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Traveler's Guide: What To Do When There Is Chaos At the Airport?

Given the unexpected events that may cause the cancellation or delay of a flight, here we bring you a series of recommendations to follow in case you encounter chaos at the airport .

People at the airport

Photo: US Government

LatinAmerican Post | Yolanda González Madrid

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Leer en español: Guía para viajeros: ¿Qué hacer cuando hay caos en el aeropuerto?

A busy season begins for millions of people around the world, who will want to make the most of a few special days in other countries after the break caused by the pandemic. To do this, they must have exhaustive planning and all the necessary solutions to deal with inconveniences that may arise at the airport with canceled or delayed flights.

But how much could go wrong during this summer season? Just to mention one case, the German airline Lufthansa began to restrict the sale of tickets in July and has canceled up to 1,000 flights, this is due to a warning strike organized by its ground workers from 27 to 28 July, who demand a salary increase of 9.5%.

This situation has affected more than 134,000 passengers, mainly in the towns of Frankfurt and Munich. However, the airline reported that they are working day and night so that operations return to normal as soon as possible, although they warn that the effects of the strike may last until August. It is worth mentioning that passengers affected by these cancellations are being informed and will be rebooked on alternative flights.

Certainly, not all of us are prepared for this type of chaos at airports, and in most cases it catches us off guard and without the slightest idea of what to do. That is why in LatinAmerican Post we have prepared a small, but important, guide for travelers to be able to get ahead in the face of these eventualities.

Rights, responsibilities, and what to do in these cases

Continuing with the case of Lufthansa, the company exposes on its website a series of passenger rights -which have been in force since 2005- to know what to do in the event of a canceled flight. "The passenger has the right to be offered a new route, assistance, reimbursement, and compensation," the text reads. However, this right will be lost when the inconvenience is due to "extraordinary circumstances", such as strikes.

Likewise, the compensations will not be valid when the company has informed of the cancellation at least 14 days in advance. That is why one of the main recommendations that we offer is to be aware of emails or announcements from the airline since they have the duty both to inform about any eventuality and to offer alternative transport as an immediate solution.

What if the airline does not respond to the regulations?

In the event that the company does not want to fulfill its responsibilities, you as a passenger have the right to file a claim with the airline itself. To do this, you must fill out a claim form or send a letter, attaching all the evidence (such as the air ticket) that justifies the inconvenience, as well as other bills for maintenance during the waiting time.

Research is key

If you haven't bought your air ticket yet, an important tip here is to research the airlines. In the face of the chaos that this travel season can mean, if you choose the airline with the fewest canceled flights or the fewest delays, you will be one step ahead. That way you will minimize the risks.

In case the problem is last minute and you already have your ticket in hand, investigate what backup options could be useful to you. By having them, it will be much easier for the travel agent to speed things up with your new route suggestions.

Check the status of your flight before leaving

We all know that it is essential to be at the airport well in advance of departure time to avoid congestion and long lines. For this reason, before leaving in that direction, it is convenient to check the status of your flight, and for this, you can download the airline's app that will alert you of any mishap. Another option is to check the FlightAware portal to follow the latest flight trends.

Hand luggage, is the greatest ally

You have to be aware that there is a possibility that the luggage will be delayed or even lost. The idea is to travel as light as possible, but, obviously, we are not all the same. If you are one of those who travels with many things, it is advisable to make hand luggage your greatest ally, placing important objects such as a laptop/tablet, a change of clothes, personal hygiene items, and medications in it. This way you will be better prepared for any eventuality.

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In case of traveling with larger suitcases, it does not hurt to place a tracking device on them to, in this case, help the airline to locate it if it gets lost. Also, keep in mind to take invoices of what you buy to have a backup of those valuable objects.

Be patient and have a good attitude

After two years without being able to travel freely due to the pandemic, we will surely see more than one person without practice and being the cause of some small delay. Traveling in summer can be a complete nightmare and, in fact, it is already being seen in some airports with the influx of travelers and the few service personnel. The best solution? Pack your patience and be aware that there will be inconveniences on these dates.

And while patience is a virtue, a good attitude will be the perfect complement for everything to go well. Whether it's a delayed or canceled flight, the best way to approach a situation is with kindness and sympathy, especially with airline staff who will surely be irritated by so much chaos at the airport. Only in this way can things flow for both parties.