line
For cruise travelers, book your flight through your cruise line, Born said.
“Because if you book your air through the cruise line and there is a foul up, the cruise line guarantees they’ll get you to the cruise on time,” she said.
The cruise line’s dedicated 24-hour emergency team will arrange your transportation and take care of the costs, she said. Cruise lines such as Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, and Azamara all have these services, she said.
For those booking airfare on their own, remember that airline changes could result in missing the ship, Born said.
So if, for example, your cruise leaves on Saturday, try to book your flight for the earliest time possible on the previous day, Born said, so you have a cushion should your flight get delayed or cancelled.
“Try not to jam yourself into a corner,” she said.
It is frustrating to deal with delays and cancellations, but try to keep your emotions in check, Chambers said.
“I think everybody in the travel industry right now has gone through — us included — a brutal two years, she said. “I think people have no patience for people who are going to yell and scream.”
Airline employees are doing the best they can, she said.
“Be nice to the airline employees,” she said. “It’s been brutal. It’s been really really brutal. Kill them with kindness. Be patient. Be prepared.”
“Get out there and be brave and travel,” is Born’s message to travelers. “But understand that Covid still exists and there’s a possibility that during their trip things can happen.”
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