Major Airlines Cutting Flight Routes This Summer: What To Do If Your Flight Gets Canceled

Major Airlines Cutting Flight Routes This Summer: What To Do If Your Flight Gets Canceled

With large-scale flight delays and cancellations caused by rising fuel prices and worker shortages, here's what to do if your flight gets canceled.
passenger waiting in boarding area

With more people planning to fly this summer than they have over the past two years, staffing shortages and rising fuel prices resulting from inflation may throw a wrench in many Americans' summer plans.

For a number of pandemic-related reasons, many airlines are now finding themselves without a sufficient number of workers to carry out business as usual. This surplus in demand and lack of personnel, coupled with a drastic rise in fuel costs has started to overwhelm some of the major U.S. airlines, forcing them to cut summer flight routes in order to regain control over their operations.

Which airlines are affected?

Major U.S. air carriers including JetBlue, Spirit, Southwest, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines and others are planning to scale back their summer flight schedules this season in an effort to alleviate the challenges still facing the travel industry.

Here is a breakdown of announcements made by some of the top U.S. airlines:

  • JetBlue has announced it is cutting or suspending 27 routes starting this summer. The airline plans to cancel 8% to 10% of flights starting in May.
  • Alaska Airlines plans to reduce around 2% of its total flights through the end of June to match its current pilot capacity.
  • Spirit Airlines plans to reduce its flight schedule by 5% to 6% in June after making smaller changes in April and May. This reduced schedule will continue through August.
  • Southwest Airlines has cut around 325 flights per day from April 3 to June 4.
  • American Airlines announced it is cutting several long haul routes this summer due to Boeing 787 delivery delays.

Will your flight be impacted by these delays and cancellations?

With so many airlines making changes to their summer schedules, it's certainly possible a flight or two of yours could get caught in the crossfire. Luckily, there are some preventative measures you can take to help avoid flight cancellations, including actions like making flexible travel plans, sticking with direct flights and reviewing which airlines are cutting which particular routes before booking your trip.

What to do if your flight gets canceled

Quickly try to get on another flight, possibly even with another airline

If your flight gets canceled, it's best to act fast. Head over to your airline's customer service desk to speak with a service representative right away. While you're waiting, look up other available flights, including those with other airlines, to see what your options are. In some cases, your customer service representative may be able to rebook you for free with another airline, especially if they are in the same airline alliance.

No matter what happens, make sure to save your receipts, boarding passes and all original documents that include your flight ticket number and passenger reference number, as these may come in handy.

Use the travel perks included with your credit card

We always recommend choosing a credit card that comes with top travel perks, and in situations like these it's easy to see why. Some premium travel credit cards come with airport lounge access, which will offer you a comfortable place to go while you figure out your next move or wait for your next flight. Airport lounges typically include things like food, drinks, free Wi-Fi and other amenities that can make your situation more bearable.

Many rewards credit cards also include travel insurance, which may help reimburse you for incurred trip costs.

Check if you’re eligible for a travel credit or voucher from the canceled flight

Once your immediate travel needs are met and you're rebooked onto another flight, check with the airline that had your original reservation about a flight credit or voucher from the canceled flight to redeem at a later time. If the airline grants you a voucher, keep it in a safe place (or make sure you know how to access it virtually), so you don't lose out on what you've already paid for your ticket.

Steps to take ahead of your trip

Choose a credit card with travel insurance

The best thing you can do for yourself if you're planning air travel this summer is to make sure you're covered by travel insurance. As mentioned previously, many rewards credit cards come with varying degrees of travel insurance built in which can give you peace of mind and provide financial, medical and legal assistance should you need it. The Chase Sapphire Reserve card and The Platinum Card from American Express, in particular, both offer some of the best credit card travel coverages available.

Note that in order to claim insurance from your card you'll typically need to pay for your entire trip (or at least some of your trip) with that specific credit card to be covered. This way you can be reimbursed for a canceled flight, baggage loss or delays or covered costs if you have to spend the night near the airport, for example.

Make flexible travel plans to account for delays or cancellations

Try to avoid booking yourself on connecting flights with tight schedules and opt for carry-on luggage rather than checked bags when possible to help maintain flexibility, should there be an unexpected cancellation or delay.

Recognize the signs that your flight might get canceled and be prepared to make alternate plans. If your flight has been delayed multiple times, there's a good chance it may be canceled altogether. Be sure to sign up for alerts from your airline to keep a close eye on your flight.

Opt for direct flights with bigger airports

According to a survey by ValuePenguin, larger airports tend to be more reliable than smaller ones. Booking direct flights into bigger airports when possible will help to lessen your chances of being impacted by flight delays and cancellations.

Be sure to tag your luggage

Tagging every piece of luggage with your personal information is an essential preventative step whenever you travel. Make sure each of your bags have a luggage tag with your name, phone number, home address and email address printed clearly. This helps ensure that they'll be returned to you safely in case your flight is delayed or canceled.

Review your airline's flight cancellation and compensation policy before you book

It's prudent to review your airline's cancellation and compensation policy before booking your trip. If it seems the risk of cancellation without sufficient reconciliation is too high, you may want to consider flying with another airline or purchasing additional travel insurance instead.