Tips to Make Your Next Flight Less of a Headache

Airports are pretty chaotic right now, thanks to shortages and delays. These tips will help make your next flight less stressful.

Air travel in the United States is kind of unpredictable at the moment. The “friendly skies” are a little less friendly as of late, with air travel delays, canceled flights, and staffing shortages causing lots of problems for travelers.

Although I’m a huge proponent of road trips – I like to get out there and see things on the way! – there are plenty of times when that’s just not feasible. I mean, I can’t drive across the ocean. And I certainly don’t have the time to drive all the way to Costa Rica!

So, if a flight is necessary for your next trip, you’re going to need to minimize the frustrations. Air travel just isn’t the same right now. There are certain things you should be aware of before booking your next flight.

Here are some tips that will hopefully make flying less of a headache this summer!

Book Directly With the Airline Instead of a Third Party

booking flights concept on laptop screen

Although third parties promise to save you money or give you other special perks, this might not be the best time to use them. When you book through an online travel agency, it adds an extra layer of policies and another party you have to deal with.

When things go as planned, this obviously isn’t an issue. But when things don’t go as planned, you now have an extra party to go through to resolve the issue.

On the flip side, if you book directly with the airline, your issue will be handled by the airline themselves. This means better and faster customer service, plus being able to rebook quicker if necessary.

Give Yourself a Cushion

If possible, give yourself a little bit of a cushion. You want to plan on arriving a few days before that wedding or other event that you’re traveling to. By giving yourself two or three extra days, you leave room for delayed or canceled flights – or really any other travel mishaps that may happen. And if we’re being honest, it’s kind of likely that those mishaps will happen.

It’s also a good idea to fly on a weekday if that is doable. Flying between Friday and Monday is difficult, to say the least. This is when airports are the most chaotic, and you’re more likely to experience problems. Flying on a weekday isn’t a guarantee that everything goes smoothly, but it gives you a much better chance!

Book the First Flight of the Day

woman on a plane wearing travel pillow and sleep mask

When booking your flight, choose the first departing flight of the day. It might not be fun to get up at 4 am, but this is your best shot! This will give you a better chance of avoiding any mishaps and actually leaving on time. These flights are less likely to suffer delays as things get backed up throughout the day.

It’s also more likely that adverse weather disrupts operations later in the day, rather than first thing. The effects of bad weather accumulate as the day goes on. Think of it like a domino effect.

Book a Direct Flight

With so many flights experiencing delays or getting flat-out canceled, you’re better off booking a direct flight. Although routes with connections are usually cheaper, they increase the odds that something will go wrong – and screw up your vacay. Each additional layover is another chance to run into massive lines, issues with luggage, canceled flights, and any other mishaps that could happen.

If it’s not feasible to book a direct flight, avoid short layovers. Give yourself at least a few hours! This will give you a buffer as you navigate the airport chaos.

Stay Connected

After you book a flight, download the airline’s mobile app, enable notifications, and if possible, sign up for texts from the airline as well. You can also join the airline’s loyalty program. This will help you stay on top of any alerts related to your flight. The faster you receive information, the faster you can fix any problems that arise.

If possible, upgrade to a premium seat, too. The better your seat, the more priority you will be given when it comes to rebooking. If your flight is canceled or overbooked, they award new seats based on your status on your first flight. First class and business class are given priority over the back of the plane.

Avoid Checking Luggage

Small blue and large black suitcase at airport
Adobe Stock

At this point, we’re just assuming the worst, right? That’s why you should avoid checking luggage if possible. Just bring a carry-on, and ship other items to your destination if you need them.

By only having a carry-on, you are much more agile when it comes to changing plans. If your flight is canceled after you’ve already checked your bag, you now have to track down your bag and wait for it before you can get yourself on a different flight. You will be able to handle the situation much quicker if you don’t have to worry about your other bag.

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