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Was 2018 the ‘Worst Year for Air Travel’ Yet?

Calling any year the “worst year to fly” is a bold statement. But that’s just what AirHelp, a passenger rights company, is saying about 2018.

The company says 2018 was “the worst year to fly for travelers due to overtourism, delays and poor quality of service from many airlines internationally,” adding that “an average of 2,400 U.S. travelers experienced flight disruptions every day this year.”

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While weather and technical issues will always pose challenges for airlines’ punctuality and performance, AirHelp primarily blames overtourism for exacerbating those problems. “Overtourism,” of course, is simply a less charitable way of saying lots of people are traveling.

Can 2019 Be Better?

But semantics aside, that trend doesn’t look like it will subside in the coming year, meaning travelers and airlines alike should prepare for another taxing year in 2019.

The good news is that while no one can control the weather or ensure planes operate smoothly, there are steps travelers can take to mitigate these circumstances. AirHelp has some tips:

  • Fly during off-peak days or times, even later at night, when airports and aircraft are less crowded.
  • Leave extra time for traveling to and from the airport.
  • Many travelers already do this in the era of escalating bag fees, but pack light or only use a carry-on to skip baggage claim.
  • Bring chargers and extra entertainment for the airport to keep yourself (or your kids) occupied during a delay.
  • Know your rights for flight disruptions to make sure you are properly compensated for any delays

Readers, do you think 2018 was the worst year for air travel ever? Or was your experience just a series of run-of-the-mill disruptions? Comment below.

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By Carl Unger

Contributing Editor Carl Unger believes that every trip is worth taking. He loves an extended trip to Europe as much as he enjoys exploring the towns and landscape near home. Basically, you'll find him wherever there is good food, fresh air, and plenty of stories to bring home.

Carl has been writing for SmarterTravel since 2005. His travel writing has also appeared on USA Today and the About.com Boston travel guide.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: "It's not revolutionary, but a small Moleskine notebook is my one travel must-have. It's great for noting things you want to remember and it takes up hardly any space in your bag."

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: "Japan. I'd love to take a month off and visit the cities, temples, and countryside. I'm fascinated by the country's juxtaposition of ancient traditions and modern ambitions."

Travel Motto: “Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” –Terry Pratchett

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: "Window."

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