travel delays

Southwest Airlines Woes May Foreshadow Trouble for Busy Holiday Travel Season

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American air travel is taking off again for the upcoming holidays but passengers may need to deal with possible headaches like the recent cancelations at Southwest Airlines, experts say.

"Don't be afraid to get out there but just be patient. That's the key,” said Daniel Burnham, senior passenger operations specialist for Scott’s Cheap Flights.

"The travel experience will be a little unpredictable for another six months or so at least."

Unpredictable as in canceled flights.

Dallas-based Southwest is just now rebounding from several days of widespread cancellations.

"You need to be aware there might be a lot of hiccups along the way and be prepared for that and have some contingencies in place,” Burnham said.

Burnham says what happened at Southwest could be repeated at other airlines -- or even at Southwest again.

He suggests paying extra attention to last-minute changes.

"I don't think it will be that bad as long as you the passenger keep track of it,” he said. “I think that's often the issue is airlines don't always do a perfect job of notifying you when there's been a schedule change."

Passengers should try to avoid the busiest travel days, he said.

"One thing I would suggest for a lot of people this year is try to stagger your trip away for those busy peak days -- one day before the holiday,” Burnham said.

As for where to go, he said people should think international.

"It's a great time to go to Europe,” he said. “It's actually off-peak there. You can go down to Latin America. Not that many people."

The travel website Hopper says people who wait until after Halloween to book their tickets will pay up to 40% more. An average roundtrip costs. $400.

Those who wait until the last minute can add another 25%.

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