Amid cancelations with American Airlines, what should you do if your flight gets canceled?

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – American Airlines (AA) canceled 300 more flights Monday — five in Salt Lake City, totaling more than 2,000 since Friday. The company said strong winds at its Dallas-Fort Worth hub on Thursday left flight crews out of their regular position and led to a series of cancellations.

In an internal memo, AA’s chief operating officer, David Seymour said they were forced to proactively cancel some flights “for the last few days this month” to provide scheduling certainty for their crews. This comes during a staffing shortage for the company and just three weeks after passengers flying with Southwest Airlines experienced a similar issue.

Milford resident, Jamie Ashdown spent the last day on a mission to get her nephew back home. She explained that he was traveling home from a vacation in Tennessee to Colorado when he got stuck in Dallas during an overnight layover with American Airlines.

“When he got to Dallas, he realized they never called his plane [to board]. When he checked the status, he found out it was canceled. My sister called and asked me if I could help him find another ticket, any ticket. He was walking around the airport in Dallas-Fort Worth, just losing his mind. He’s like, ‘There are so many people in line, Aunt Jamie!'” said Ashdown.

Ashdown said her nephew finally made it back home at noon Monday after an exhausting 36 hours of being stranded at the airport. Salt Lake City resident, Afton January, went through a similar experience after visiting her grandfather in Seattle. She said her American Airlines flight that was supposed to take off Saturday afternoon was canceled. She ended up switching to a longer flight that took her to Dallas but then found out upon trying to board her connecting flight to Salt Lake City that it had been canceled too.

“In my dozens, if not hundreds of air travel experiences, this was probably one of the most stressful,” she said. “We’re still living in an ongoing pandemic. There was something very deeply uncomfortable about being stuck in an airport — wearing a mask, not knowing the vaccination status of other travelers, being packed into tight spaces. It was just an added level of stress.”

January said she finally made it back home Sunday night. Both she and Ashdown both said they won’t be traveling anytime soon, at least — not by plane. Travel experts told ABC News that a staffing boost of 1,800 flight attendants should help the airline company re-stabilize this week. But some worry this is a warning of what’s to come with this upcoming holiday season.

“After what happened this weekend, I don’t think I’ll be planning anything immediately, at least not during the holidays,” said January.

“I’ve already told my husband that we won’t be traveling for the holidays for sure. We are staying home. I don’t even want to chance it at this point,” said Ashdown.

Tips for travelers worried about cancellations

So what can you do to help minimize some of the frustrations if your upcoming flight gets canceled? Aldo Vazquez with AAA Utah said it starts with packing your patience and being aware that as an airline passenger, your flight could be susceptible to possible delays and cancellations.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has really flipped the industry around. What we’re seeing is that there’s a big demand for travel right now, especially as we’re heading into the busiest time of the year,” he said. “But there’s also this labor shortage that’s impacting airline scheduling.”

Vazquez offered the following tips for travelers in preparation for possible cancellations:

  • Know your rights as a passenger and review the airline’s policies on delays, cancellations, and rebooking
  • Consider getting travel insurance and work with a trusted travel agent who can guide you through the process, if there are any issues with your flight
  • Check the airline’s website and app on updated information on your flight
  • Know that the Department of Transportation requires a prompt refund to passengers for travel within the U.S. if the airline cancels or makes a significant change to your flight and you choose not to accept the alternate method of travel

The Points Guy also offers the following advice for airline travel:

  • Check the weather of the date of your scheduled travel. Be aware that if there is any sort of bad weather, plan ahead and give your friends, family, or employer a heads up that it could impact your flight
  • Opt-in for notifications on your phone regarding the status of your flight
  • If your flight is cancelled, beat the lines at the airport by rebooking a flight yourself. Airlines offer the option of searching and booking flights on your own through their website and app
  • If you’re really crunched for time and qualify for a refund, look for flights on other airlines that may not be impacted by the reason for your main airline’s cancellation

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