How to book holiday travel this year, from the best day to find cheap flights to snagging free hotel upgrades

If your flight is canceled, you can save time by using the airline’s app to rebook.NurPhoto/Getty Images

As we approach the holidays, canceled flights and other issues that have plagued air travel this year, like lost luggage and staff shortages, may continue.

I’ve flown within Europe two times this year in my work as a travel writer and found it easiest to troubleshoot these types of travel issues by having the airline’s app on my phone. I follow real-time flight updates and store my boarding passes on the app for easy access.

Earlier this year, my easyJet flight from Nice to Mykonos was canceled 15 minutes before the scheduled departure. I used the app to search for replacement flights at the gate from my phone, instead of having to call the airline’s customer service line. The next flight was four days later, so I ended up canceling my trip entirely as I’d only planned to be away for six nights, and the airline fully refunded my airfare three days later.

CEO of low-cost Icelandic airline PLAY, Birgir Jónsson, agreed that getting in touch with the airline quickly when you learn of a cancellation or delay, like I did, is the best move.

He said travelers should contact the airline and start the process of booking a new flight right away so as not to miss out on getting rebooked on the first available flight. “This could be at the booth in the airport, or via phone, email, chat or text,” he said.

“If your flight is canceled, be prepared with alternative dates and times to share with customer service, so they can shift you to another flight that works with your schedule,” Jónsson said.

If you decide not to travel because of a canceled flight, many airlines will offer a full or partial refund. Skyscanner’s Lindsay recommends buying travel insurance as an additional layer of protection for holiday trips. While coverage varies by insurer, travel insurance typically offers protection against trip cancellations, interruptions and delays, lost or damaged baggage, and sometimes also coverage of medical costs while traveling, emergency transportation, and rental car damage.

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