Airline Chaos Puts A Damper On Summer Travel

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If there was ever a time for a vacation, the summer of 2022 was it. After years of pandemic stressors, Americans were ready to take to the skies in search of fun, sun and relaxation.

But according to a recent Forbes Advisor survey, many travelers hit some stressful snags along the way.

Travel delays and cancellations aren’t remarkably rare, but understaffed airlines, increased demand for flights and severe storms made air travel particularly challenging this summer.

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Out of 2,000 travelers surveyed, 61% of travelers experienced flight delays and/or cancellations—two events that can quickly dampen the summer travel spirit. Among that 61%, 83% lost money as a result of travel issues.

Which Of The Following Have You Experienced While Traveling This Summer? (Select All That Apply)

Travel issue % of respondents
My flight was delayed 45%
My luggage was delayed by two hours or more 21%
My flight was canceled 16%
My luggage was delayed and then returned to my home address while I was on vacation 16%
My luggage was lost and I still haven’t received it 11%
None of the above 29%Delays And Cancellations Left Travelers Stuck In Airport

More than a third (39%) of travelers surveyed were lucky enough to keep their original travel itinerary intact. That wasn’t the case for the majority of respondents.

Flight delays and cancellations left about half (51%) of travelers surveyed stuck at the airport for some period of time while they waited for a rescheduled or alternative flight.

Fifty-five percent of those stranded travelers were able to resume travel within four hours or less. An unfortunate 26% spent seven hours or more waiting for their next flight, with 4% waiting 16 hours or more.  

Missed Experiences And Upended Plans

Waiting around for a new flight can be an inconvenience, but for some travelers surveyed, it came at a h​​efty price: missed experiences and financial losses.

Here are the top summer travel problems among the 61% of respondents who experienced a flight delay or cancellation:

  • About 31% of travelers who experienced a flight delay or cancellation missed a pre-paid night at their resort or hotel.
  • 19% missed out on a pre-paid activity at their destination.
  • An unfortunate 17% had to cancel their trip altogether, losing money on expenses like transportation, airport parking, dog kenneling and unused hotel rooms.
  • Another 17% missed out on important events like weddings, graduations and family reunions.
  • An unlucky 13% missed out on a cruise after their flight was canceled or delayed.

Just how much have travelers lost this summer thanks to airport mishaps?

More than half of respondents (59%) lost $500 or less, and others were less fortunate:

  • Nearly one in four travelers (24%) lost more than $500.
  • 14% reported losing more than $1,000.

Travel Insurance Can Soften The Financial Blow Of Delayed Or Canceled Flights

Hotel rooms, resort stays and pre-paid activities aren’t always refundable, especially if you need to cancel at the last minute.

Travel delays and cancellations may also cause you to need to pay for new arrangements—like hotels, transportation and meals—while you wait for your trip to continue.

A comprehensive travel insurance plan can reimburse you for certain unexpected costs and losses that happen before and during your trip.

The best travel insurance plans include:

  • Travel cancellation insurance, which reimburses 100% of your pre-paid, non-refundable costs if your trip is canceled due to a covered reason.
  • Trip delay insurance, which reimburses you for costs associated with a travel delay, like unexpected dining needs or a hotel room.
  • Baggage insurance, which pays if your luggage is delayed or lost and you need a few essentials to tide you over. It can also reimburse you for the depreciated value of your personal property if it’s stolen while traveling.
  • Trip interruption insurance, which usually reimburses up to 150% of your insured trip cost if you need to cut your travels short due to a problem covered by the policy.
  • Medical travel insurance, which covers emergency medical costs if you become ill or injured while traveling.
  • Emergency medical evacuation coverage, which can cover the hefty cost of transportation if you need to be taken to the nearest adequate medical treatment facility.


This online survey of 2,000 U.S. adults who traveled on a plane since June 1, 2022, was commissioned by Forbes Advisor and conducted by market research company OnePoll, in accordance with the Market Research Society’s code of conduct.

Data was collected Aug. 3-9, 2022. The margin of error is +/- 2.2 points with 95% confidence.

This survey was overseen by the OnePoll research team, which is a member of the MRS and has a corporate membership with the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR).