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How are you (if you are) adjusting your flights, travel days?

I’ve recently taken, or planned, a few trips involving transatlantic flights and I realized that I have been adjusting my timings to allow for possible disruptions or delays much more than previously. Instead of allowing one day advance arrival before any must-do commitments, I’ve been giving two. On the way home, I give myself extra time as well. Sometimes I will spend an “extra night” in an airport hotel just to eliminate the stress of wondering if my travel to the airport will get me there “on time.” Interestingly, I am enjoying travel more without the added stress of close deadlines. I wish I had started this earlier. I do realize that as a retired person I have more time available for me now and others have limited vacation time.

How have you dealt with uncertainty of airline disruptions? Are you scheduling any differently?

Posted by
6801 posts

Since Covid, I've been very lucky and have not had any cancelled flights or major delays (other than the one in Berlin last year, but that was only 3 hours). So I don't really think about that when I schedule flights and book hotels

But I'm also the kind of person who generally flies to a destination and stays there for a number of days before moving on to someplace else. In fact, I don't think I've ever flown someplace and then immediately headed out to a different destination. I also don't schedule much the first day just because I like to play it sort of loose. So it's sort of a moot issue for me.

Heading home is the same. I will always get to my departure city a few days before I have to leave. I'm a planner and just don't like leaving anything to chance and that works for me.

Posted by
4230 posts

Post covid, I have yet to have a flight without significant delays, changes, or cancelations. The return leg of my upcoming flight to Washington DC was cancelled and I was switched from a direct flight to a different airline with a connection.

Last year on separate trips to England and Scotland, I had flights changed to different days. Luckily I'm flexible enough to be able to adjust, but no longer book hotels or cars that require payment in advance and I book tours for 2 days after arrival.

Posted by
7643 posts

On the way over, I always look at connections, both the airport and the amount of time. Might still take a tight connection in Europe if I know there are other flights that day, plus I usually look for early arrival flights. I also do not plan big things the first day, nor even really the second day; I have always liked a day or two to just unwind.

On the way back, I do everything I can to avoid a 6:00 AM departure, just makes for a terrible morning. I would pay extra for a 10:00 AM or later departure, even if it gets me into my home regional airport at 10:30 PM. Tight connections on the way back? Not too concerned, if I get stuck, I get stuck, no need to be anyplace usually.

So, No, not really changing anything, mainly because I already took precautions.

Posted by
638 posts

Arriving days early is built into my international travel. I like to relax and acclimate especially if I’m joining a tour. Thankfully I’ve not had a disruptive airline event for departures and only one cancellation/rescheduling for returns in almost two decades.

Additionally, I maintain full control of booking flights. Even if a tour providers includes air travel I ultimately decide on what airline to fly, what dates, what time, what connections or weather or not to even use that flight inclusive service. I love handling this on my own. Doing so removes all stresses from that component for me.

Posted by
1951 posts

Hi Carol now retired

As you may recall, I take one cruise. a year spending a few days pre cruise and sometimes post cruise in a city where I leave from or arrive to.

I live in Austin, TX as you know. Last September I flew to Seattle from Austin to take an Alaskan cruise.

I always sleep in the airport the night before but I really sleep in the airport itself. I go the night before I fly out. My friends can not believe that I do something they consider "crazy"

Well last year, the Austin Airport experienced a major electrical failure about 4 or 5 a.m. Everything went black. There was no power.

Doors to the airport had to be locked for security reasons. No one was allowed out or in.

There are not many roads to the airport. One crew member had to get out of his taxi and walk the last mile. Pilots could not get in. Flights were cancelled.

After a few hours, we had power but there were major lines even trying to get into the airport.

My plane left about an hour late and half full even though it was supposed to be full. Passengers were unable to make the flight because of the power outage.

So because I slept at the airport, I was on my flight to Seattle even though it was one hour late

I am flying to London this October to take a cruise. I was planning on spending five nights in London pre-cruise. My cruise is from Southampton to Lisbon. I will spend four nights in Lisbon post-cruise.

I booked through Delta which is putting me on Virgin Atlantic. I have had three changes thus far. One change reduced the lay over in Boston from Lisbon to Austin. I liked the 6 hour layover but now I will only have a 4 hour layover. I booked this flight because it had a 6 hour layover in Boston rather than a 4 hour layover in Philadelphia , I do not like rushing and stress but now I have ended up with a 4 hour layover in Boston exactly what I did not want.

But I got a third notification of change from Virgin Atlantic. I kept looking at the notification to see what the new time was but I could not find it. And then I realized, VA had changed my date. They were flying me in 24 hours earlier. So now I will be in London 6 days instead of five. This is ok but I had to book an additional hotel room and since it was a Saturday, it was expensive. I had deliberately booked my pre-cruise Sunday through Friday so as to avoid the expense of a Saturday night stay.

And guess what happened. I am staying Saturday night and it is expensive.

I am not leaving until October and it is only August. What more?

I always buy insurance and I bet that you do also.

Posted by
14157 posts

Carol, I am pretty much doing what you are doing with my next trip.

I'm doing a tour on Orkney and Shetland which is a bit more difficult to get to. I'm overnighting in Aberdeen for 2 nights to take up any slack if there is a delay with my flights to/thru Seattle and Amsterdam. I'm also going to Orkney a day before my tour starts. On the way home I'm flying to Aberdeen the day the tour ends, overnighting and then catching the flight out the day after. In retrospect I might have wanted to add another night in Aberdeen on the end as well since LoganAir, the only airline that services the Islands, is apparently in some difficulty and has had a number of cancelled or delayed flights.

Normally I'm doing as others do and staying in my arrival city for a few days before I move on.

I did have a complete flight cancellation on the way back from LHR in May. My flight was cancelled between the time I checked at the hotel and arrived at the airport, lol. They had rebooked me on a flight thru SLC which was fine but it left about 25 minutes before the Seattle flight did so it's a good thing I gave myself plenty of time at the airport!

I'm not one to get going at 6A from a European airport. I've learned my lessons and will overnight in either Amsterdam or Paris to get positioned for my flight back home.

I'll add that part of giving myself time ahead is to adjust to jet lag. I had a crummy time in the spring, both going and coming home. I'm doing the Timeshifter app this time and hope it will help mitigate it.

Posted by
2853 posts

I almost didn’t make my connection from SFO to home. My fault for cutting it closer than I like, but both SFO and United’s fault for delaying my luggage and messing up my Global Entry. Next year: 3 1/2 hour+ connections and carry on only coming home, same as I do outbound. I either need to stop buying as many Christmas ornaments or ship them home!

Pam, interesting that you had bad jet lag both directions. For the first time mine was awful and lasted 3 days both directions. I was a zombie. Outbound, I usually land running but on day 3 it hits. Early night and then I’m go to go again.

Posted by
2478 posts

I arrived in Stockholm today, for the RS Scandinavia tour that starts tomorrow. That part is normal as I always arrive a day or so early.

What's different this year is that I didn't even try to get here quickly from Phla. I got a non-stop to London and spent 3 days there. I suspect I will continue along those lines. Last minute changes to get to the Adriatic tour last year were no fun.

Posted by
904 posts

I fly to Europe and to Asia multiple times a year out of Chicago.

The European journeys I always worry about, except perhaps London with many daily flights on different carriers. My most recent return from Copenhagen via SAS was canceled with only last minute notification although the plane had technical issues which were known by SAS long before I received notification. The ORD - CPH route was impacted for several days - no flights either direction. This is the most recent example of why I add days for an arrival delay and research alternate transport routes or methods in case of flight failure while in Europe.

I have had much better luck with transatlantic flights to Asia and have much more confidence in the routes and carriers I fly there. Even there, however, if convenient to add a day between flights within Asia or on the arrival at the first stop, I do so. I am a big fan of nights at an airport hotel to relieve my stress!

Interesting question. I'm enjoying how others deal with the uncertainties!

Posted by
7389 posts

For my 2022 solo trip to Italy, I purposely used my voucher for a hotel in Milan as my first night in Italy. I didn’t care about going to Milan that trip, but I didn’t want to miss my days returning to Stresa if plane connections didn’t go well. That trip was my first international one from Spokane which added an extra leg flying to SeaTac, so I had three flights. A funny aside - I still can’t switch my mindset to not arrive hours early for a flight, even for the small Spokane airport!

Coming back from Croatia recently, I was switching airlines in Amsterdam. I just planned an overnight in nearby charming Leiden to eliminate the chance of a missed connection that would have been costly.

For the trip I’m planning next May, I’m adding a couple of days upfront in Trani before the San Nicola Festival at Bari. That’s both for the plane connections to reach Italy and also because I will be taking a train from Rome down to the Puglia region the next day to arrive at Trani. I try not to book a special hotel for the first two nights, just in case.

I have the same situation as you; I’m retired, so I no longer have to strictly adhere to a limited number of vacation days.

Posted by
2211 posts

10 years ago we had a connecting flight to LHR cancelled at ORD and ended up sleeping in a concourse. After that trip we vowed not to connect in the US for our international trips believing that if we got at least to UK we could get to our destination. We stick with OneWorld Alliance airlines, try to build in 3 hour layovers and 3 days before we have to be someplace. Fast forward to this year where not only did we end up needing 5 days to get to our destination, but made the mistake of booking during a bank holiday and half-term break period. All flights were booked and the Eurostar as well. Hopefully it will be another 10 years before that happens again.

In the meantime, we will continue to build in extra days on the front end and try to stick with 3 hour layovers. We will also make sure we have currency,plug adapters and maps for any country we will be transiting through. Another thing we will be considering is what’s on the calendar - bank holidays, half-terms and major events (I saw the post about Taylor Swift concert).

But, whenever interruptions happen they eventually make a good story and we do love to travel.

Posted by
2140 posts

I will do pretty much anything to book a nonstop flight, if it is possible. We do get to SEA early as it can be such a mess. We just hang out in the lounge so that makes it more bearable.

If I have to do a connecting flight, I try to really consider the airport/season of the connection to determine how long of a connection it is. Last December I was veery thankful that we opted for the longer connection in Atlanta as we had a 90 minute delay leaving SEA due to de-icing. If we had taken the other connection, we would have missed the flight out of Atlanta to Munich.

If we have an early morning departure, I do like being close to the airport the night before. I don't like to chance things like that.

Even on our trip to Iceland the last few weeks, I knew weather was not an issue etc this time of year, but we still made sure we stayed about an hour from the airport. We had an evening flight so just enjoyed the day and then headed over. Those are nonstop flights for us, so that ,makes it less stressful.

My husband used to really push it with arrival at airports, but I have worn off on him;) I would rather get there early and just chill instead being OJ Simpson;)

Posted by
207 posts

Good question. You know how one searing event changes your travel planning forever? Last year, British Airways cancelled our flight leg from Marseille to Heathrow, and moved us to the DAY PRIOR. We'd paid good money for business class flights home so this really fried us. We had planned to start flying home the same morning our RS tour ended. After considering all options, we realized rebooking the other legs of the trip, including a hotel, was more trouble than it was worth, so we left the tour a day early, missing the farewell dinner. Now we plan to stay overnight at least one day where the tour ends, before starting to fly home. But I agree, it turned out to be more relaxing to return home with that extra day in the middle. Also, BA reimbursed us for the unexpected hotel cost at Heathrow, so BONUS!

Posted by
14157 posts

"A funny aside - I still can’t switch my mindset to not arrive hours early for a flight, even for the small Spokane airport!"

@Jean - It was so funny on a recent thread about the Top 10 airports for food or something like that and mentioned airports that are Pringles and breath mints kind of places. That is definitely Spokane, hahaha!

Horsewoofie - I was just looking at my return flights and the times have changed so only have 1.5 hours in Seattle. I will carry on going back home as well although there are usually plenty of flights during the day.

Patty!! My word...5 days to get there? Yikes.

Carol, this is a really interesting thread. Always good to see what others do and what their experiences have been.

Posted by
2460 posts

For my upcoming trip to Turkey, I'm leaving 5 days before the RS tour starts to spend time in Istanbul ahead of the tour. I currently don't have any plans that can't be canceled or adjusted if needed, including the hotel 24 hours ahead. On past tours, I arrived only two days ahead but am now too a retired person so I have more flexibility to add time, and Istanbul has reasonably priced accommodations so it's not a giant extra expense.

Going home, I opted to break my return into two legs - Izmir to Amsterdam for an overnight at an airport hotel, then home from AMS the next day on a morning flight. It (hopefully) increases my chances of getting home because I know my flight originates in AMS and there is more than one flight option to the west coast in the off chance there's an issue.

