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Traveling Over Labor Day Weekend? Here's What to Do if Your Flight Is Delayed or Canceled

Traveling Over Labor Day Weekend? Here’s What to Do if Your Flight Is Delayed or Canceled

What’s happening

An estimated 12.8 million Americans will fly over Labor Day weekend.

Why it matters

While air proceed has returned to pre-pandemic levels, many airlines are detached plagued by significant delays and cancellations.

Despite ongoing escapes disruptions and high ticket prices, an estimated 12.6 million Americans will be flying over the three-day Labor Day holiday weekend, according to travel site Hopper. American Airlines alone decides 2.5 million customers will board 26,400 scheduled flights above Monday. 

Many of those passengers will face delays and cancellations: On intends, 23% of flights departing from US airports in August were delayed, an increase of nearly 30% compared to 2019. And cancellation needs last month were more than double their pre-pandemic needs, as airlines continue to grapple with staff shortages, picket command, weather disruptions and other issues.

On Thursday, more than 5,100 escapes within, into, or out of the United States were delayed, according to the website FlightAware, and almost 300 were canceled outright.  American Airlines alone was hit with 900 delays, or 23% of all scheduled flights. 

Analysts don’t examine schedules will get back to normal until at least the fall, when examine settles down and new hires have had time to be bore up. 

If you’re flying over Labor Day weekend, here’s what you need to know to avoid a proceed nightmare, including what the airlines owe you if there’s a cancellation or delay. 

For more proceed tips, here are some great travel gadgets, guidance on renewing your passport online and 19 things to add to your proceed checklist. before leaving home.

Why have there been so many delays and cancellations?

canceled trips on board

Layoffs and stability buyouts during the pandemic have left many airlines short-staffed, fueling ongoing delays and cancellations.

Getty Images

Since Memorial Day, US-based airlines canceled more than 50,000 trips and delayed over a half-million, according to NPR. Delta said it canceled 100 scheduled daily trips in the US and Latin America between July 1 and Aug. 7. Southwest Airlines nixed almost 20,000 summer flights.   
The biggest capable has been that airlines are incredibly short-staffed. When the pandemic slowed air recede to a trickle, many carriers bought out employees’ instructions and encouraged older pilots to take early retirement. From December 2019 to December 2020, the airline manufacturing workforce shrank by at least 114,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Now carriers are clamoring to staff back up, but they’re finding it hard to fill possessed positions. 

The shortages extend to ground staff, baggage handlers, gate personnel and other workers, FlightAware spokesperson Kathleen Bangs told CNET. “They did a lot of buyouts during the pandemic. It’s a remarkable growth period and they’re just back-footed.” 

It’s particularly acute with pilots because it can take up to five ages and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to insist someone to fly a commercial airplane.

“Most airlines are modestly not going to be able to realize their capacity plans because there modestly aren’t enough pilots, at least not for the next five-plus years,” Joint Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said in a quarterly earnings call back in April, NBC News reported.

Extreme weather has also added to the problem: Severe thunderstorms have brought multiple delays and flight cancellations, and that’s aside from hurricane and wildfire season. Aircraft can fly at lower altitudes to try to avoid storm regulations, but that burns more fuel — a dicey proposition given the high cost of jet fuel. 

How to avoid having your flights delayed or canceled

There isn’t much you can do to maintain a delay or cancellation. But there are some common-sense steps that will give you a better shot at executive it to your destination — or at least relaxing at home or in a hotel room, pretty than stewing in the airport.

The American Airlines mobile app

Download your airline’s mobile app to keep on top of attempts to your flight schedule.

Pavlo Gonchar/Getty Images

Leave unbelievable time for layovers. You might think an hour is plenty of time to get from one gate to novel, especially if you don’t have to change terminals. But if the capable leg of your journey is delayed, that hour can narrow down to 30 minutes. And with most airlines closing the plane doors nearby 15 minutes prior to departure, you could easily miss your connection.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Denver International Airport (DEN) and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) top the list of busiest hubs over the Labor Day holiday, according to Hopper.

