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Travel experts: Give yourself extra time to avoid airport delays



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — If you're flying for your long-awaited vacation this summer, or any trip, brace yourself for potential delays and cancellations.

The nation's airports were packed this past weekend. Travel experts tell us to give ourselves extra time and pack our patience.

In America's airports Sunday, hundreds of cancellations and delays intensified the chaos and anxiety for passengers. Airport managers and travel agents expect the travel turmoil is not going to let up anytime soon.

"This summer, it's wild. It's a wild time to travel," said Doug Wren, who runs an international travel business in Salt Lake City.

Wren was in California for a few days and flew home Sunday. He said the travel tension was palpable.

"A high level of tension. You can feel it going through security and everything else," the travel agent said.

So, he recommends giving yourself extra time, especially if you're not a regular traveler or haven't traveled in a while.

"It's all about time," Wren said. "Do you leave enough time to get to the airport? To check in? To get through security? Was there enough time — if you're connecting — in between your flight to be able to connect?"

Airline staffing remains low as airline travel ramps up. That's the main factor impacting staffing and delays, according to Salt Lake International Airport spokeswoman Nancy Volmer.

"So, we're seeing more people traveling," Volmer said. "It's taking the airline industry a little bit longer to get all of their employees back up to the levels they were prior to the pandemic."

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Bad weather also compounds any problems.

"If you're traveling this summer, make sure you allow plenty of time. We always recommend two hours prior for domestic flights, three hours for international flights," Volmer said.

Fly nonstop and don't check bags when possible, Wren said. If you're heading to a wedding, cruise, business meeting, or anything you just can't miss, the travel agent said, "You're not coming in that day. You should be arriving the day before, allowing time for that."

Even if you take those precautions, you may still run into a delay or cancellations. Wren recommends knowing what other flights are available in case yours gets canceled.

"Know what your options are," he said. "How many flights are there that day if you miss this flight? How many on other airlines?"

Plan ahead and anticipate problems. On Sunday, 27,000 passengers came through the front door at Salt Lake City International Airport, which is comparable to Memorial Day weekend travel and pre-pandemic levels.

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Utah travel and tourismUtah transportationUtahLifestyle
Jed Boal

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