Scott McCartney of the Wall Street Journal recently wrote a very informative article (available without a subscription here via MSN.com) on how bad American Airlines’s on-time performance has been this summer as the airline navigates a huge showdown with its mechanics union. The story opens, for example, with this anecdote: “A federal judge ordered lawyers for American Airlines and its mechanics union to meet in person over an alleged work slowdown, but American’s top two attorneys didn’t show. Their flights got canceled.”
On the abundance of travel disruptions the situation has yielded, Scott writes that “in June, American canceled about 4% of its schedule, or more than 7,500 domestic and international flights, according to masFlight,” a cancellation rate about 18 times higher than Delta’s over the same period. The article is worth a read in its entirety, just as this video of union president John Samuelsen threatening AA President Robert Isom is worth watching. In the meantime, here are some of Scott’s spot-on tips to help lessen your chances of experiencing travel disruptions this summer, no matter whether you’re flying American Airlines or another airline:
- “Fly early in the day. Thunderstorms are the big threat to summer travel, and they fire up with afternoon heat.
- Give yourself extra time. Can’t miss a meeting on Monday? Fly in Saturday. Cruise sailing, wedding—whatever the occasion, give yourself extra time.
- If making a connection, be prepared to get stuck. Have phone numbers for airport-area hotels. It’s better to call the hotel directly when scrambling for accommodations.
- Don’t book a connection unless you absolutely have to.
- Even if the airline blames weather and won’t pay, ask about hotel vouchers. Airlines book blocks of rooms at nearby hotels and sometimes offer customers discount coupons.
- Keep medicine, phone chargers, other necessities and a change of clothes in a carry-on bag. If you get stranded or rerouted, you may not see your checked luggage for days.
- Don’t send unaccompanied children on connecting itineraries. With so much disruption, it’s best to avoid placing responsibility for children on airline staff.
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