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ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

According to a Fraud Attack Index issued by Forter this past March, fraud attack rates tied to the airline industry went down a significant 29 percent during 2018.

As reported by TravelPulse, Forter describes the significant drop as an anomaly, due to the likelihood that criminal hackers may be holding onto vast quantities of stolen data for future use.

Photo by BiljaST

“It’s common for a very big breach to take several years for people to start using it,” Michael Reitblat, CEO and co-founder of Forter. “When eBay and LinkedIn were breached it took three to four years.”

Kevin Gosschalk, CEO of Arkose Labs

ExpertFlyer interviewed Kevin Gosschalk, CEO of Arkose Labs, a San Francisco-based cybersecurity company, to learn more about the prevalence of these online ticketing schemes, as well as loyalty fraud, and how it impacts travelers.

How prevalent are these online ticketing bot attacks and have there been instances of this in the US? 

As online ticket booking has moved to the digital channel, so has fraud. One of the key areas of attack growth is coming from the automated ticketing bots that target airlines across the globe, including those in the US every day. Ranging from consumer account takeover attacks focusing on loyalty fraud to seat holding attacks on airlines. Loyalty fraud is a major target because the airline points are liquid. Most consumers today, especially avid travelers, have more liquid cash sitting in their airline loyalty account than they do in their everyday checking account. This makes loyalty fraud popular among cyber criminals because fraudsters can easily compromise accumulated loyalty points or airline miles with stolen credentials in an account takeover attack.

The specific seat holding attacks are a known issue but less frequently discussed in the US market as we have less low budget airlines (where this attack is more effective) than other regions, such as in Asia.

What is the estimated impact on consumers due to hacks, such as this?

These attacks are essentially ways in which fraudsters try to monetize their operations and while they can take on multiple flavors, the ultimate victim is the consumer.  With each successful attack, the consumers either face a significantly increased cost per ticket or lose their valuable earned loyalty points to someone who took over their accounts. If the inventory you are looking to buy is being reserved and held by attacks, this has the unfortunate side effect of triggering cost increases on the remaining seats, as well as exhausting inventory on cheaper airlines. This forces consumers to look at or purchase from more expensive alternatives.

Is the main objective of these attacks to steer travelers to others website?

This is the primary goal and how they extract their revenue from the attack. By forcing consumers to spend more at alternative websites they can extract a larger cut of shares.

Who is behind these schemes?

The unfortunate reality with advanced online attacks is that hackers and fraudsters can hide their identities very easily. The attacks appear to come from regions local to the websites and try to mimic genuine traffic, however, all of this can be easily faked by fraudsters to disguise their identity using sophisticated tools.

With the ultimate goal being monetization, it is logical to conclude (an opinion shared by our customers in this segment) that those who stand to profit from making these attacks are the ones driving them.

These could range from a competitor trying to steer traffic to another portal (to sell the customer alternative tickets), to someone trying to create artificial scarcity to a group seeking good old notoriety.

How does Arkose Labs succeed in keeping ahead of sophisticated cybercriminals and are there any threats to consumers opting to book flights online?

In a quickly evolving fraud and risk landscape, fraudsters are in the business of monetizing these attacks and will continue to find new ways to attack and new loopholes to exploit. Arkose Labs is addressing this issue at the most fundamental level by focusing on making the attacks uneconomical – we build defenses that add significant costs to attack our customers, including the airlines we work with. The technology is designed in a way where it is far cheaper for us to keep ahead by significantly increasing costs to fraudsters.

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ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

A new poll, commissioned by NEC Corporation of America (NEC), a leading provider of biometric and artificial intelligence solutions, shows frequent flyers are embracing the use of facial recognition technology to improve security and reduce time spent waiting in lines.

