All this shifting and uncertainty also means travel agents must give their clients news that they may not want to hear—like having to dole out a bit more cash so as to better the odds of a smooth trip. “Some low-cost carriers might be a lot cheaper, but they might only have one flight instead of five,” Les says.
As it stands, traveling might be a bit rough for the foreseeable future. Even the CEO of United Airlines conceded to the notion, saying “the system simply can’t handle the volume today, much less the anticipated growth,” in the coming summer months, during an earnings call in January.
But There Are Some Things You Can Do for Smoother Travel
And because things might be rough for a while, we asked our experts to share some tidbits that won’t guarantee you have a smooth trip but can at least set you up to win. Here’s their best advice:
1. Book flight earlier in the day.While delays can be caused by several things, Les says the early morning flights are a lot less likely to be stalled.
“If you’re booking one of the first flights out, the plane is there from the night before so, unless it’s really bad weather or a mechanical issue, it’s most likely going to take off,” she explains. “If you book a flight mid-morning to early afternoon, however, that plane is most likely coming from somewhere else, and it has more opportunity to be delayed on its way to you.”
2. When you have a connection, don’t book your flights back-to-back. No one wants to spend more time than they have to in an airport, however, McIntyre advises against booking connecting flights that are too close together.
“[It used to be that] the minimum connection time was one hour. Now it’s 30 minutes and you’re almost guaranteed to miss that flight,” she says. “So many people don’t look at that because [they see] the shortest duration or the cheapest [option], they book it, only to miss it almost every time.”
3. Avoid checking bags when you can.If you have the option to pack light and travel with just your carry-on luggage, Les highly encourages you do so. “Legally, your bags can’t fly without you,” she explains. That means, if your connecting flight is delayed for eight hours, for example, you don’t have the option to look at any earlier flights because your bag gets automatically loaded onto your designated next flight.