The upcoming summer season is expected to be one of the busiest on record as travel demand continues to surge.
Air travel last summer was marked by flight delays and cancellations, lost luggage, and general airport chaos as travel demand surged after pandemic-era restrictions were lifted and normal tourism resumed in many destinations around the world.
Airlines and airports around the world struggled to keep up with the demand, and early indicators show that this summer may play out the same way.
Ed Bastian, the CEO of Delta Air Lines, reported “record advance bookings for the summer” at a recent earnings call, stating that travel is something that consumers are prioritizing.
Data shows that international flight bookings are already up more than 30% from last year.
Additionally, the Federal Aviation Agency is predicting a 45% increase in flight delays this summer based on current staffing shortages.
The agency has even asked airlines to cut back on flights in certain markets like the New York Metro Area because of a shortage of qualified air traffic controllers.
So how can travelers prepare for air travel this summer?
Here are five things to know before you book your flights:
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1. Try To Avoid Tight Connections
If at all possible, avoid booking flights with layovers this summer. If your flight does have a layover, aim for a longer connection time.
With record flight delays expected for this summer, travelers with tight connections may end up missing the second leg of their flight due to delays.
Booking nonstop flights or booking flights with longer layovers will make traveling a smoother, less stressful experience.
2. Travel With Carry-On Luggage Only
Traveling with carry-on luggage only is another way to make travel a smoother experience this summer.
Checking a bag puts you at risk of losing your luggage and disrupting your trip, so stick with a carry-on only to save time and stress at the airport.
3. Fly On The First Flight Of The Day
Booking early-morning flights is one of the best ways to hedge your bets against flight delays and cancellations.
Based on data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, 86% of flights departing between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. are on time, while only 66% of flights departing between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. are on time.
While it may sting to wake up so early for a flight, it’s better than spending hours at the airport waiting on a delay or having your flight canceled outright.
4. Travel On Weekdays For Cheaper Flights
Data has shown that the cheapest days of the week to fly are Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Flights on the weekends tend to be more expensive.
If you can be flexible with your travel dates and depart and return mid-week, you’re likely to save money even amidst skyrocketing airfare prices this summer.
5. Research Airlines Before Booking
Certain airlines in the U.S. have a better track record than others when it comes to on-time flight departures. These are the airlines with the least delays in the United States.
Leading the pack is Delta Air Lines, with an 84.1% on-time departure rate, followed by Alaska Airlines and United Airlines, with on-time departure rates hovering above 81%.
The worst airlines are Allegiant Air, with only 66.5% on-time flights, and JetBlue, at 67.1%.
Avoiding Air Travel Chaos This Summer
Although air travel is expected to be busier, more expensive, and more chaotic than ever before this summer, these tips can help you have a smoother, stress-free experience.
It’s also more important than ever to get travel insurance this summer to protect yourself in case anything goes wrong.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com