Business Traveler reports, according to the survey, that 75 percent of frequent flyers said they would favor the use of facial recognition to identify both foreign and domestic travelers. Nearly 87 percent said they would approve of the use of facial recognition to identify criminals and terrorists and protect the air travel system. In addition, passengers cited security and check-in lines as their top annoyances. More than 71 percent were willing to pay a $10 fee to bypass lines, while nearly 22 percent would embarrass themselves by singing a song to the security agent if it meant they could proceed more quickly.

Frequent air travelers said they would like to see facial recognition improve the following aspects of their travel journey:

• 59.5% Booking a ticket
• 56.04% Renting a car
• 52.18% Checking into a hotel
• 46.63% Customized signage in the airport
• 21.39% Make a purchase in the airport
• 8.91% Customized “outdoor ads”

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Photo: Heather Poole (cc)

While schools are closed and many businesses pull back on the pressure, the summertime chill factor takes over most Americans as they enjoy time off and relax. But travelers and the industry at large are anything but relaxed. Despite being one of the greatest pleasures and educational opportunities in life, travel can also raise stress levels for families, particularly during the peak summer season.

Forbes reports that this summer U.S. airlines are anticipating a record 257.4 million people will be flying between June 1 and August 31, up 3.4% compared to a year ago. “And it means there’ll be an average of about 2.8 million people flying per day during the summer. That’s about 93,000 more per day, on average, over the summer of 2018.”

In addition to compiling a punch list of sanity-saving summer travel tips, ExpertFlyer connected with Rainer Jenss, founder and president of the Family Travel Association, to get some specific advice for anxious family travelers who are overwhelmed by the prospect of identifying affordable and mutually enjoyable vacation options for the entire family.

LISTEN to our podcast interview with Rainer Jenss, president, Family Travel Association.

Sanity Saving Summer Travel Tips for Families - YouTube

“A really important detail in planning your vacation destination is to get buy-in from the kids, particularly teenagers, by getting them involved in the planning. When a parent dictates where the family is going on vacation, oftentimes the kids don’t like the choice. They don’t feel vested in the decision and feel like they’re being dragged along. If you get kids involved at the outset in identifying the activities that they wish to experience, they will be much more engaged and interested in the destination.”

– Rainer Jenns

ExpertFlyer: What are some of the unique challenges for traveling families?

Rainer Jenss: By far, the biggest challenge that parents have when planning a family trip are the economics. Is it affordable? Depending on your family size, the larger the more expensive, particularly when it comes to air travel. Thankfully, there are lots of ways that you can save money, particularly with the proliferation of vacation rentals.

Airbnb, Home-Away and others, are great and much cheaper alternatives to traditional hotels and resorts. There’s so much more product out there for families. We worry that some of them don’t even start the process of planning their trip because they think it’s going to be too expensive. When, in fact, if they do some research, they’re likely to find that it’s much more affordable than they think.

ExpertFlyer: How do families initiate their search for summer vacation options that offer good value?

Rainer Jenss: The first thing that I would highly encourage any traveler, but particularly families, to consider is, don’t start with a destination. In other words, don’t declare, oh okay, we’re going to go to Florida or we’re going to go to California or Arizona or Mexico or the Caribbean or wherever it might be. Instead, start with what you want to do. Again, whether that’s a beach vacation or something more adventurous that involves hiking, white-water rafting or whatever those activities might be.

Or if you just want to visit a city. I mean there are, depending on the age of the children, that’s an option. Look, dude ranches are a terrific option and not a lot of families and parents consider.

Start with the type of experience that you want to have and that way you have a much broader perspective of the places you can go to. For example, Florida this time of year is pretty inexpensive. Whereas US destinations, like California or Alaska, are much more popular with summer travelers, and specifically families, so costs will be higher.

Don’t limit yourself to the destination, start by going with the activity. Because when you pick a destination first, you’re limited in terms of your accommodations.

What does that mean? If you decide, okay we want to do a beach holiday and my family and I, we planned a trip to Hawaii earlier in the spring, but we started the process by determining that we wanted to go somewhere warm as a graduation gift to my son and we found a fantastic Home-Away vacation rental.

