Important tips for travelers as airlines continue with massive numbers of canceled flights

Investigators

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Airlines across the country are continuing to struggle with canceling flights.

Over the weekend, American Airlines canceled nearly 2,000 flights and even more on Monday when many flights were taken off the schedule.

American blames bad weather out of its hub in Dallas and a shortage of workers for the widespread disruption.

Three weeks ago, Southwest Airlines was forced to cancel more than 2,000 flights over several days due problems it blamed on weather and air traffic control issues.

That meltdown cost Southwest $75 million.

If your flight is canceled, CBS 17 Consumer Investigator Steve Sbraccia looked into what your rights are as a passenger.

With the busy holiday travel season coming up, many people have already booked flights and with massive cancellations periodically happening, air travelers need to know how to deal with it.

Before a flight ever leaves, a traveler needs to be prepared for the option that it may never get off the ground because of a cancellation.

Alyssa Parker of the Better Business Bureau of eastern North Carolina said would-be flyers need to check on their airline’s rebooking policy before buying a ticket.

“See if there’s anything they can do about rebooking,” she said. “Know that ahead of time so you aren’t surprised by a cancellation.”

Travelers also need to know airlines do not guarantee their schedules and they are never legally responsible for damages someone might suffer because you don’t arrive at your destination on time — or not at all.

Flyers also need to remember that not all cancellation policies are created equal.

“Cancellation policies do vary, so know them before you book your flight,” said Parker.

Generally, if a flight is canceled by the airline, a ticket holder has a right to a seat on the original airline’s next available flight or a refund for the unused portion of the ticket.

Travelers also need to know the difference between a refundable and reusable policy.

Refundable means getting the original payment back the way it was originally paid for — either cash or credit.

Reusable means the money for the ticket is applied to future travel.

Because of all the uncertainty of flying these days, travelers may want to make sure they have added protection in the form of trip or travel insurance for even routine flights.

“If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected,” said Parker. “Trip insurance can offer that coverage of you are concerned it’s not going to happen.”

One other thing: If you are cancelled, as hard as it is, keep your cool.

If you start getting all aggressive and yelling at the person trying to help, experts at Airfare Watchdog say it’ll probably gain you less assistance in long run–not more.

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