The best hacks for the travel apocalypse

Airport workers stand next to a passenger baggage line arranged outside Terminal 2 of Heathrow Airport in London, Britain, June 19, 2022. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

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NEW YORK, Aug 9 (Reuters) – Planning to squeeze some travel into the rest of the summer? Good luck – you need it.

The number of flight cancellations is already up from last year’s total. The delays affected 890,000 flights in the first half of the year. Prices have soared as pandemic-weary travelers are desperate for somewhere to go. Luggage ‘graveyards’ are piling up at airports around the world and missed connections are on the rise.

Welcome to the travel apocalypse.

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“It’s definitely the worst I’ve ever seen,” said Meena Thiruvengadam, founder and editor-in-chief of the site Travel With Meena (travelwithmeena.com). “Now is definitely the time to be more strategic.”

To help you navigate travel hell, we canvassed top experts for tips on discounts and how to avoid potential pitfalls.

Use the right credit card

Are you trying to get airline compensation for delays and cancellations? If you succeed, you can freeze after a long battle.

“My best hack for navigating the travel apocalypse is to book travel on a credit card that offers travel coverage,” said Brian Kelly, founder of popular travel site The Points Guy.

“When airlines go bust, it’s much easier to get compensation from your credit card than from an understaffed airline.”

Go to CARRY-ON

Reduce the chances of things going wrong – and save money – by limiting yourself to carry-on. Checking a bag increases the chances of your luggage being lost, delayed, or stolen or damaged.

The first checked bag usually costs about $30, and the second $40 at most carriers. The benefit of ‘free’ checked bags increases airfares.

“Travel Lite makes it easy if you have to rebook flights for any reason and gives you a lot of flexibility,” said Thiruvengadam. “It will also reduce the chances of your bag getting lost or getting stuck in one of the many airport piles around the world.”

Consider cruising

Cruises offer tempting deals as virus-phobic travelers avoid large groups in confined spaces.

According to the site Cruise Critic, the average starting cost per person in August is $108/night for the Caribbean, $56/night for the Mexican Riviera, and $125/night for the Mediterranean—well below the lowest starting fares.

“There are a lot of deals to be had right now because people are still a little nervous about cruising,” said Laura Begley Bloom, a travel expert and content strategist.

“One of the best-value cruise lines is MSC, an Italian-owned line. Check out these rates: $498 per person for a seven-night cruise from Miami to the Caribbean. That comes to $71 a night—and includes all your meals. “

Think twice when booking online

Most people book trips online, making some “classic mistakes,” said CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg.

The first is that the algorithm can show you a flight connection time of more than half an hour – because the computer doesn’t know better and everything goes smoothly and on time (highly unlikely).

“It’s not just funny; it’s suicidal,” Greenberg said.

The second mistake is thinking that Expedia, Travelocity or any other site shows all available options.

“You may have to do the unthinkable and actually communicate with someone, either the travel agent or the airlines themselves,” Greenberg said.

“Because what they’re seeing on their screen is not what you’re seeing on your screen. If you’re only seeing yourself online, you’re doing yourself a disservice.”

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Editing by Lauren Young and Richard Chang Follow us @ReutersMoney

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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