More and more of these vacation rental options are popping up and they provide families with all the resources they need in terms of cooking and eating at home, which is much less expensive and certainly, in some cases more convenient than eating in restaurants.

There’s really a host of things, but start with the activity and that way you have a much broader plate in which to narrow down your choices.

ExpertFlyer: Another tip for traveling abroad, for example, is to use a resource like Skyscanner or Google Flights, but leave the destination field blank and just enter the travel dates. A map will appear with little price notations over various countries, which could lead to an interesting destination selection based upon cost-savings and an unexpected travel experience to a destination that hadn’t been considered.

Rainer Jenss: Yes. That’s an interesting way to unearth really unexpected and unique opportunities where you say, oh I didn’t think of that. That’s wonderful! Great advice.

Another effective tip is to get your kids involved in the trip planning, particularly teenagers. That’s really, really important. When a parent dictates where a family is going to go for vacation, oftentimes the kids don’t like the choice — they don’t feel vested in the decision and they feel like they’re being dragged along. . If you get kids involved at the outset in identifying the activities that they wish to experience, they will be much more engaged and interested in the destination.

ExpertFlyer: Do you have any specific tips about flying and maybe some of the issues that affect parents traveling via airline?

Rainer Jenss: Here’s one thing when it comes to airline travel that I think is very important to note, and that is this issue of guaranteed seating together. Many airlines, particularly when you book online, don’t necessarily have, let’s say, four seats together to accommodate a typical family. So, you end up getting two aisles, two middle seats, maybe two windows. In other words, they’re not all together and there’s a false sense of security, which airlines perpetuate, that somehow it’ll all work out when you get to the gate, and they’ll switch the seats. If they don’t do it there, then they’re going to get some kind passengers who are willing to cooperate and switch seats. That doesn’t always happen and we get lots of emails and complaints from people who have been caught in this very unfortunate scenario, where they have no choice but to be separated from their children. Some, I’ve heard, as young as four years old, one even had autism.

The airlines are really not responsible. We tried to work with, and in fact, we did work with legislators in Washington to try to pass a family flying together act, part of an FAA reappropriation bill, which unfortunately didn’t work.

But it’s preventable. In other words, yes, even though it’s not fair, you might have to pay the premium to have all four seats together. But a way to even avoid that is to ensure that you book early, because most of those seats that are usually in the back of the plane and without the premium are open and available, a good three to six months before flying.

ExpertFlyer: Does using a travel agent help in securing seats together?

Rainer Jenss: Yes. An even better strategy is to plan your trip in advance and also work with a travel agent. Travel agents may not be able to guarantee you seats together, but they do have relationships with airlines and they have definite partnerships and relationships with resorts and hotels, and in some cases these vacation rentals and cruise lines and a whole host of vacation options. Because a lot of consumers and a lot of parents think there’s a premium or it’s more expensive to use travel professionals like this, when in fact, they’re not more expensive as a whole and they can provide upgrades and services that you couldn’t get as a “regular consumer” who’s booking everything on their own.

ExpertFlyer: Off-peak travel offers significant cost-savings and thins out the crowds, which makes for an appealing travel option, but what about the kids in school?

Rainer Jenss: if you have children that are not in school, and even if they’re in grammar school, which would perhaps even include middle school, you don’t have to travel only in the summer, particularly for those that are preschoolers. As we’ve already discussed, it’s the busiest time of year and the most expensive. If you have preschoolers, just go in September or October. Go in April or May. That’s when you’re going to get real cost savings.

We, (the FTA) encourage parents to take their children out of school for a short period to either extend a vacation or to plan one altogether. Travel, quite frankly, is the best education a child could have and that includes Disney and cruise lines, which are largely entertainment based, but children learn a lot from being outside their typical environment. Summertime is busy, we should all be getting away for sure, but again, it’s okay to consider those non-peak times, particularly when the children are younger.

