|by Sean O'Neill||Airlines||15|
The number of flights canceled in the first 15 days of June was up a whopping 91 percent compared with the same period last year, according to this article in the Wall Street Journal. Airline delays were also widespread. Roughly one out of three U.S. flights failed to arrive on time from June 1 through June 15. Passengers on Northwest and United have been particularly hard hit by both cancellations and delays.
To cope with summer air travel, consider these tips from Budget Travel's editors:
Wield your cell phone like you're Jerry Macguire. If you're at the airport when your flight is canceled, call the airline's 800 number while you're walking to the airline counter (and stay on while in line); this increases your chance of getting on the next flight. To be prepared, print out this wallet card with a list of airline 800-numbers.
Get confirmation numbers. If you're not planning on rebooking yourself onto a later flight, then get a confirmation number, or, even better, a confirmation email. If you don't have proof in writing, you're facing an uphill battle if the charge eventually shows up on your credit card bill.
Sign up for alerts from your airline. If your airline won't send text messages to your phone, then you can always use Google. Just send a text message to "Google" (466453) from your cell phone and you can get all kinds of info. For flight arrival/departure info, type the flight number; for example, for Delta Flight 395, type DL395--the code you'll find on your boarding pass. If you have access to a Web browser, you can access FlightStats.com.
Be wary of tight connections. If your itinerary requires you to change planes, you face a risk that you may not make your onward connection if your first flight is delayed. Budget-conscious travelers often face this problem for a simple reason: Some online travel websites sell discounted tickets with layovers that require you to make unreasonably tight connections (or implausibly quick transits through airports). Be attentive to the layover time between flights and consider paying a little more to book an itinerary with additional time to make any connections.