Are you planning to fly with Alaska Airlines soon?
You may be on a “choppy ride,” according to Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci.
The issue is not turbulence at 30,000 feet. Instead, it has to do with your chances of getting in the air at all. Alaska canceled flights and axing routes throughout the spring due to a lack of pilots.
In a video presentation Thursday of regular plane flyers, Minicucci was the owner of the cancellations. “We cancel about 50 of the 1,200 flights a day,” he said. Minicucci said the cancellations are likely to continue, even if he hopes things will get better as the summer continues.
Flights can be canceled daily. But the corresponding bottleneck in Alaska Airlines ’customer service centers is compounding the problems of travelers. Travelers reported waiting to be held for 10 hours or more.
Recently, my flight with Alaska Airlines was canceled when we were getting ready to board. Also, I spoke with several travelers, some industry representatives and travel agents to work out some important steps for travelers if they face a canceled flight.
If you plan to fly with Alaska Airlines this summer, take a moment now and review your arrangements. Go online and double check your flights, your seat assignments and any other arrangements you have made with the airline. Make sure none of your flights are changed or canceled.
In his recent video, Minicucci said Alaska Airlines canceled about 4% of its flights. Previously, the airline implemented a 2% reduction in its schedule. That means many flights have been canceled in an effort to pair available pilots and crew with planes to fly.
Don’t wait for Alaska Airlines to contact you if your flights change. However, if you receive an email notification that your flight has been canceled, call the airline using the unpublished email number. That’s different from the regular reservation number. According to Tim Thompson, a spokesman for Alaska Airlines, that “secret number” in the notification email can help you skip to the front of the line to speak to a customer service agent.
[Travelers can expect Alaska Airlines to keep canceling flights at high level for weeks]
If your flights are canceled and you need to call the plane, find the person in your party with the highest elite-level status. That’s usually MVP Gold or more. When an elite-level traveler calls, their calls are answered first.
A traveler was flying with his family to Palm Springs when his flight at the gate was canceled. He called Alaska Airlines and was stopped, then chose to call back from reservations. After riding home, she used her husband’s phone to call. He is a top-level elite flyer. The reservation staff responded immediately and he was able to rebook everyone’s flight. Sitting in the lounge the next day before their new flight, he finally received a call from Alaska Airlines. More than 24 hours have passed.
In addition to calling your phone, you can send a text to the airline, to 82008. Keep your messages under 160 characters. I haven’t used the text function yet, but I was previously happy to send a direct note via Twitter. Alaska has a dedicated social media team that monitors Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
When my flight was canceled two weeks ago, I went to the agent in charge of the counter. A woman named Grace helped rebook me for the next flight. I changed her to “Grace Under Fire” as 50 people quickly lined up behind me to rebook.
Sometimes it is easier to go to the airport and talk to a customer service agent than to arrive at the Alaska customer service office by phone.
I spoke with an Anchorage -based travel agent about the difficulties in Alaska. When asked for advice by travelers, the agent scoffed and said, “I don’t know. Delta can be booked. ”
We laughed. The agent continued, “It’s a problem if you’re in a town with a plane. There aren’t many other options.”
For most travelers in the state, Alaska Airlines is the preferred airline. For most, this is the only option. At the very least here in Anchorage, there are a few competition options heading south to the Low 48.
In his video address, Alaska CEO Minicucci acknowledged that rebooking during peak travel hours can be difficult. An elite-level traveler is heading to St. Louis for a presentation when his flight from Seattle was canceled. At the last minute, he could have bought a replacement ticket for $ 2,500. It was too much, so he canceled the presentation and Alaska refunded his ticket.
If you really need to get to your destination, call and buy another ticket. You have 24 hours to retain the ticket, where you can refund it with no penalty. Save your receipts and arrange them with Alaska customer service later. It’s always a good idea to get the name of the customer service agent assisting you, as well as the time and date.
Consider travel insurance. I have an Allianz travel insurance policy, mostly for lost luggage and accidents. Other cancellations may be covered under the “travel delay” portion of the policy, including accommodation, food and transportation. My credit card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve, also has a strong travel insurance package. This includes travel delay insurance and costs for lost or delayed luggage. There is also a category for replacement tickets, but there are benefits caps. There’s really no way to know what’s covered if you haven’t read the good print.
But since the COVID-19 pandemic, travel insurance has become more popular.
If Alaska Airlines rebooks you and other Alaska flights don’t work, ask the agent to book you with another airline. Airlines do this every day, but sometimes you have to ask. Also, if your new flight requires a long stop, be sure to ask for help with arrival and food.
Many travelers are worried that Alaska Airlines pilots are on strike, due to informational picketing that took place last month. The pilots did not strike. This month, the pilots ’union, the Air Line Pilots Association, or ALPA, took a vote to authorize the strike. While the pilots ’negotiations are a different and distinct issue from the current pilot shortage, there is a connection. That’s because some pilots left Alaska Airlines to work with other airlines. The union has made its own video to highlight this issue.
All airlines are looking to bring in new pilots, so hiring is a competition. Alaska Airlines is working hard to hire and train new pilots, reservation agents and flight attendants to accommodate the surge in travel this summer. Hopefully the airline will succeed in reducing the number of canceled trips and affected passengers. In the meantime, passengers should be ready for a “choppy ride.”