PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – While Spirit Airlines has been getting the headlines this week as it stranded passengers at airports all over the country it is far from alone.
The airline industry as a whole has been experiencing issues with staffing and canceled flights.READ MORE: Mustafa Alowemer, North Side Church Bomb Plot Suspect, Pleads Guilty To Aiding ISIS In Federal Court
CBS News Travel Expert Peter Greenberg says the horizon is overcast.
“For the next 30 days, fasten your seat belt because you have a perfect storm between staffing issues, the fuel prices, scheduling, and of course weather,” Greenberg says.
Greenberg also says the airlines may be overplaying the weather card. He cites as an example American’s cancellation of 270 flights one day earlier this week.
“120 of those 270 flights, they couldn’t field the crew,” he says.
Greenburg explains the airlines furloughed pilots and flight attendants during the pandemic and, “they didn’t bring it back fast enough, they didn’t anticipate the return to travel being as fast as it was.”
To meet the traveling public’s demand for travel the airlines added flights and he says they didn’t have the crews to staff them.
“That’s going to continue through this month, whether they like it or not, it’s only going to start stabilizing around the 15th of September when kids go back to school and the airlines start reducing their flights or their frequencies, or both,” Greenberg explains.
In the meantime, passengers face cancellations and traveling limbo.
Greenberg says the problem is when your flight is canceled.
“With all the flights full, there are no available flights,” he says.
So to protect your trip this travel expert says, “If you’re going to book a flight, try to make it the first flight of the day because there’s a very good chance that plane the actual physical aircraft as overnighted the night before, as well as the crew.”
Plus if it gets canceled, it gives you the rest of the flights later that day to find a seat.
Watch out for connection times if you are going to switch planes in the middle of your trip.
“What the airlines will tell you is a legal connect time is not just legal it’s ludicrous and suicidal. It’s 30 minutes. I’ve seen 31 minutes legal connect times in Dallas, in Miami, you couldn’t even be an Olympic sprinter and win that race, even if the plane was on time,” Greenberg says.
Greenberg says even if it costs a bit more go for a 90 minute connection time.READ MORE: SWAT Situation In Washington County Ends In Arrest Of Man Wanted For Attempted Homicide
“Because if your first flight is late, they can’t put you on the next available flight because it’s already full,” he says. “If you have that buffer zone, you got a chance.”
WATCH: Protecting Yourself Against Cancelled Flights
If you get an email in advance of your flight canceling your flights and rescheduling your ticket to other flights, times, or days Greenberg says that’s an airline technique.
“That’s the way they fill the planes, that doesn’t benefit you in any way shape, or form,” he says.
Greenberg says hear this loud and clear!
“They’ve effectively canceled your outbound flight, you’re now entitled to a full refund for whatever you paid, even if it was a nonrefundable ticket, not a voucher, not a credit you get your money back,” he warns.
If you choose not to accept the rescheduling, Greenberg says demand drives pricing, and once the leisure travel slows next month and business travel picks up look for some fare changes.
“If they have a high fare there in the system now, and nobody’s showing up, it’s going to come down,” Greenberg says.
He advises if your travel is for some time this fall hold off a month to a month and a half to book the trip.
However, if you are planning to travel over the Thanksgiving or Christmas holidays, “Do not wait, do not pass go, do not collect $200, book it now.”
Anyone who has gotten on the phone to try and straighten out an airline issue recently has probably had the long wait of on-hold experience.
In some cases, it can be hours.
Greenberg says you are better off using a travel agent or a booking agent.
“They can advocate for you, and not only that, they have preferred supplier relationships, what they’re looking at on their computer screens, I guarantee you, is not what you’re looking at on yours, they have the options that you don’t have, they have the phone connections directly to the salespeople at the airlines that you don’t have,” he explains. “Those 800 numbers are not your friends, but they can get you that information.”
In most cases, the agents won’t charge you, but even if they do Greenberg says, “If there’s a travel agent out there that wants to charge me a $25 ticket processing fee to get me from waiting on the phone for three hours, how fast can I give them that money?”MORE NEWS: Clairton City School District Not Allowing Fans At Friday's Football Game Against Leechburg
But again Greenberg believes by the time we get to October the air traveling world should be getting back closer to normal.