People use airplanes to get from one place to another for many reasons. They might be going on a work trip for a sales call or to support a major project. If not for work, the trip could be for personal reasons. Maybe someone is going to see the birth of a child, to catch the big game, to go to a wedding or it might be a sad trip to see someone for the last time or even pay respects at the funeral of a loved one. Other trips are purely for fun.
No matter the reason for travel, everyone wants to get to their destination. That’s the reason they purchased a ticket in the first place. However, sometimes you really need to get to your destination on time.
With air travel in America stuck in a state between uncertainty and chaos, which airline should you fly to get you from point A to B?
I wish I could give you an answer of which airline you should fly if your trip is for an event that will happen if you’re there or not. The problem is that seemingly every airline has suffered a major disruption over the last several months and I can’t say that one of them is more likely to get you to your destination than another.
There are some things you can do if you need to be somewhere at a particular time.
Book a direct flight
If you have the ability to fly directly to your destination instead of taking a connecting flight, do it. Additional flights only increase your chance of hitting a delay or cancellation. If your trip is really important, it may be worth it to drive to a bigger airport with direct flights than taking a connecting flight from a smaller airport.
Travel the day before you need to be there
If your trip is time-sensitive, it’s a good idea to get there at least 1 day in advance. No matter if you’re taking a cruise or attending a family gathering, planning to get there the day of the event isn’t advised. Build in the chance of a long delay or even rebooking a flight the next morning into your plans. If we’re taking a positioning flight before an overseas trip, we always arrive the day before our flight.
If the trip is really important, book backup plans
Since flight delays can be limited to a single airline, if you need to get somewhere it’s a good idea to book a refundable trip on a different airline. If JetBlue is suffering a meltdown and cancels your flight, you’d have the option to go across the airport to board your backup flight on United.
If you’re able to book an award ticket, most airlines allow you to cancel and redeposit miles to your account with no penalty. Even if you need to book a fully refundable cash ticket, it’s a good insurance policy if your original flight is canceled.
If all else fails, be prepared to pay whatever you need to get to your destination
If your flight is canceled by the airline, they have no other flights, and you didn’t book a backup flight, you may need to pay whatever another airline is charging to get to your destination.
If you’re fortunate enough to find a replacement ticket at the last minute, it’s not going to be cheap. When I was in the middle of my worst travel day ever, I paid an insane amount of Delta SkyMiles for a ticket from DCA-AUS. While it was more than I’d like to pay, I got near my destination (by finding a flight on Delta through ATL to San Antonio.)
Flying is stressful enough but flying within a timetable ramps the stress level to 11. Doing what you can to plan for problems and knowing that you’re able to deal with setbacks along the way puts you in control of your destiny instead of leaving you at the mercy of a single airline.
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