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ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

Summer is officially underway and with it comes vacations to beach resorts, weekends in the mountains, and flights to distant destinations for once-in-a-lifetime dream vacations with the family. But with all the excitement and anticipation comes anxiety and stress. Booking the flights (refundable or non-refundable), managing flight delays and cancellations, downloading the right travel apps for your trip, and even anguishing over what to pack, can all be managed (and conquered) with proper planning.

Step one. Take a deep breath. This is your vacation. You know, the thing you do to get away from life’s everyday stresses. Planning a family vacation this summer should not add to your stress levels.

Chris Lopinto, co-founder, ExpertFlyer

Chris Lopinto, president of ExpertFlyer.com and travel industry expert, offers the following tips for families organizing vacations this year.

Save on Airfare

1) Find the Hidden Discount Fares
Every airline offers several different ticket prices called Fare Buckets. Even if you search for the “lowest fare,” the number of seats you want to buy may prevent you from actually securing the lowest fare.

One way to know if you are getting the lowest fare available, conduct a “lowest fare” search for the total number of tickets you want to purchase (in this example, you are looking to purchase four airline tickets). Then, conduct a new search for only one seat. If the price is less, you now know that at least one ticket (but less than four) is available at a lower fare than you were originally quoted for four seats. Book separately and save (this will not impact the ability to find seats together on the flight).

2) Using Points? Set an Alert, Save Hundreds
Even the most seasoned traveler will tell you it has become increasingly difficult to find flights using accumulated frequent flyer points from credit cards and actual travel. ExpertFlyer, an online air travel information website, offers Flight Alerts, which automatically monitors the availability of award tickets and upgrades and notifies you when it finds what you want.

The feature is included with an annual subscription of $99 to ExpertFlyer (other plans available) and can save hundreds, even thousands of dollars on flights. Of course, eliminating the daily aggravation of manual searches is priceless.

Before You Leave for the Airport

1) Check the departure status of your flight through the airline’s website
2) Check-in before leaving for the airport and print your boarding passes (or have loaded onto the airline app)
3) Confirm the weather report in departure and arrival cities
4) When traveling with young children, take one toy or “security blanket” for access during the flight and explain what they can expect at the airport (crowds, security lines, etc.)

Travel Apps for the Journey

1) Seat Alerts from ExpertFlyer (Free. Also offers in-app purchases)
Stuck in the middle seat again? Seat Alerts from ExpertFlyer can get you out of the middle seat and into a window, aisle, or a specific seat. You can also set an alert to grab a seat on a completely booked flight. The free app is available for iOS and Android devices.

2) FlightAware.com (Free)
FlightAware is the world’s largest flight tracking data company and provides over 10,000 aircraft operators and service companies as well as over 12,000,000 passengers with global flight tracking solutions.

3) HotelTonight (Free)
If this is your family summer vacation, the odds are you will not need this app, but it a great app to have at-the-ready, especially if your flight has been cancelled due to weather or mechanical issues. Availability/ booking, pricing, and customer reviews are all available through the app.

4) Google Trips (Free)
Staying organized and having a game plan for sightseeing and other activities is essential to maintaining your sanity (and your cool) during family vacations. Google Trips helps organize expenses, maintains daily schedules, and offers advice about what to do and where to go.

5) Uber / Lyft (Free)
No big surprise here but Uber or Lyft (or both) should be must-have apps on your mobile device. Uber is available in many countries around the world including most European countries, South America, Australia and Asia (Lyft is branching out, starting with Canada).

6) PackPoint ($2.99 purchase)
Another essential app if you are traveling with the family and “responsible” for packing for everyone. In short, PackPoint will organize what you need to pack based on the length of travel, weather at your destination, and any activities planned during your trip.

7) Elk Currency Converter (14-day free trial / $3.99 purchase)
Elk is a fast way to convert currencies on your trips. It knows where (in the world) you are, and automatically picks the right currency for you and makes converting currencies quick and convenient.

