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Experts offer travel advice as air traffic increases

Posted at 8:06 AM, May 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-19 09:06:10-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The TSA is reporting 69 straight days of at least a million passengers through their checkpoints.

That’s a streak that began on March 11 and continues through May 18, their most recent reported day of foot traffic.

As you prepare for your next trip, industry leaders offered insight and advice about what you should and should not do.

As Americans return to the friendly skies, it’s not always a smooth route to their final destination.

"The amount of flight changes are insane nowadays…don't get too attached to your flight schedule. Because it's going to change probably more than once, so just you know pack your patience," said JoAnne Weeks, director of vacations for Acendas Travel.

But why so many changes? 41 Action News spoke to American Airlines, and they’re still navigating supply-and-demand imbalance for schedules crafted months ago.

"Schedules that go out about 331 days, pre-COVID, post-COVID, we’re selling 331 days of schedules. Normally we will have a schedule that’s fairly close, it’s based on history, it’s based on that time of year and it’s a reasonable approximation of what we’re going to eventually build," said Jason Reisinger, managing director of global network planning for American.

That historical data left flights with extremely low demand, and itinerary changes. American said it’s working its way back to normal.

"We've already loaded some of the late summer schedules and we've done that, at 90 to 100 days out so we've already started to load schedules back in the normal pre-pandemic timelines," Reisinger said.

What if you book through a third party and your flights change? Weeks said vendors will send you back to the airline, and then, vice versa.

"You get the rubber band effect, with no one to help and that's where it's become a real issue, especially in this last year," she said.

Another issue when looking for a possible refund is disclaimers that protect a vendor's liability.

"There's a probably a lot of fine print that people miss that they have that they're sent, and when they go through the process of confirming their reservation and they just don't or aren't aware they don't take the time to look through that fine print, they get burned," Weeks said.

Experts say buyers beware when navigating discounted flights.

"There's been people that have lost a lot of money through all of this and it's just certainly a shame, it really is," Weeks said.

She recommends booking through the airlines to avoid that rubber band effect. She also suggested buying a key piece of your itinerary - travel insurance, to make sure you’re protected.