As much as airlines pride themselves on their customer service policies and procedures, some problems cannot be avoided or are influenced by outside factors.
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How To Survive Airline Cancelations: Travel Painlessly In 2023

After Southwest Airlines’ historic 2022 holiday meltdown, where more than two-thirds of its flights were canceled over three days, many travelers wondered about their options. Some speculated that labor issues were the cause, while others pointed to the airline’s aging software. In contrast, the airline argued that foul weather was the primary reason. Learn how to survive airline cancelations so you don’t find yourself stuck in paradise.

With the spring break travel season rapidly approaching, stepping back from the finger-pointing is essential. Realize that the same situation could have happened to Spirit Airlines, Delta Airlines, or any other airline, for that matter. It even happens in the corporate jet world, though it’s less prevalent. Hopefully, your travel plans are still intact this year. But, if they are, this article can be a guide to keep your sanity intact.

Traveling on airlines can be difficult, especially for those of us who expect excellence in our daily lives and control every aspect.
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How To Survive Airline Cancelations.

Let us start with the old saying, “Nothing happens in a vacuum.” As much as airlines pride themselves on their customer service policies and procedures, some problems cannot be avoided or are influenced by outside factors.

For example, I was flying eastbound across our beautiful country recently when I sat longer than anticipated. In my aisle seat, I could see and hear the happenings in the aircraft’s entryway. I noted the first red flag when the Captain exited the cockpit two or three times in the 20 minutes I was seated. The final time, he exited the cockpit hastily with his cell phone glued to his ear. Fearing we would soon deplane for a maintenance delay, I slowly started packing the items I retrieved from my backpack.

Almost as soon as he deplaned, the Captain returned to the aircraft and picked up the intercom handset. With an expression of relief, the Captain informed the plane that his First Officer had been involved in a minor collision on the way to the airport. Unfortunately, that meant that our flight would be delayed an additional two hours while crew scheduling located another First Officer, but it would put the rest of the crew over their duty day. Because we were in an outstation, the airline’s only option was to cancel the flight and reset the crew.

The Blame Game

Was it their fault? Anyone could play Monday morning quarterback the situation and think of ways in which it could have theoretically been prevented. The reality of the situation is that an extraordinary scenario occurred, and the result was a flight cancelation.

Such cancelations are not taken lightly by the airline. Because my flight was canceled, the aircraft could not return to its hub city. Neither could it continue to another city with a different crew. All of those passengers were now either delayed while the airline routed another aircraft. The crew was also stuck in the same city for an extra night, meaning tomorrow’s plans were now in jeopardy.

How Do I Know My Flight Will Cancel?

Excluding force majeure, some airlines can accurately forecast events they call “service disruptions” due to weather, rolling maintenance issues, or crew shortages. For this reason, I highly encourage my friends to download the airline’s mobile application and activate push notifications. While I rarely advocate making phone alerts for anything outside of stock market updates or Instagram messages, activating the alerts before a trip is vital. At a minimum, having notifications active before a flight can save a lot of headache at the airport.

When US-based air carriers cancel a flight, their contract requires them to comply with your ticket’s purchase agreement. Suppose you have ever wondered why the airline will flat-out refuse to let you board a flight to Burbank when your original destination is Los Angeles International Airport. In that case, their contractual requirement is to get you to your original destination.

With that in mind, many airlines will begin their re-accommodation process through their mobile app. If you’ve ever seen the long lines waiting for assistance at the customer service desks, two things are clear: you want to avoid being in that line, and the line is first come, first served. Once the message that your flight is canceled is pushed, a second message should follow offering to rebook your flight. Most of the time, you will compete with an average of 35 to 190 other passengers trying to get on the next available flight simultaneously. Who wouldn’t want the competitive edge of being near the front of the line by getting the notification first?

While modern airline reservations systems have specific protocol built into their ticketing process, there is still much that can be gained through a friendly smile and positive demeanor.
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Pack Your Patience

While modern airline reservation systems have specific protocols built into their ticketing process, much can still be gained through a friendly smile and positive demeanor. If you find yourself face-to-face with an airline employee, acknowledge that they go to work daily just as you do. Today’s airline travel system is overwhelmed with demand and get-there-itis.

Anyone who has worked in customer service has their fair share of stories of horrible customers. Social media and YouTube channels are full of ornery passenger videos. A genuinely negative experience will likely be made whole through direct communication with the airline’s customer service after the fact. In the days of modern media, a meltdown in a terminal or onboard an aircraft could end eternally memorialized on the internet, or worse, in criminal charges.

Traveling on airlines can be difficult, especially for those of us who expect excellence in our daily lives. A clear mind, a positive demeanor and a better understanding of the air domain can help keep you from becoming a “So there I was” story for an unwitting airline customer service agent.

Now that we know how to survive airline cancelations, try out this SKILLSET: Ace A Job Interview

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