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9 Tips to Navigate this Year’s Flights & Travel Mess

If you’ve been on social media or reading the news, you’ve certainly been reading the horror stories of canceled flights and lost luggage that seems to be happening nonstop these days. This doesn’t mean that traveling isn’t worth it, but it does mean that you might want to plan things more carefully and leave more room for error than in the past.

We’ve compiled some of the tips that we’ve been seeing into one handy list for you. This list can serve as a pre-flight checklist to give you the best chances of success on your summer travels.

  1. Use your airline’s app. These apps let you do almost everything without waiting to speak to an agent. Everything from getting your boarding pass, tracking your bags and changing flights. Sometimes these apps even know about flight cancellations before the crew does.
  2. Head out early to the airport. For important events, allow plenty of cushion with your flight, possibly even an entire day. The lack of airport stress will be worth the extra money on the hotel room, food, etc.
  3. Do your best to fly early in the day. If your flight gets canceled, you have all day to get on to another flight. This is not unique to this year, but keep in mind summer is thunderstorm season. A single storm can shut down a whole airport. Storms usually build as the day gets later. Book early flights as morning flights also get canceled less frequently. Additionally, airlines are short-staffed and overworked. Not just pilots and flight attendants, but also ground crews. Without ground crews there is no one to park the planes, drive jetways, get your bags on/off planes, or scan boarding passes. This causes many delays that snowball throughout the day.
  4. Avoid short layovers. In the old days, short layovers were doable. These days, best to give yourself at least a 3-hour cushion in case of a delay.
  5. Sign up for Global Entry. Once you’re approved for this service that lets you skip the customs line upon reentering the US, you’ll also automatically receive access to TSA Pre which allows you to zip through security lines at most US airports. While the cost for it is $100, you can get Global Entry for free with 3 of our top 6 recommended credit cards here.
  6. Being kind to the staff goes a long way. Crews are under high stress and have less patience than ever for poor treatment. If you need assistance, be nice and approach airline staff with a smile.
  7. Buy Travel Insurance. For expensive trips, it is worth it to buy travel insurance. At least if you miss your flight, you won’t be out of money and a vacation. Some top credit cards cover most trip interruptions like our top recommended cards listed here.
  8. Book flights directly with the airline. When flights are full and someone needs to be bumped, if no one volunteers, the first people to go are those who booked with third-party websites like Hotwire, Expedia, and Travelocity.
  9. Track your baggage in case it’s lost or under a pile of hundreds of others. Use an easy service like Blue Ribbon Bags that communicates with you while locating and expediting the return of your luggage for as little as $5 per bag. Additionally, people have had excellent success tracking lost luggage using Apple Air Tags. Get one here for under $30.

Travel stress is high these days, but a little bit of extra planning can go a long way in making your experience as seamless as possible. You’ve got this.

Credit: Bernardo Seuc in Sunny Isles Beach Insider FB group.
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