October was a rough month for the airline industry. Southwest and American Airlines canceled thousands of flights.
With the holidays approaching, some travelers worry it may only get worse.
"I don't want to deal with it," Cassandra Adams said.
American Airlines and Southwest Airlines blamed weather and staffing for what happened in Phoenix, Dallas and Miami.
Travel experts say starting next week, a new wrinkle could make things even worse: International travel restrictions will be eased and fully vaccinated international travelers will be allowed to fly into the U.S.
Larger planes that airlines have used for domestic travel over the past year will also start heading overseas again.
Chris Millett, who was flying to Miami, said he will try to avoid holiday travel.
"Good luck to everyone doing it this holiday," he said. "I'm going to stick with driving."
How to protect yourself
So, how can travelers protect themselves? Veteran flier Dia Adams, a travel rewards expert with Forbes Advisor, has several tips.
Her first piece of advice?
"Fly nonstop, if at all possible. Don't save $20 by making that connection in Topeka, because you may be sleeping in Topeka," Adams said.
Next, she recommends downloading the airline’s app.
"In the app, you can track the incoming flight for the plane upon which you're leaving. Now, it's not going to guarantee the crew, but it will at least guarantee the metal," she said. "You book your flights in the app as opposed to having to wait 50 people deep in a line to talk to an agent. So you will save yourself the hassle by having that foresight."
Also, if at all possible, she suggests buying tickets with an airline credit card that has travel protections. Some costs can be covered if a flight gets delayed in another city.
"You can book your own hotel," she said. "It's usually up to $100 a day in expenses, and you can then submit them to the insurance on the credit card company."
Government rules don't force an airline to pay for a hotel in the event of a canceled or delayed flight, but many will if it's not weather-related.
Also, anyone who is delayed because of a broken plane or late crew should ask about the airline food voucher policy, so you don't waste your money.
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