8) Speak & Translate: Translator (Free. Also offers in-app purchases)
Speak & Translate is a very effective voice and text translator that allows you to communicate with anyone, anywhere in the world. Real-time voice recognition, texting, and iCloud integration synchronizes your history of translations across all your Apple devices.

9) Foursquare City Guide (Free)
Foursquare City Guide will lead you to the perfect spot — anywhere in the world. Get helpful, positive tips from their trusted global community and keep track of where you’ve been and where you want to go, all in one place. Available for IOS and Android devices.

10) Moovit: Transit App (Free)
Moovit is a very popular transit app that supports over 2,000 cities with more on the way. You can use it to find all forms of public transportation available including trains, subways, bus, trams, and so much more.

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ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

Summer is the perfect time to hit the open road: School’s out, the weather’s warm, and the possibilities are endless. According to WalletHub, there’s still a dilemma to reckon with: Deciding on a destination and somehow affording everything you want to pack into your itinerary.

Gas prices might be one thing to worry about. They’ve been growing this year, with the national average rising 67 cents between January 1 and May 4. On top of that, you’ll need to consider accommodations, activities, and dining. All of these certainly contribute to the more than $761 billion we spend on leisure travel each year.

None of the expense and hassle, however, seems to discourage Americans from traveling. In fact, 53 percent of families traveling this summer still plan to take road trips, according to AAA.

Source: WalletHub

With road warriors in mind, WalletHub compared the 50 U.S. states based on 33 key metrics to find the most fun, scenic and wallet-friendly road-trip destinations — plus those that’ll have travelers pulling a quick U-turn. Their data set ranges from the number of attractions to road conditions to costs. Click here for the full ranking, methodology, and expert road-trip advice from WalletHub.

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ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

A collection of fun facts and trivia curated from Sundance Vacations offer some interesting takeaways. We’ve highlighted our top 10 favorites for air travelers. Access the full post here to read all 85 kernels of knowledge.

  1. Contrary to what you may see in action films, it’s impossible to open a commercial aircraft door mid-flight. The cabin is so pressurized that it would take several strong people to push it open since it must be moved in and turned slightly before opening.
  2. During an average liftoff, a commercial jet takes off at 550-580 miles per hour.
  3. According to statistics gathered in 2014, the U.S. has over 19,000 landing facilities and 378 airports.
  4. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, roughly 25 percent of the US population experience some sort of flying-related anxiety.
  5. Pilots and copilots are required to eat different meals in case one of the meals causes food poisoning.
  6. The likelihood of being in a plane crash in America is minimal: one in 11 million.
  7. At any given time of a day, there are over 61,000 people inside a plane in the United States.
  8. Every 60 seconds, 56 pieces of luggage are lost across the globe.
  9. Studies show jet lag feels worse when traveling from west to east.
  10. A recent study revealed that working while on vacation, even checking emails, results in you remembering less from your holiday.

    Happy Travels!

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ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

United Airlines OLD B747-400 Safety Video - YouTube

(Vintage United Airlines pre-flight safety video. Source: YouTube)

The pre-flight safety briefing is meant to prepare airline passengers with life-saving instructions and safety features of the aircraft in the event of an emergency. Yet, according to a Newsday story following last year’s emergency landing of Southwest Airlines flight 1380, many travelers don’t pay attention during the pre-flight safety demonstration. “Industry experts can’t provide numbers but offer plenty of anecdotal evidence. And their stories were backed up when a passenger on Southwest’s Flight 1380 posted video and photos on social media showing other travelers with their oxygen masks over only their mouths.”

Wikipedia notes that aviation regulations do not state how an airline should deliver the briefing, only that ‘The operator of an aircraft shall ensure that all passengers are orally briefed before each take-off’. As a result, and depending on the inflight entertainment system in the aircraft, as well as the airline’s policy, airlines may deliver a pre-recorded briefing or provide a live demonstration.

