Are you planning to fly with Alaska Airlines soon?
According to Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minitsucci, you may be on a “turbulent ride.”
The issue is not turbulence at 30,000 feet. Rather, it has to do with the chances of getting out in the air at all. Alaska cancels flights and runs all spring due to lack of pilots.
In a video presentation Thursday to the airline’s frequent passengers, Minicucci took over the cancellations. “We cancel about 50 of the 1,200 flights daily,” he said. Minicucci said the cancellations were likely to continue, though he hoped things would improve as the summer progressed.
Flights are canceled daily. But the corresponding problem with Alaska Airlines customer service centers exacerbates the problems for travelers. Travelers said they waited for 10 hours or more.
Recently, my flight with Alaska Airlines was canceled while we were getting ready to board. I have also spoken with many travelers, some industry representatives and travel agents to distill some key steps for travelers when faced with a canceled flight.
If you plan to fly with Alaska Airlines this summer, take some time now and check your settings. Connect to the Internet and recheck your flights, reservations and any other arrangements you have made with the airline. Make sure none of your flights are changed or canceled.
In a recent video, Minicucci said Alaska Airlines was canceling about 4% of its flights. Previously, the airline had implemented a 2% reduction in its program. This means that more flights are canceled in an attempt to combine available pilots and crew with in-flight aircraft.
Do not wait for Alaska Airlines to contact you if your flights have changed. However, if you receive an email notification that your flight has been canceled, call the airline using the unpublished email number. This is different from the number of regular bookings. According to Alaska Airlines spokesman Tim Thompson, this “secret number” in the alert email will help you get to the front of the line to talk 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 have to call the airline, look for the person at your party with the highest level of elite. It is usually MVP Gold or higher. When an elite traveler calls, his calls are answered first.
A traveler was flying with her family to Palm Springs when her flight was canceled at the gate. He called Alaska Airlines and went on hold, then chose to receive a call behind the bookings. After returning home, she used her husband’s phone to make phone calls. He is a top flyer of the elite. Reservation staff responded immediately and were able to re-book everyone’s flight. Sitting in the lounge the day before their new flight, she finally received a call from Alaska Airlines. More than 24 hours had passed.
In addition to calling on your phone, you can send a message to the airline at 82008. Keep your messages below 160 characters. I have never used the text function, but have had good luck in the past sending a direct note via Twitter. Alaska has an exclusive social media group that monitors Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
When my flight was canceled two weeks ago, I went to the manning agent at the counter. A woman named Grace helped me book the next flight. I renamed it “Grace Under Fire” after 50 people quickly lined up behind me to make another reservation.
Sometimes it’s easier to get to the airport and talk to a customer service representative than it is to call the Alaska customer service office.
I spoke with an anchorage-based travel agent in Alaska. When asked for advice to travelers, the agent scoffed and said: “I do not know. Maybe the Delta book.
We laughed. The agent continued, “This is a problem when you are in a city with an airline. There are not many other options. “
For most travelers in the state, Alaska Airlines is the preferred airline. For many, it is the only option. At least here in Anchorage, there are some competing options heading south on the Lower 48.
In his video address, Alaska CEO Minicucci acknowledges that booking again during a peak travel period can be difficult. An elite traveler headed 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. That was too much, so he canceled the presentation and Alaska returned his ticket.
If you really want to get to your destination, call and buy another ticket. You have 24 hours to reserve the ticket, during which you can return it without penalty. Save your receipts and settle it later with Alaska Customer Service. It is always a good idea to get the name of the customer service representative who is helping you, as well as the time and date.
Consider travel insurance. I have travel insurance with Allianz, mainly for lost luggage and accidents. Some cancellations may be covered by the “travel delay” section of the contract, including accommodation, meals and transportation. My credit card, Chase Sapphire Reserve, also has a powerful travel insurance package. Includes travel delay insurance and expenses for lost or delayed luggage. There is also a category for replacement tickets, but there are ceilings on benefits. There is really no way to know exactly what is covered without reading the fine print.
But since the COVID-19 pandemic, travel insurance has become more popular.
If Alaska Airlines re-books you and other Alaska flights do not work, ask your agent to book you at another airline. Airlines do this every day, but sometimes you have to ask. Also, if your new flight requires a long wait, be sure to ask for help with accommodation and meals.
Many travelers are worried that Alaska Airlines pilots are on strike because of the information pickets that took place last month. The pilots do not strike. This month, the pilots’ union, the Airline Pilots Association, or ALPA, is voting to authorize a strike. While pilot negotiations are a separate and distinct issue from the current shortage of pilots, there is still a connection. This is because some pilots leave Alaska Airlines to work for other airlines. The association made its own video to highlight this issue.
All airlines want to bring in new pilots, so hiring is very competitive. Alaska Airlines is working hard to hire and train new pilots, booking agents and flight attendants to cope with the increase in travel this summer. Hopefully the airline will be successful in reducing the number of canceled flights and affected passengers. Meanwhile, passengers must be prepared for a “turbulent ride”.