If you have a flight reservation or expect to book a flight with troubled American Airlines, you should plan ahead to avoid turbulence before your departure.
Flight delays and cancellations that are the result of a contract dispute with American Airlines pilots could continue through October, experts say.
American Airlines says its pilots have called in sick and reported excessive maintenance work in an attempt to force the airline to cancel or delay flights. As a result of the pilots’ contract issues, American Airlines said it will reduce the number of flights by 2 percent through October 2012. American Airlines wouldn’t provide information on the number of flights that were scheduled for October.
If you have an American Airlines reservation, the best way for you to prepare for a possible delay or cancellation is to arrive at the airport at least 3 hours before your scheduled departure, says George Hobica of Airfarewatchdog, which is a website that monitors airfares. By arriving early, you increase the likelihood that you can get on another flight quickly if your original flight is delayed or canceled.
For example, if your 5 p.m. flight is canceled at 2 p.m., you still have time to request a standby reservation for a flight that leaves at, say, 3 p.m. if you arrive early, Hobica says.
The pilot-contract issues likely will be resolved before the holiday travel season, Hobica says, so he believes that it’s safe for consumers to book American Airlines flights for late 2012. He also believes that American Airlines might begin fare sales or offer frequent-flier bonus points in fall 2012 to maintain customer satisfaction.
However, consumers who aren’t convinced that the flight woes will end but still prefer to book an American Airlines flight for holiday travel can take steps to reduce the likelihood that they will face the consequences of delays or cancellations, experts say.
For instance, you should book the earliest American Airline flight that’s available on a given day, because it’s the flight that’s most likely to leave on time, says aviation analyst Henry Harteveldt of airline-research company Atmosphere Research Group. He also says booking a nonstop flight eliminates the possibility that you will encounter a delayed connecting flight.
Harteveldt also recommends that travelers book a flight directly through American Airlines instead of booking through an online travel agency. He says that if a flight is delayed, it’s possible that the airline might refer you to the agency that booked the flight. If you book through American Airlines, it guarantees that you will deal with the airline directly.
– K. Fanuko