RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Flight cancellations and delays are still impacting thousands of people after the long Juneteenth holiday weekend.  

With delays and flight cancellations becoming the norm, CBS 17 wants you to know what you can do to protect yourself. 

Trying to get anywhere by air during the past week or two has been a hit or miss proposition, with the emphasis on “miss” due to thousands of flights being delayed or canceled. 

With the busy summer travel season here, experts say you better be prepared for more of the same and know your passenger rights.

Before your flight ever leaves, you need to prepare yourself for the fact it may never get off the ground because of a cancellation. 

Alyssa Parker of the Better Business Bureau of Eastern NC said you need to check on your airline’s rebooking policy before you buy 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.” 

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

Not all cancellation policies are created equally.  

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

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

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

  • Refundable means getting your original payment back the way you paid for it (Either cash or credit) 
  • Reusable means your ticket money is applied to future travel.  

One of the biggest factors behind the current wave of cancellations is staffing, particularly pilot shortages and that’s not going to get better anytime soon. 

“You can’t just go hire a pilot, have them kick the tires and sit in the cockpit and fly the plane,” said CBS News Senior Travel Advisor Peter Greenberg. “Training takes time.    

Because of all the uncertainty of flying these days, you may want to make sure you’ve got your own 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 if you are concerned it’s not going to happen.” 

That travel insurance could also cover additional expenses you incur if your flight is canceled, like hotel expenses or meals.  

Meanwhile, the US Secretary of Transportation is calling for meetings with the airlines to see what it can do to create a less disruptive travel season this summer. 

There are a lot more rights that air travelers have, and the U.S. Department of Transportation has a searchable database that answers all your questions.