In contrast to vintage pre-flight safety videos, like the one shown above, United and other airlines have significantly jazzed-up their safety briefing videos to capture the attention of apathetic passengers.

United — Fly Like a Superhero (#SpiderManFarFromHome 7.2) - YouTube

(United Airline’s new pre-flight safety video features Spiderman, in advance of new release Spiderman: Far from Home)

Commercial carriers, like Turkish Airlines, whose pre-flight safety video features characters from the new LEGO Movie 2, have raised the creative entertainment bar in an effort to make airline safety videos more engaging.

Turkish Airlines safety video The Lego movie 2 - YouTube

(Turkish Airlines’ pre-flight safety video featuring characters from LEGO Movie 2)

But last month’s fiery crash of Aeroflot flight SU1492, in which some surviving passengers are shown escaping the aircraft with luggage in tow, suggests that more pointed instruction may be required in the event of an emergency evacuation.

While we cannot confirm if the following pre-flight safety video was presented to passengers on flight SU1492, the following Aeroflot safety briefing video translation does not appear to address the urgent need to quickly exit a distressed aircraft without one’s luggage.

Aeroflot Russian Airlines Flight Safety Video - YouTube

(Aeroflot pre-flight safety video. Source: Youtube)

ExpertFlyer posted a blog following the Aeroflot tragedy, which suggested that additional passengers’ lives may have been saved had survivors exited the aircraft without pausing to collect their belongings. One cannot predict how they will react in a crisis, but passengers have to take personal responsibility for their safety by paying attention to pre-flight safety briefings and airlines need to adequately address all International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) recommended safety requirements, including that all passengers must leave all carry-on bags behind during an evacuation.

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ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway 

The J.D. Power 2019 North America Airline Satisfaction Study finds that a combination of newer planes, better ticket value, and improved customer touchpoints have driven overall satisfaction with airlines to its highest point in history.

“While low-cost carriers have historically had the highest levels of customer satisfaction in our study, due to a strong sense of value for money among customers, that line is starting to blur as traditional carriers improve their services and operations,” said Michael Taylor, Travel Intelligence Lead at J.D. Power. “The one area where both traditional and low-cost carriers can still improve, however, is in in-flight services. It continues to be the lowest-ranked factor in the study, as many airlines still struggle with in-flight entertainment, connectivity, in-seat power and food service.”

Following are some of the key findings of the 2019 study:

  • Record-high customer satisfaction: Overall satisfaction with airlines increases 11 points to 773, continuing an eight-year trend of satisfaction improvement.
  • Improvement driven by traditional carriers: This year’s significant gains in customer satisfaction are driven by the traditional carriers, whose segment satisfaction score improves 22 points from 2018. The low-cost segment—while still having higher overall satisfaction than the traditional carrier segment—declines 6 points from 2018, thus driving a segment convergence in satisfaction.
  • Tech investments in reservation and check-in systems pay off: The reservation and check-in experiences are the most satisfying portions of the airline experience, driven by investments in digital check-in technologies, self-service kiosks and a concerted effort among airlines to improve the efficiency of the pre-flight process.
  • In-flight service remains a stumbling block: In-flight services, such as seatback entertainment, food service, and Wi-Fi continue to be the lowest-ranked part of the air traveler experience. Specific in-flight amenities that have the greatest positive effect on customer satisfaction are fresh food, seatback games and seatback live television.

Among traditional carriers, Alaska Airlines ranks highest for the 12th consecutive year, with a score of 801. Delta Air Lines (788) ranks second and American Airlines (764) ranks third. For low-cost carriers, JetBlue Airways (817) and Southwest Airlines (817) rank highest in a tie. For Southwest, this is the third consecutive year at the top of the J.D. Power ranking.

