What to do if you have issues with airport travel this Thanksgiving

Reporter: Andryanna Sheppard
Published: Updated:
Travelers should prepare for any issues at the airport this holiday season. (CREDIT: WINK News)

Travel experts say be prepared for anything this holiday season.

Weather happens and this year, coupled with staffing shortages, it can affect travel time.

Getting to Southwest Florida International Airport, known as RSW, two hours before your scheduled fight can help address any issues quickly.

But others like Nancy Menzel, a snowbird, is hoping to do away with the RSW rush by heading to Minnesota for the rest of the year.

“I’ve done it so many times. I think I know how to do it,” Menzel said.

Nerdwallet’s travel expert Sara Rathner said everyone needs to expect the unexpected when traveling this year.

Their holiday travel story found that 43% of Americans plan to pay for hotel stays and airfare this year.

In 2019, before the pandemic, it was 45%.

“Expect traffic, expect long lines, expect crowds and expect stress. Give yourself a lot of extra time to get to where you have to go,” Rathner said.

With potential winter weather, airline staffing shortages and TSA, you may not make it to your destination when you want to or at all.

We’ve already seen that this year with airlines canceling and delaying thousands of flights.

What should you do if that happens to you?

Rathner said to get a customer service airline representative on the phone as soon as possible.

“if you’re already at the airport, you just found out your flights getting canceled or delayed, multitask,” Rathner said. “Look on the app for alternate bookings, get on hold with a customer service agent. And while you’re on hold on the phone, stand in line to talk to a gate agent, try as many things at the same time as you can do to get to a human being and get your problem resolved.”

If the problem isn’t resolved, the airline is required to rebook or refund you.

“It’s not great,” Rathner said. “It’s not ideal, but it is technically airlines adhering to what they owe passengers.”

Once you’re on the plane, it can’t just sit on the tarmac for more than three hours unless there is a safety or security issue or taxiing to the gate would significantly mess up airport operations.

Check your luggage before you leave the airport.

If your checked bag is damaged during travel, the airline will pay for repairs or will reimburse you its depreciated value if it can’t be fixed.

If your suitcase comes a few days after you, the airline help you with reasonable expenses while it’s gone.

And if it never comes, submit a claim.

You can work with an airline to determine how much everything is worth for a refund.

Look into the airline’s policy to see what’s already built into your reservation.

If you used a travel rewards credit card to buy your ticket, you may already have travel protections.

And the U.S. Department of Transportation already has all of your fly rights listed on their website.

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