Adding cushion is partly due to my travel drama in 2021 that involved all manner of train strikes preventing me from getting to the airport to return home as scheduled. Though this upcoming trip violates my new (soft) rule of not being in transit the day before you are scheduled to come home, I will still try to do that when I can. I will also be sure to have back pocket research done ahead of time with alternative flights for the ones I have scheduled. I also learned that trying to sort out complicated travel situations while you're stressed and sleep deprived is not fun.

Posted by
2212 posts

Yes. United changed my overseas return flight to give me only an hour and 25 minutes in Newark to get through immigration and change planes. No way did I believe that was going to work. So I changed to a direct Milan-ORD flight and then on home the next day. As Coloradoans, my husband and I always talked about when we got "too old" we could fly to the east coast and spend a night and then go on overseas the next day. Now I'm even farther west, in Idaho, and I'm putting that plan into action!

Posted by
2267 posts

Interesting topic, Carol.

For me, it's hard to parse what changes in my behaviors are adaptations to the current climate versus some personal growth and change I've gone through over the last 5 years. I am a far more relaxed and patient person than I was for many, many years.

One thing I have done to make travel smoother is commit to a single airline alliance, and in that, a primary carrier. (In my case, OneWorld and American.) I've learned how to earn status more easily than being a road warier—mostly with credit cards. The benefits of the status are valuable and help make volatile travel a little smoother and easier.
-Phone support handled by the best agents
-Priority check-in
-Fast-track security
-Lounge access...And access to the lounge agents—like the call center, they're the best of the best.
-Free bags, tagged for priority handling
-Priority boarding
-Free seat selection, including extra legroom,
-Free upgrades on domestic legs, and, to a lesser extent, international

Yes, that loyalty means occasionally I pay a bit more for a fight vs another carrier, but it's not much and not often. And I easily recoup it with free G&Ts in the lounges versus selling a kidney for a cocktail in the airport lounge.

Posted by
2764 posts

I’ve been sitting here thinking about this, and I think post Covid originally there were some changes but now while my business travel is not as extensive as it used to be,, I can’t think of any other changes I think maybe because I’m still traveling for business I’ve had to just go back to normal. And I honestly don’t find that many disruptions, etc. I think in the past year I have one flight that was disrupted and it made me three hours late not a real deal breaker

Posted by
3240 posts

I have always allowed extra time in the original arrival city, just incase there was a flight issue. This year for my Camino in Spain, I planned four days in Madrid for several reasons. 1. Oddly, I flew Iberia (a OneWorld Airline as I usually fly BA), which has only one daily flight from Boston to Madrid. I wanted plenty of make up time if my flight was cancelled. 2. I wanted to get over jet lag before I walked miles and miles...this barely worked. I had the worst jet lag I've ever had from that flight, and it took me the full four days to even partially get over jet lag. Fortunately, I did get some sleep on that last night in Madrid. 3. I just like to get used to a country if I've never been there before, play with the language that I need to know and get the lay of the land, etc. I would have been in trouble if I hadn't planned this amount of time on this trip.

Posted by
332 posts

We’ve made changes in the last three years, some are in reaction to post-covid travel issues, but most are because we are now older and have more time and disposable income. We’re fortunate to be able to purchase upgrades, perks and pad our arrival and departure with extra days.

Airport lounge access is our latest strategy to ease the potential stresses of transatlantic travel delays. This past spring, we had a several hour delay at Rekjavik connecting to Amsterdam. We had booked Saga class with lounge access. With comfortable, quiet seating areas and a really (really) nice buffet, I hardly noticed the 2 plus hour delay. Getting on our second flight I was so relaxed, I actually slept. I would have been totally frazzled had we needed to hole up in a corner at the gate.

Currently, we’re looking into upgrading to the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card with lounge access and travel delay insurance among the benefits offered. We‘re crunching the numbers to make sure that the steep annual fee pencils out.

Like others have mentioned, we‘re not booking anything expensive or important on day two of our trip, the day after the day of arrival. (The day of arrival has always been off the table.)

This past April, our daughter almost missed our second-day-of-trip Vermeer entry time because the toilet on her plane from JFK overflowed before boarding. That plane wasn’t going anywhere that night. She was delayed a full 24 hours. The basic travel insurance we purchased for medical purposes did reimburse her for a portion of her loss. So, I think that we’ll continue to buy insurance, too, something we never did before 2020.