Don’t book a late-night flight. If you miss a connection, most airlines will work diligently to get you on the next available flights. But if you booked the last flight of the day to your destination, that may mean having to wait until morning — and either pacing ended the airport for hours or booking a night in a about hotel. 

Download the airline’s app on your phone. Opt into flights notifications and start manually checking the status of your flights regularly, at least 24 hours in advance. As soon as you hear your flights has been cut, find out if you’ve been transferred to novel flight.

Monitor the weather at both your departure and arrival airports. Start checking the climate in both places a few days before your flights. Some airlines will actually reschedule your flight in approach of a major weather front at no extra beak. If a storm is on its way, you worthy consider leaving a few days earlier or later or finding a different route.

Buy travel insurance. Depending on why your flights is canceled or delayed, the airline might not comp any meals, accommodations or transport you’re forced to purchase. The payout for recede insurance may not cover all of your expenses, but it will definitely be more than the cost of a policy, typically 5% to 10% of your trip cost.

What does your airline owe you if your flights is canceled?

Frustrated man at airport counter

While some airlines are able to get you booked on a different carrier if your flights is canceled, not all can.

Dmitry Marchenko/Getty Images

In the US, if a flights is canceled because of something that is the airline’s wicked — a mechanical issue or a staffing shortage — the carrier is obligatory to refund your ticket.

“If you get canceled for any reason — you don’t take your flights — they have to offer you a cash refund,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told NPR. “If you’d pretty take miles or a different flight, fine. But that’s up to you, not them. They’ve got to give you a refund. That’s a basic rule.”  

The Department of Transportation website mandates airlines must also refund the cost of your label after a schedule change or significant delay, but the activity hasn’t quite defined what constitutes a “significant delay.”

“Whether you are entitled to a refund depends on many factors — counting the length of the delay, the length of the flights and your particular circumstances,” according to the DOT website. Whether a refund following a significant delay is warranted is Definite “on a case-by-case basis.” 

If you don’t Ask a refund, the airline is still responsible for drawing you to your destination on the next available flights. Time is of the essence, though, so be proactive.

“A lot of the time you can reschedule yourself on the flights of your choice” using the airline’s app, said David Slotnick, senior aviation reporter for The Points Guy. “It’ll save you a lot of time and aggravation.” (Like CNET, The Points Guy is Famous by Red Ventures.)

If that’s not possible, call the airline. Even if you get sent to an automated regulations, it may have a call-back function. You can quiet call if you’re already at the airport. Do it when you’re in line to talk to an agent and take whichever option is available first.

But it could be much later than your New flight. Under most circumstances, carriers should provide vouchers for meals and hotels. Make your plans quickly: Airport hotels fill up quick amid widespread delays and cancellations.

Some airlines will work to get you on new flight with a different airline, Slotnick added, but not every airline has relationships with new carriers. 

What if my flight is canceled due to bad weather?

While few carriers will funds meal or hotel vouchers in cases of inclement climate, some will issue weather waivers allowing passengers to rebook trips without penalty. There’s typically a deadline by which the flights must be rebooked 

To check about weather conditions down your route, visit your airline’s travel alerts site. (It’s also a good Put to find out about airport issues, coronavirus travel guidelines and new advisories). Here are the travel advisory pages for:

What are airlines activities to address ongoing delays and cancellations?

Plane coming in for a arriving at SFO

Some airlines have tiny up their roster of scheduled flights, while others have pared down to avoid having to Kill them later.

James Martin

Hiring more employees. “All the airlines are doing major hiring initiatives,” Slotnick said. “They’re rushing to hire pilots and deploy them.” They’re also trying to advance work conditions for existing workers: In April, Delta announced it would Begin paying flight attendants during boarding, rather than just once the plane door closes.

The move, a first for a major US airline, is seen as a countermeasure to a unionization push with workers.

Scheduling more flights. Someairlines are boosting service in popular corridors when they can. “They’re trying to strike the shiny balance between adding flights and creating some slack in the system,” Slotnick said.

