WTF is going on with flights right now?

Air travel is miserable at the moment. Experts share how to deal.

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Vanishing luggage, pets flying alone, strikes — air travel is a shitshow, and it will likely stay that way for the foreseeable future.

Planning a trip? Here are the biggest issues plaguing the travel industry right now — and tips for what you can do to save yourself a major headache.

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20%

The percentage of flights delayed or canceled at many of the world’s busiest airports in recent weeks, per FlightAware data.

Wall Street Journal

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Flights are canceled to help consolidate other flights to save operating expenses. Pilots are also retiring faster than they can be replaced.

Romey Louangvilay, a Travel Marketing Professional who works with the Tourism Authority of Thailand

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More people are traveling this summer than before the pandemic and airports can’t keep up.

The main reason? Staff shortages.

Flight attendants and airport personnel were laid off or encouraged to retire en masse during the pandemic, and it’s not exactly easy to hire new people, as Axios reported.

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Tip: Be Kind and Patient

Yes, it’s annoying and frustrating to face delays, cancellations, lost baggage, and other travel mishaps. But keep in mind what the workers are dealing with on their end — not only because of the whole “you get more bees with honey” thing, but also because they’re human and deserve basic respect.

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Tip: Book early flights.

“You can book the first flight out of the day, which is less likely to be affected by spiraling delays and cancellations that can build up,” says Melanie Lieberman, a managing editor at the Points Guy.

This also gives you more wiggle room. If your morning flight gets canceled, you have the entire rest of the day to try and get on another flight.

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Tip: Fly direct.

To reduce margins for error, Louangvilay recommends avoiding connecting flights whenever possible. If you can’t do that, try to book something with a long layover.

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"Very slim"

The chances of a checked bag arriving at its destination from London’s Heathrow Airport, according to a baggage handler who spoke to Business Insider. All over the world, airlines have been losing luggage like it’s their job.

Business Insider India

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Tip: Keep calm and carry on (your bags).

Don’t check any bags unless you absolutely must. In that case, keep all essential documents, money, and medications — as well as a couple pairs of clean underwear — in your carry-on.

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84 minutes

The amount of time some people waited in line to get through TSA at an airport in Maui recently.

USA Today

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Tip: Get line-skipping memberships

“Get TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, and Clear,” Louangvilay says, referring to programs that help cut down on time in security and customs.

They require a background check and a brief interview, they could save you literal hours if you plan to travel in the next year.

Some credit cards and frequent flier programs offer discounts or refunds — so be sure to explore your options before paying.

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Stranded? Stranded? Stranded? Stranded?

Some airports are so backed up that if your flight gets canceled, it might be impossible to book another flight on the day of your scheduled departure.

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Tip: Know your rights.

You do have some protections under federal law, per the U.S. Department of Transportation.

If your flight is significantly delayed to the point where you can’t or don’t want to travel, for example, the airline has to refund you. And if your flight is cancelled, the airline will likely rebook you — but if they can’t, or the new schedule doesn’t work for you, you’re entitled to a refund or voucher for future travel.

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Tip: Be Flexible

I know, easier said than done. But if you’re traveling for fun, be open to pivoting and going somewhere else in the event your original itinerary gets seriously derailed — which also means booking hotels and experiences with flexible cancellation policies.

Sure, London would be great — but if the airline can get you to Spain instead, well, Salud!

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