Families will soon be in motion, heading to their vacation gateway.
If an airplane is part of your plans, you’re probably wondering about those flight delays and cancellations that marred so many vacations last summer.
In April, the Federal Aviation Administration warned about the potential for major airline delays and cancellations this summer -- citing a severe lack of air traffic controllers.
With that advisory in mind, you may want to consider booking refundable flights and rooms.
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Sally French is a travel and financial expert at NerdWallet.
“NerdWallet recommends booking directly with the hotel simply because it's easier to make changes in cancellations, and if you're doing it through a third party like Expedia, then the process to cancel means that you have to go through Expedia, who then has to go to the hotel and now there's this level of this middleman,” said French. “When you book directly with the hotel, you avoid that.”
It’s important to build in an extra travel day if you’re flying to board a cruise ship and to always pack essential items in your carry-on bags.
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Check out the Department of Transportation’s website to learn more about your rights as a passenger.
“I think a lot of people tend to forget that they are covered under federal law, that if their itinerary is canceled or significantly delayed, whether it's in the control of the airlines or out of the control like a weather event, you are protected to get a full cash refund if you decide you don't want to travel or rebooked on a new flight at the earliest possible,” said Katy Nastro, a travel expert with Going.com. “Taking a moment to head to that website and read up on what you can be covered with will give you a little bit of peace of mind.”
If you have a credit card, use it for your trip. Most offer some great perks.
“A lot of people don't realize that many travel credit cards actually include a travel insurance as a benefit. So as long as your card has this benefit and you pay for your trip with that credit card, then your trip can be insured,” said French.”
Credit cards also offer protection against fraud.
“If you're traveling internationally, just make sure that credit card is accepted,” said French.
If you are considering buying travel insurance, take the time to read through all of the fine print. Those policies are often riddled with limitations and exclusions.
And don’t forget to download your airline’s app.
“If there's any changes or any last-minute delays, you'll have that information right at your fingertips as soon as it happens. So that way you can make the best plan,” said Wendy Marley, travel counselor with AAA.
You can avoid the gate lines and reschedule your flights on the app the second you see a cancellation or delay pop up.
If you’re flying abroad, download the State Department’s "SMART traveler app." There you can sign up for their SMART Traveler Enrollment Program. The State Department will alert you about any advisories at your destination country and get in touch with you in the event of an emergency.
And remember, getting the help of a travel agent can make your trip planning go smoothly.
“They're able to help you look at different options,” said Marley. “You'll want to plan advance in advance as you can look at off-peak times, traveling off-peak times during the week or off-peak season, that helps.”
Make sure to keep an eye on travel scams. If you see an online ad or email promising free or a discounted vacation, don’t fall for them. Those deals are too good to be true, with scammers often behind these fake offers.
Always do your research and never sign or pay something until you know the terms of the deal.
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