Industry travel tips as people gear up to fly out for Spring Break

While the holiday travel season has wrapped up, many people are now looking ahead to plans for Spring Break, along with how best to protect themselves in the event of all-too-familiar disruptions, delays, and cancellations.

Last month, snowy and unsettling weather saw thousands of people stranded and sleeping at airports in Canada, the U.S., and Mexico. More recently, violence in Mexico has raised concerns.

With no shortage of travel nightmare stories available, some travellers are now looking to take extra precautions while booking flights and accommodation for the upcoming break, which gets underway in two months.

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Mexico, according to Allison Wallace with Flight Centre, is the number one sunny destination for Canadian travellers in March. While snow is not so much a concern there, a federal travel advisory is in place for parts of that country. This is where insurance comes in.

“It is a travel advisory versus a warning, so there’s a big difference with respect to insurance. If there’s a travel advisory, that’s not really an insurable event, it’s when something turns into warning, but you want to make sure you have that insurance before you know there’s a warning, otherwise it wouldn’t be covered,” explained Wallace.

“With an advisory itself, it doesn’t just give you carte blanche to cancel because of it, whereas you would be able to in most situations with a warning — the airlines will usually waive cancellation fees, for example.”

She says peak travel season is considered anytime kids are off school, when you can expect the airport to be busier than normal. She suggests you adjust the dates you come and go because it can affect ticket price and availability.

A sign reading "international and USA flights" at YVR.

Vancouver International Airport on Monday, Sept. 26, 2022. (CityNews Image)

“Flights are full. Security lines are full. It means less options should your flights get cancelled for getting on a flight within hours or the next day. We all want the best price but with the cheapest plane ticket, you’re going to get the most restrictions. You want to make sure your ticket allows you to do changes without fees or get a full refund. As most people know, the airline’s duty is to get you on the next available flight before they have to offer you a refund within 48 hours, that could be days at peak season travel.”

Another tip she has is to pack light — travel with a carry-on and don’t check any luggage if you can.

Wallace also stresses it’s key to have all your documents in place.

“We’re finding so many people who haven’t got their passports,” she said.

The seasoned travel agent recommends travellers brush up on their air passenger travel rights before taking off, adding you should track everything in case you need to follow up with the airline at a later date.

“Keep in mind, in the moment it’s all happening, there are different rules and with the passenger rights — understand what is within an airline’s control and what isn’t. That’s still something that will get settled, largely, after the event is happening.”

In addition to Mexico, Wallace says Hawaii is a popular destination with Canadians. California and Florida also make the cut because of Disneyland and Disney World, respectively.

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