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Travel season is around the bend, and with it comes higher than average flight disruptions. In fact, the Bureau of Travel Statistics (BTS) found more than half (52%) of airports have more summer than winter delays. According to Airhelp.com analysis, the first six months of 2018 saw severe flight disruptions double, and in some countries triple, compared to the same prior year period. Delays are tough, especially if it causes passengers to miss connecting flights, but there’s nothing worse than a canceled flight.

Photo: cc Mark Hodson Photos 

Although BTS reports that only about 1% of domestic flights get canceled, that’s still a considerable number, and if you’re the one affected by the cancellation, well, who cares what the stats say? You just need to get to where you’re going ASAP and avoid excess frustration. We interviewed Julian Kheel, an air travel expert with The Points Guy, to get foolproof strategies for dealing with a flight cancellation. For more tips, read our post on Plan B strategies for getting unstuck at the airport.

WATCH our video podcast with Julian Kheel of The Points Guy

What to do if your flight gets canceled - YouTube

ExpertFlyer: We’re approaching the summer travel season, and with more people flying, summer ranks highest for flight delays and cancellations. Is there anything that travelers can do to prepare or to mitigate this issue?

Julian Kheel: Absolutely. As you said, the summer season is coming up, and it’s a tough time to fly, because everybody’s traveling. Planes are full. Tempers are short. But there are two rules you want to follow. The first one is obvious: You need to be patient. You need to make sure that you’ve left a little extra time at the airport or getting to your hotel — all of those steps and stops. You don’t want to be rushed because when you’re rushed, there’s no margin for error if you have a problem with your flight or hotel.

The other point is that you want to be proactive so that if you do hit a problem where you have a delay or a cancellation, you can tell the airline or hotel what you want, as opposed to letting them tell you how they’re going to help you.

ExpertFlyer: Once your flight has officially been canceled, what’s the first thing you should do to avoid chaos as much as possible?

Julian Kheel: When a flight is canceled, most people go to the reservation desk and there’s a line a mile long, because, everybody who was on that flight is now trying to get rebooked. The airlines have gotten a lot better in recent years at automatically rebooking you. Their computers will try to find the next flight. Sometimes that will work out and that’s all you need, but what I do if my flight is canceled or even delayed, is to look and see what other flights on that airline or even other airlines are going to my destination that day. So when I do get to talk to my carrier, I can say to them, again, being proactive, “This is the flight I want you to rebook me on.” If they don’t have a flight on their airline that will work for me, then I’m going to ask them to rebook me on another airline, which they can do if that’s the best option. Agents are authorized to do that in a number of circumstances.

Again, the first thing I’m going to do is find the information that I need. What is it that I want? How is it I want to get there? What flight do I want to be on? They can always say no, but you want to start off with the best solution so that if you have to negotiate with them, you at least are starting from what you really want.

ExpertFlyer: Being able to multitask is helpful too. Get on the line and start looking up that information while you’re waiting and then maybe even call the airline while you’re waiting on line to see the agent, right?

Julian Kheel: That’s exactly right. That’s step two. First of all, you’re right. There’s no reason that you can’t be looking for this information while you’re waiting in line, but oftentimes waiting in line is not going to be your best way to get rebooked. You can get on the phone with the airline. You don’t have to do it at the airport. Sometimes the folks at the airport do have a little more control about what they can do, but oftentimes a call to the airline saying, “Hey, my flight got canceled. This is the flight I want to be put on. Can you help me?” will do the trick.

Yet another option that’s popular nowadays is to use social media. All of the major US airlines have a strong social media presence, especially via Twitter, where you can tweet at them and say, “Hey, Delta, hey, American, my flight was canceled. I want to rebook. Can I DM you my record locator and can you help me?” They’re very good about reaching out and saying, “Yes, we can do this via Twitter.”

ExpertFlyer: In terms of the airline’s obligation, we don’t have a Passenger Bill Rights here in the US, per se. Is there something that flyers can rely on in terms of a remedy or compensation if their flight is canceled?

