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The Fourth of July Flightmare: Lessons Learned and Future Solutions for Travelers

Let's Recap...

The Fourth of July holidays did not pan out as the much-coveted holiday for many.

More than 2,000 flights across the country were hit by delays on the 3rd, and 118 flights had been cancelled by 3.30 pm ET (source: FlightAware).

Airplanes aplenty, but no crew to fly them, bad weather, and other operational issues were blamed for this ‘flightmare’.

United Airlines passengers suffered the most cancellations, leaving them stranded in airports and standing in long lines to rebook flights, with some saying they were forced to wait several days to get back their checked bags.

While Twitter was full of furious passengers complaining about United’s ‘criminally bad’ customer service, here’s what the airline decided to do to ease the sting of these severe cases of disrupted travel.

In an attempt to convince travelers to stay loyal to the company after a week of cancellation chaos, United decided to offer 30,000 MileagePlus miles to each passenger. This applied to all those passengers who were worst affected by these unfortunate events.

So What Can We Learn From This?

While the travel disruptions blew several fuses, they did provide, in retrospect, valuable insights for passengers who want to avoid or minimize future travel chaos. Some important lessons to consider are:

1. Stay informed: Monitor flight statuses and check for updates regularly through airline apps or online platforms. Being aware of any potential issues beforehand can help you prepare and react promptly.
2. Flexible travel arrangements: Opt for flexible tickets or travel insurance that covers trip cancellations and disruptions. This provides financial protection in case of unexpected events.
Explore alternative routes: While it’s not always feasible, it is useful to consider alternative flight routes, connecting flights, or even other nearby airports. Being open to alternative options can increase your chances of reaching your destination on time (or at all in this case).

Future-Proofing Your Travel Plans

Travel is always so unpredictable, especially during the holiday season. To have a more seamless travel experience and reduce the effects of possible delays, it’s important to keep in mind the following:

  1. Loyalty programs and credit cards: Join airline loyalty programs and consider credit cards that offer travel benefits and protections. These programs and cards often provide perks such as priority rebooking, access to airport lounges, and compensation for trip interruptions.
  2. Arrive Early: Getting to the airport early not only helps you have a more relaxed security check experience but also allows you to stay informed about any flight updates ahead of time. This enables you to be one of the first few passengers to secure a re-booking on a different flight in the event of delays or cancellations.
  3. Invest in a personal tracking device: In situations where your checked bags are nowhere to be found, these devices come in super handy. Get yourselves the Apple Air Tags or Tile trackers to keep an eye on your bags.
  4. Leverage technology and apps: Utilize travel apps and tools that provide real-time flight updates, alternative flight options, and rebooking assistance. These resources can help you navigate disruptions efficiently and stay informed throughout your journey.

Where Can I Travel With 30,000 United Miles?

Now that you have an idea of how to travel without stress on your next trip, let’s get to a more realistic discussion. What on earth do I use these 30,000 miles for?

Although United lists a bunch of things you can do with your miles including in-flight snacks, magazine subscriptions, hotel bookings, and more, the most lucrative way to get the most out of your miles will be to book your next award travel on United.

So here’s a sample itinerary to fly coast-to-coast, non-stop, for your next trip — a chance to make good use of those FREE MileagePlus miles.

From: Newark (EWR)
To: San Fransisco (SFO)
Points Needed: 30,000 (Plus $5.60 tax) for one adult
Class: Premium Economy

Final Thoughts

The holiday flight disruptions served as a reminder that travel plans can be vulnerable to unforeseen challenges. Remember, while no travel plan is entirely immune to uncertainties, taking proactive steps can help ensure a smoother journey and minimize the stress of out-of-the-blue events.

If you enjoyed this post, you would enjoy The Hub ‘N Wifi Newsletter — a Friday newsletter, aimed at making you a 1% smarter traveler.

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