Summer travel chaos continues as upwards of 11 million Americans are expected to hit the sky this July 4th holiday from Friday to Monday. That’s the same 2019 passenger volume at a time when airlines are struggling with basic operational logistics.
No matter which airline you book, expect trouble and plan ahead with tools to help if your flight gets delayed or canceled.
There’s a reason geeks often find another flight in a pinch while most others are still stuck on the ground. It comes down to the right travel tools on your phone and knowing how to use them.
Canceled flight? These tools can help get you on the next flight while others wait in line going nowhere.
4 Essential Travel Tools
Flight Board app
Flight board app helps you track delayed and canceled flights. Most valuable is how it shows which flights are still operating when yours gets delayed or canceled.
This helps you understand which other flights are operating to get you to your destination. Remember to screenshot a photo of the flights available for the moment you are negotiating a recovery flight. Click to get Flight Board app for iOS and Android.
ExpertFlyer site shows vast flight inventory that airlines hide from you. Frequent fliers use this as an essential must-have subscription that reveals far more than any airline wants you to know. Fact is, this tool alone can help you steer an airline representative toward available flights they may not even see.
I especially love a feature that allows you to click for additional flight status information that reveals a log of each flight. On one occasion, I was told by a gate agent after a flight was canceled that it was weather-related and she could not help.
Expert Flyer then allowed me to show the true data showing the flight was canceled for “operational” reasons with no mention of weather. Yes, I got a hotel voucher that paid for the night until my recovery flight took off first thing in the morning.
ExpertFlyer has a free seat alert function, but the real full working version is a paid monthly or annual subscription which for me pays for itself in spades. When it comes to free apps and services online of any worth, if you are getting a valuable product for free, then you are the product. ExpertFlyer is found here.
Get a quick recap about their services in the video below.
LiveATC Air Traffic Control radio app
LiveATC app started as a fun way to hear air traffic control talking to the flight deck. Today, this can be one of the most essential recovery tools when delays start targeting your journey.
Find your city, then choose the airport and the ground channel for your departure. You will often hear exactly why your flight is delayed. And in some circumstances, you will hear the flight being canceled before it is announced to the cabin or flashes on the airline app.
The advantage of spotting trouble ahead of the masses can help you get into the next few seats still available on the following flights to get you to your destination. LiveATC is here.
ITA Matrix flight search
ITA Matrix site shows all available flights for sale on all airlines at that moment. You cannot buy a ticket here, just get informed. Best bet is to buy an airline ticket directly from the airline you plan to travel. What works great here is this will show you flights available to your destination for sale available in real-time.
It shows other airlines which could be a better flight recovery option if your flight gets scrapped. Airlines would rather accommodate you on a later flight on the same company aircraft to save money. Fact is, you can often nudge your way into an airline confirming travel on a competitor in order to resolve a failure that sits on their shoulders. Search flights on ITA Matrix here.
Pro Flight Tips
- Book ticket on big planes when available. Flying larger aircraft that become planes used on international routes are seldom canceled.
- Airline lounges offer better rebooking help. (buy a day pass if you cannot get through to an agent or reticket online with the airline’s app)
- Avoid checking bags to give yourself the most flexibility. If you find a flight on another airline to get you where you want to go, airlines won’t always transfer checked luggage to other carriers.
- Listen to LiveATC app control tower for your airport during a delay to hear how your flight is being handled by ground air traffic controllers. You will know to rebook before anyone else.
Have you tried any of these tools? Let us know if you were successful in the comments below.
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