Julian Kheel: That’s a great question. First of all, to talk about what you started with there, in the US we don’t have a Passenger Bill of Rights as they do in the European Union. If you’re flying within the EU or to or from the EU on many carriers, you do have certain rights where if you’re delayed a certain amount of time or canceled, they have to compensate you and often into the hundreds of dollars. Traveling within or to or from Europe is a very different scenario. If you’re in the US, you don’t necessarily have legal rights.

However, in general, if you are at a connection point where your flight has been canceled, the airline is generally responsible or they usually are willing to put you up in a hotel, if necessary, to wait for the next morning’s flight and give you some sort of compensation for your food. That’s if you’re at a connection point. However, if you haven’t left your origin yet, it’s a different story. They don’t have to do that. They can say, “Sorry. Go back home or wherever it might be and come and see us again tomorrow.”

They’re not rights because they’re not legally bound to do so, but you’re more likely to get accommodated at an intermediate connection city than you are before you’ve started your trip.

ExpertFlyer: Before we let you go, tell us a little bit about what’s going on at The Points Guy. Is there anything that you want to share?

Julian Kheel: Absolutely. The Points Guy is the source for everything travel. The soul of the site, the core of the site is all about frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. If you’ve always said, “You know, I have all these points and miles and I don’t know how to use them or I see lots of people traveling on points and miles for free and I want to learn how to do that,” Thepointsguy.com is a great source to learn how to use and earn your miles and points. On top of that, we cover a lot of different travel news, everything from aviation news down to the day-to-day happenings that are going on in the industry.

Then, of course, going back to our discussion of flight cancellation, one of the best ways to protect yourself is if you have a credit card that offers you trip protection. A number of cards, such as the Citi Prestige, the Chase Sapphire Reserve, will offer a certain amount of coverage if you will if your flight is delayed or canceled depending on how long it’s been delayed.

Putting Your Plan B into Action

While specific situations may require slightly modified actions, our post detailing a backup plan for disrupted air travel will help you take the guesswork out of getting your trip back on track when your flight has been delayed or canceled.

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ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

On May 5th, Aeroflot flight SU1492 is reported to have been struck by lightning less than 30 minutes after takeoff. The fiery landing claimed the lives of 41 souls. While Russia is conducting a criminal investigation on the crash, attention has turned to the 37 survivors, many of whom escaped with luggage in tow.

Claims evacuation delayed by passengers getting luggage | Nine News Australia - YouTube

In a Forbes report, Aeroflot said, “The evacuation on Sunday only took 55 seconds, but a more accurate way to portray the situation is to say that passengers only had 55 seconds before the fire overtook them. Perhaps it was impossible to evacuate all passengers from the plane in these conditions, in that time frame, but it seems likely that at least some of the 41 people who perished on the plane might have lived if all of the 37 survivors would just have run out empty handed. A thorough accident investigation will reveal more, but it is possible that some passengers on SU1492 may have died because of blocked aisles.”

Despite industrywide safety protocols, the story posits questions about passengers’ ability to think clearly during an emergency and act in the interest of their own survival. “As has happened in other recent evacuations, passengers ran from the aircraft carrying baggage. That’s despite industrywide cabin safety briefings warning that all bags should be left behind.”

According to air travel expert and USA Today contributor, Bill McGee, these incidents have occurred with alarming frequency on airlines all over the world. “And other factors have hindered quicker evacuations: checked baggage fees have caused more carry-ons to clog cabins, tighter airline seats, record-high passenger load factors and the distraction of ubiquitous electronic devices. But human behavior has become the greatest obstacle of all.”

“Unfortunately, this is not a new issue. I first wrote about this issue in 2016 — detailing images of fleeing passengers dragging baggage after crashes in Shanghai, San Francisco, Las Vegas, New York, and Dubai — and again in 2018 — noting an astounding 95.7% of occupants have survived accidents on scheduled airlines in recent decades. But I warned that eventually, those retrieving personal items during an emergency evacuation could kill someone.”

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