Travel agents offer advice after 700 weekend flights cancelled

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WISCONSIN (CBS 58) -- Flight cancellations surged once again over the weekend, but travel agents are saying there are ways you can protect yourself.

Over 700 flights were cancelled nationwide, which had many travelers changing their plans, but travel agents say planning ahead can help you get to your destination.

"We were heading from Washington Dulles to Milwaukee and our flight to Detroit got stuck for maintenance, and so then we had to de-plane after about 30 minutes and they couldn't tell us when our plane was gonna go out," said traveler Kirk Westfahl.

He was supposed to be on one of those hundreds of cancelled flights. Eventually he did get back home, but nearly half a day later than expected.

"So then they put us on another flight to Atlanta and rerouted us back to Milwaukee," said Westfahl.

Holly Robertson at Latitudes Travel said when things go wrong, don't take it out on people at the airport trying to help. She said they're frustrated, just like you.

"People need to be flexible, they need to pack their patience for sure," said Robertson.

She said arriving at the airport two hours early for domestic, and three hours for international, can give you time to sort out issues that might pop up.

You also need to think about what day you're arriving.

"If they're going to a certain event, or a cruise or something that is starting on a specific date, they need to maybe go a day before or plan that extra time in because of cancellations or delays. You may want to look at a non-stop flight if you can, to get where you're going instead of a connection," said Robertson.

She said if all else fails, travel insurance can help if you miss part of your trip or need to pay more for lodging.

Westfahl said while he might not add insurance, adding an extra day and taking direct flights are both things he plans to do more often.

"I think that's that flexibility, get out early and leave yourself some extra time," said Westfahl.

Officials with the Allied Flights Association say when flights are packed, as they are now, one cancelled flight can cause a cascading effect.

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