The recent events with Delta and Southwest have everyone wondering: how can a major airline’s computer system be so vulnerable that a tripped breaker could create days of cancellations leaving thousands of passengers stranded in airports around the world?
Some say it is a matter of antiquated IT. Will Delta, the No. 2 airline in the US, feel a financial impact after these events? Their stockholders are a little alarmed: “We hear about it when they buy new planes; now we want to know when the last upgrades were made to computer systems.”
Wall Street experts who watch the airline sector say most travelers will not let these issues affect their vacation plans. They will continue to book flights on Delta and other airlines; people have to fly.
But those experts were probably not trapped at the airport when Delta’s operations came to a screeching halt.
And yet every traveler has experienced a delay of one kind or another. If you always remind yourself that travel is not perfect, you will probably be ok.
Here are a few more pointers:
Book a Morning Flight
This gives you a better chance of rebooking another flight later in the day. When flights are cancelled due to weather, the delays start piling up and the afternoon flights get pushed.
An Hour is Never Enough
Give yourself plenty of time at your connecting flight. The short travel time may look appealing on the screen when buying the ticket, but an hour between flights is nerve-wracking enough, much less when delays are announced. A nice 2-hour cushion, especially when flying internationally, will make your travel day stress-free.
Check the Weather
Speaking of weather delays, stay on top of the weather along your flight path. Check online before leaving for the airport to make sure your flight is on time (although as in the case with Delta, this information may not be accurate or even available).
Make the Most of Your Carry On
Some people can actually pack everything into their carry-on. I could never figure out how to travel this light but having a change of clothes handy will make it nice if you have to overnight at your connecting flight. Your carry-on should be a mini-survival kit: stow a comfy outfit and some layers, a toothbrush or breath spray, makeup, phone charger, meds/analgesics and of course travel documents. For the kids: snacks, books and games. Don’t make the carry-on so cumbersome that you feel like you’re dragging an anchor everytime you go to the restroom or want to look for a restaurant while waiting for your flight to reboot. An overloaded carry-on will make you a slave to your seat in the terminal.
Get a Room
And how much nicer that change of clothes will feel if you are at a hotel near the airport and not actually in the airport. Once you determine the delay or cancellation is a game changer, like severe weather, a computer meltdown or only one flight a day to your final destination and you missed it, don’t hesitate, book a hotel for the night. Ask the airline to compensate you and make the most of your unexpected visit to an unknown city by heading straight to the lobby bar.
Start Making Phone Calls
First thing is to advise everyone waiting for your arrival. If a travel agent booked your flight, call them, they can spring to action fast and have all the resources at their disposal. If you are missing a meeting, get on Skype or Facetime and participate by video. If you are missing a wedding or your first night at a beautiful villa in the tropics, call every airline in the area, including your own (customer service may be quicker to help than the ticket desk) and get on another flight. If you are able to rebook, ask for a refund or travel voucher from your airline and be sure they waive the fees charged to change flights. Remember: you get more flies with honey than with vinegar. Everyone is stressed. Getting mad only makes it worse. Air rage is all around you. Be firm but polite and stay alert.
Think of the Children
Keeping the kids distracted and in good spirits is important for you to be able to cope. Bring out the electronic devices. Help avoid crankiness from hunger by finding a restaurant near the gate. Notify airline personnel immediately if traveling with young children and ask for their help.
Take it in Stride
The key to getting through a cancellation is accepting there is nothing you can do about it. Nobody wants to get on an airplane with mechanical problems. So think of your delay as part of the trip, adding to the adventure. Stay hydrated. Walk around to stretch your legs. Keep calm. Find a TV with a sports event or the news. Go to the gift shop and buy a paperback or some magazines. Use it as a time to read, stream a movie, write in your journal – time will go faster than you realize. If it is already after 6pm, resign yourself to the change of plans, find a hotel and a good place to eat.
About Vacation Villas of Mexico Founder, Vanessa Cole
The founder of the company, Vanessa Cole, lived in Puerto Vallarta for 10 years and in Cancun for 2 years. She has worked in Luxury Vacation Villa Rentals since 2001.
Originally from San Antonio, Texas, Vanessa earned a degree from the University of Texas in Austin, majoring in International Business and Latin American Studies. Fluent in Spanish, she has worked and traveled all over Mexico and South America.