When traveling, there are few worse things than flight delays and cancellations. Especially when you’re headed somewhere as amazing as Hawaii. I’ve experienced a fair number of trip mishaps when flying United, but Delta has come through time and time again. Which made it disconcerting when I thought they were going to leave us high and dry on our last trip. Delta flight issues? Definitely not what I expect.

Delta Flight Issues. Twice Over.

Our original itinerary was from San Francisco to Honolulu via Seattle. I booked the Main Cabin award tickets for 15,500 SkyMiles and $5.60 per person,  which is a fine deal between the West Coast and Hawaii. My sons were ecstatic that we were flying Delta rather than the competition since this meant we’d have seat back screens. Worth a few extra miles, for sure.

I encountered the first issue upon checking in. My typical MO is to check our reservation routinely. But I’d not paid attention this time, and it proved to be a poor decision. Delta had pulled an equipment swap on both segments, and we were no longer seated together on either flight. Traveling with an 8-year-old and 12-year-old, this is less than ideal. My only hope was to have the check-in agent work some magic when we arrived at the desk at SFO.

Enter the second issue. While we were eating breakfast, I received the first flight delay update. A second was received shortly thereafter, with a third hitting my inbox while on our way to the airport. Our almost 3-hour layover in Seattle had evaporated, and then some. We’d miss our connection to Honolulu.

So now I had to ask the agent to both get us on new flights and see if we could be seated together.

Delta flight issues

A General Travel Rule: Be Proactive

Rather than wait to see what Delta could offer at the airport, I checked the options in the app. There was only one itinerary that would get us to Hawaii that same day. We’d travel via LAX and actually arrive in Hawaii sooner. But based on the seat map, it was full. But the app let me select it, so I took a gamble and rebooked us. There didn’t appear to be any other options departing Seattle until the next day, so I’d rather roll the dice with the same-day option, even if it meant flying standby.

I’m glad I made the change when I did, as the flight filled up entirely. That news came when we checked in at SFO. But, we’d luckily gotten assignments. Then the even better news: the check-in agent was able to get us seats assigned together on both new flights. Fantastic. It changed a stressful morning into smooth sailing.

Final Thoughts

I cannot stress it enough. When travel goes sideways, be proactive. This reminded me of other times I’ve not delayed making travel changes. Whether it was booking the very last car from a National location to get myself to San Francisco after a flight cancellation, or calling United and successfully pressing to have us rebooked on a partner flight, it’s best to be in control of your own fate rather than wait for whatever the airline offers. I hate being at the mercy of a travel provider, although that still happens.

This was also a clear lesson in the life saver airline apps can be. When there is a major delay or cancellation, you can quickly search and book a new option. I generally opt out of app notifications (and don’t use a smartphone for daily life), but make a big exception for airline apps. I would never have known about our flight issues had I waited until we arrived at the airport to check its status.

Whether this is booking a backup itinerary, or searching for new flight options not offered by the airline, try to stay a step ahead of the other passengers during irregular operations. If the airport customer service line is long, call the airline at the same time. Lounge staff can be an immense help as well.

All is well that ends well. After stressing over the initial Delta flight issues, we ended up having plenty of time at SFO and LAX to enjoy the Delta Sky Clubs, finally arriving in Honolulu ahead of schedule. It was the beginning of a great trip.