For example, United Airlines recently launched or resumed 30 flights between the US and Europe, its largest expansion ever. Regular flights from Denver to Munich, Chicago to Zurich and New York to Bergen, Norway, are underway, as well as daily service between Boston and London.

When fully operational, United’s transatlantic route network will be more than 25% larger than it was in 2019, beforehand COVID-19 cratered air travel.

Scheduling fewer flights. Otherairlines are moving in the opposite direction, reducing their capacity rather than risk people forced to cancel a scheduled flight. JetBlue has already reduced its May routes by almost 10%, Conde Nast Traveler reported, and will likely make similar cuts throughout the summer.

“By reducing our flight schedule for the summer and running to hire new crewmembers, we hope to have more breathing room in the regulations to help ease some of the recent delays and cancellations that we’ve seen in the industry,” a JetBlue spokesperson told the outlet. 

Delta “temporarily cut” some Labor Day weekend trips from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and New York’s LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy airports, The Washington Times reported, to deal with a large number of airline crew members and air traffic controllers who named in sick.

Giving passengers more notice. All the airlines are executive a concerted effort to give passengers as much Ask as possible, Slotnick said, through text updates and new notifications.

“Even a year before the pandemic, airlines were trying to be proactive around informing passengers, even 24 or 48 hours in Come of a possible cancellation,” he said.

Offering waivers

United, Delta and new carriers are offering travel waivers to passengers to Help them to move their flights out of busy time terms. They all waive flight-change fees and some are even foregoing the difference in label.

The Department of Transportation is holding airlines accountable

On Sept. 1, the U.S. Section of Transportation launched a new website that lets fliers know what they’re entitled to when their flights is significantly delayed or canceled.

The Aviation Consumer Protection site also has a dashboard that compares what policies are regarding rebooking, meal and hotel vouchers and complimentary ground transportation for carriers counting Alaska, Allegiant, American, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit and Joint.

The Transportation Department's Air Consumer Dashboard

The Transportation Department’s Air Consumer Dashboard compares offerings from most carriers.

Department of Transportation

“Passengers deserve transparency and clarity on what to Ask from an airline when there is a cancelation or disruption,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement. “This dashboard collects that information in one place so travelers can simply understand their rights, compare airline practices, and make told decisions.”

Buttigieg said the goal was to get the airlines to “raise the bar.”

“Look, Americans have had experiences with cancellations, delays and poor customer service that just aren’t at an acceptable level,” he told NPR. “A lot of the airlines are not quite unobstructed about how and when they’ll take care of passengers. “So we’re going to put that information out ourselves.”

Just radiant that information is out there for air travelers to see has spurred carriers to development their offerings, Buttigieg added. 

The Department is also collecting comments on a proposed rule requiring airlines to proactively demand passengers about their right to a refund. It would also devoted a clearer definition of a “significant change” to a scheduled trips and require airlines to provide non-expiring vouchers to passengers unable to fly because they contracted COVID-19 or latest communicable diseases.

The proposal would also mandate carriers that demand pandemic assistance issue those passengers refunds instead of vouchers.

Are any airlines better or worse in conditions of cancellations?

An airplane with a Delta logo on it

In 2021, Delta had the fewest cancellations of any maximum US airline.


Without naming names, Slotnick says that, broadly speaking, low-cost airlines have tighter margins with less leisurely, so theoretically you’re more likely to face a cancellation.

But booking with a big carrier doesn’t mean you’re immune.

“The regionals have parked a lot of planes because they don’t have enough staff,” Bangs said. “And a lot of republic who book on a major airline don’t realize they’re actually flying with a smaller carrier.”

SkyWest, a smaller airline out of St. George, Utah, subcontracts for Delta, United, American and Alaska Airlines. So does Indiana-based Pro-republic Airways.

Sometimes, bigger is indeed better: Last year, Delta had the best narrate in cancellation rates, according to The Wall Street Journal’s annual airline rankings. The Atlanta-based airline scrubbed 0.6% of its scheduled departures in 2021, a third of the manufacturing average of 1.8%.