Following a weekend of delays and cancellations, I simply do not trust any carrier to get me where I am going – so now I am booking two tickets for the same trip.
Airlines Have Been Struggling Worldwide
Domestic airlines in the United States had a mini-meltdown at the end of last week and through the weekend. Other places around the world are struggling with substantial demand, fewer employees, and COVID compliance rules.
In the UK alone, massive cancellations, computer software challenges, and baggage handling issues have caused airline cancellations, flight delays, and customer service issues that have British Airways cutting its schedule just when it needs a recovery most. In Manchester, the Managing Director of eight years, Karen Smart, resigned amid backlash over airport performance and labor challenges.
ViewFromTheWing reports that there are just 32 flights into China for the month due to new COVID five-week quarantine requirements.
When It Absolutely, Positively Has To Be There Overnight
My current trip plans remind me of a very old ad (one that features a 727, so enjoy that) from Federal Express which used to say, “Federal Express: When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”
I have a trip that I must make. Delayed or canceled flights are not an option for me, and while I can’t control the weather, I can hedge my bets. As spring break comes to a close and pre-Easter travel begins, my concern over an airline being able to complete a segment has grown to a level I wouldn’t have considered in the past. Flight disruptions due to staff shortages have affected every carrier from American Airlines to Southwest Airlines.
For this trip, I simply cannot ensure the long wait I did last week (more than 24 hours) and cannot rely on airline customer service to come through. Their hands are tied.
But I have a plan. I have added a duplicate booking to ensure that if my scheduled departure is going to be delayed substantially, I can cancel my existing booking and am already secured on another carrier. I should know the flight status before heading to the airport in real-time and can avoid the long wait times to process alternative arrangements. I’ll simply cancel the extra ticket for a full refund and guarantee my departure.
The Best Use of Miles and Points
While I could buy a refundable cash ticket on a credit card and process the cancellation once I have boarded the winning party, this is one of the best use cases for miles and points. By using miles and points to secure the secondary reservation, I can easily cancel online and I am less concerned about chasing the refund or waiting a few days for it to come back to my card.
The real concern isn’t that the refund won’t come, it’s just the amount of effort needed to follow up or the risk that I might book one that looks refundable but for some reason is not.
This also gives me an opportunity to choose my lounge while I wait for my flight with a clear conscience as I will not be certain who will take me to my final destination until shortly before I board.
Busy international airports with lots of options allow travelers to use this strategy to avoid missing a flight when they absolutely, positively have to be there overnight. I’m sure not all air lines like members doing this, but it’s not illegal, and truly it’s done to avoid the mass delays and flight cancellations they have subjected passengers to over the recent weeks. The only question now is… who will I end up flying?
What do you think? Have you ever or do you regularly book backup flights to ensure you arrive at your destination? Is there any moral deficiency in booking two trips when I am certain I will only take one?