DES MOINES, Iowa — The thousands of Southwest Airlines flights canceled over the past few days show the disruption the travel industry continues to face during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The reason for the cancellations is still unclear. The airline blames weather and air traffic control issues, but the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says there was no such issue.
So, what can travelers do to make their flights easier? It could be easier said than done, but travel agents and airline staff said packing extra patience will make a world of a difference right now.
"You may see longer wait times at the TSA checkpoint, maybe longer wait times when you're trying to grab a coffee," said Kayla Korvarna, communications director for Des Moines International Airport. "Or even when you land in your deplaning, whether that be at the Des Moines International Airport or at your destination."
Travelers should do their homework before they get to the airport. One thing to check is COVID-19 policies of where they are traveling to.
"When a country says a PCR test or an antigen test, make sure specifically, those are the tests that you're presenting," said Jody Valentine with Allied Travel. "We have heard stories of people that have gotten all the way to Hawaii and not filled out their things correctly and had to turn around and come back home or didn't have the right kind of test."
And gone are the days of holding off to book flights. Travelers should book their flight as soon as they see it. The same goes for rental cars since there is a shortage happening.
Speaking of booking, travel insurance is something to consider. However, experts recommend reading the fine print to make sure the insurance covers what the traveler needs.
"So you need to make sure that you're canceled for any reason policy is a 100% refund policy. And there are a lot that aren't If you read the fine print, it's only a 75% refund if you're canceling for any reason, if you're canceling for a covered reason, it would be 100%. While COVID is not a covered reason, unless you're sick with it," said Valentine.
A red flag for travel insurance is the price. If travelers notice insurance for a couple of hundred dollars per person on one website and a discount or third supplier site that's only $50, the cheaper option likely doesn't cover their trip completely.
WATCH | After canceling nearly 2,000 weekend flights, Southwest issues continue Monday