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Air travel tips to navigate flight cancellations and delays

ATLANTA (CW69 News at 10) -- If you plan to book flights over the summer, we have everything you need to know to avoid travel headaches.

Flight cancellations and long delays have become the norm at airports around the country, as staff shortages continue.

"I came in late, and luckily the plane Spirit had an extra seat," said Mario Zavala, who arrived at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on his way to Michigan.

Travelers waiting for flights at the Atlanta airport Thursday afternoon said they're planning ahead more than ever when booking flights.

"[I] Just give myself plenty of time and plan on traffic and delays and bring something to do or a good book to read," said Roger Smith, who lives in Chicago.

"I got in early. I probably get there at least two hours before I'm supposed to depart," said Terri Morrow, who traveled from Fort Myers, Florida to Atlanta to visit family.

The days of being able to arrive just in time for your flight are long gone, and the increase in canceled flights is leaving millions of travelers stranded and heartbroken.

"A lot of it is staffing. Some of it is a shift in traveling behaviors, some of it is the expectation for travel," said Hartsfield-Jackson Chief Commercial Officer and Deputy General Manager Jai Ferrell. "Folks are missing momentous things, like weddings and graduations and funerals. Always give yourself a day or two. Let's not try to arrive that day. Come in a couple of days earlier."

Officials say planning ahead and arriving at least three hours early is key. "Always download your local app for your airline. A lot of the messages and the changes and cancellations are coming via the digital text message," said Ferrell.

She echoes a concerned flight attendant who shared tips on social media that include booking early flights and buying trip insurance. The flight attendant also urged travelers to schedule long layovers and pack smart to avoid hassles at baggage check-in and when loading luggage in the overhead bins on the plane.

And while you're following luggage guidelines, members of the ATL Summer Youth Program and other airport workers recommend packing a little patience. "Remain patient. We are all working very hard here at the airport," said Christopher Stephens, a youth member.

"You might have a delay that doesn't have anything to do respectively here in Atlanta, but may be happening in other regions, so always stay informed with your airline," Ferrell said.

For more Atlanta airport information and tips, click here.

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