Frustrated Travelers Open Up About Their Numerous Flight Cancelations

by Josh Lanier

Airlines canceled thousands of flights this weekend, leaving hundreds of thousands of frustrated travelers stranded in airports across the country. COVID-19, staffing shortages, wild weather, and a seasonal surge of passengers all contributed to the problem. And it doesn’t look like it will let up anytime soon.

Many people hoped 2022 would bring a change of luck, but the New Year looks a lot like the last one: disappointing. Some traveled to visit family for the holidays and ended up trapped at airports on their return trips. Others ended up stuck on vacations that won’t end.

“I just want to go home, at the end of the day,” one stranded passenger told NBC News. “I didn’t want to kick off the New Year like this.”

One couple said they are on day 12 of a planned 7-day trip to the Florida Keys. The airline canceled their first flight because of COVID-19. Weather canceled another.

ABC News reported that airlines have canceled more than 12,000 flights since New Year’s Eve, and thousands more were scuttled the week before. The companies have grounded 1,000 flights scheduled for tomorrow, according to FlightAware.

The problem is so pervasive that airlines are paying staff two or three times their salaries to work extra flights. But companies already faced a staffing crunch before these delays, and droves of flight attendants and pilots have called out sick because of the pandemic.

What To Do If The Airline Cancels Your Flight

Buying a ticket for a flight isn’t always a guarantee you’ll be on that plane. There is a suitcase full of “what ifs” that could cause the airline to nullify your boarding pass. So, preparation is key in keeping your sanity through this ordeal.

Scott Keyes, the founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights, said it’s important to know your rights. Don’t rely on gate agents or the airlines to have all the answers.

“When a flight gets canceled, the agents have tons to deal with, and they’re just trying to figure out how to get the situation resolved,” he told the New York Times. “They’re not necessarily trying to figure out what’s the best, simplest, most appropriate flight for your specific situation.”

Avoid getting stuck at the airport if you can help it. Check on your flight’s status before you leave. Call international call centers rather than American-based customer service lines. The reps at the Canadian office of Delta can help you too, and they likely have a shorter wait time, experts noted.

Push for compensation from the airline like refunds, discounts on future trips, and hotel vouchers. Most airlines are willing to work with passengers left stranded. Offer solutions that you would be amenable to. But remember that there are hundreds of people in your same predicament. So yelling at airline employees won’t be as effective as you hope.

“If you’re an airline agent, especially with these hour-long holds, your entire day is spent dealing with irate, frustrated, impatient customers who are frankly not treating you nearly as well as you ought to be treated,” Keyes said. “If they have somebody who’s actually treating them in a humane way, I think they’re much more likely to actually go out of their way to try to help you.”