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Travel Expert On Re-Booking Canceled Flights: Call The Airline Directly, Do Not Try Your Luck Online

NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- It was another weekend of chaos at the airports. Thousands of flights were cancelled, leaving travelers scrambling to re-book.

As we get closer to the holidays, CBS2's Nick Caloway on Monday went to Newark Liberty Airport to find out what travelers can expect.

Halloween travelers got more tricks than treats when American Airlines canceled 1,000 flights on Sunday, after scrapping nearly 900 over the previous two days.

The news left many travelers wary about upcoming trips.

"You just never know what you're going to expect. So you just try to show up as early as possible," said J.T. Barker of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

"I hope they don't cancel my flight," added Sammi Alboa of Katy, Texas.

Much like other recent mass cancellations, the latest was caused, in part, by staffing shortages. Travel experts say airlines have been too aggressive about scheduling flights.

CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg called it a perfect storm.

"When travel came back with a vengeance, the airlines doubled and tripled down on their schedule and literally over-scheduled their airlines. They couldn't support it. Then you have one little weather problem in the system, it all comes crashing down," Greenberg said.

Now, with the holidays fast approaching, airlines are starting to cancel flights ahead of time to make up for staffing shortages.

So, what can you do if it happens to you?

Greenberg recommends checking to make sure your flight is still scheduled, even if it's months away, and if your flight is canceled, call the airline directly.

Don't try and rebook online.

"Get on the phone and talk to a human being, either at the airline or a travel agent, because they have access to the systems. They have inventory on their screen that you don't see on your screen. That's the best way to go," Greenberg said.

Greenberg also said bookings for flights to the U.S. are up 750%. One week from now, the border will open for foreign vaccinated travelers. So if the airlines are short-staffed as they are, it's about to get even worse.

American Airlines officials say the company is bringing back flight attendants who were on leave, starting this week. The airline is also trying to hire new pilots in time for the holidays.

CBS2's Nick Caloway contributed to this report.

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