On The Early Show Saturday, Tom Parsons, CEO of BestFares.com, guided viewers to steps to keep their delays, disruptions and frustration to a minimum.
When you're dealing with a hub, you're talking about something like 84 percent of all flights being on one carrier. For instance, Dallas is 84 percent American Airline flights). If that carrier is grounding lots of its planes, you are going to have a heck of a time booking an alternative flight.
SIGN UP FOR ELECTRONIC NOTIFICATION
I think I was on the first of the cancelled flights this week. I was coming back from Tampa, and I got advanced notice of the cancellations because I am registered for that service. When you fly any airline, even if it's a one-time thing, sign up to be a Frequent Flyer. That will get you access to register for electronic notification. You can give the airline an e-mail address and/or a cell phone number and, with early notice of these cancellations, put yourself in a better position to either wait it out at home, or go to the airport and negotiate your alternative flights.
ASK FOR A FLIGHT ON ANOTHER CARRIER
You need to push the airlines to look at the options. Most of the time, they'll try to accommodate you with airlines they have an agreement with. There is a rule, called the "240 Rule," that specifies the circumstances that entitle you to some form of compensation from the airline. Most of the time, the carrier does need to provide you a similar flight on another carrier.
CONSIDER TRAVEL INSURANCE
For the first time ever, this summer I am actually recommending this as a consideration. The more valuable the trip, the more you should consider buying the insurance. If you're flying to a cruise departure city, this would be a good buy. If you miss your flight and can't get to the cruise on time, the insurance would cover alternative mode of transport to get you to meet up with the cruise at a later date.
WHAT IS THE SUMMER TRAVEL SEASON GOING TO BE LIKE THIS YEAR?
Airlines this summer are going to be flying at 90 - 100 percent capacity, which means that, even without inspections, there isn't going to be a lot of wiggle room. Passengers are going to have to get to the airport on time. They really should try to print their boarding passes at home, to avoid lines at counters in the airport and familiarize themselves with the baggage rules and restrictions. Getting this wrong at the baggage check-in could cost you valuable time and lead to your missing your flight. With capacity so full, you would be hard-pressed getting out on another flight that day.