Flight Disruption Outlook: Spring 2023

According to a recent Hopper survey, 76% of travelers have expressed concerns about disruptions on their upcoming trips.

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Hayley Berg - Tue Mar 14 2023

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After the disruption seen across the U.S during the past holiday season and recent airline disruptions making news headlines, Americans are gearing up for spring and summer travel with some added anxiety about their travel plans. We asked Hopper customers how concerned they were about travel disruptions like canceled flights, delays or missed connections heading into 2023 Spring and Summer travel seasons. The results were clear, with 76% of respondents expressing concern about disruptions on their upcoming trips.

Despite these fears, demand for travel remains ultra high headed into the busiest weeks of Spring Break travel! Instead of changing plans or choosing not to travel, many Hopper customers are spending a little more to protect their travel purchases. Today, one in five travelers booking flights on Hopper add a Flight Disruption Guarantee, protecting them from delays, cancellations or missed connections. If your trip is delayed or you miss your connection, you can instantly rebook the next flight to their destination in the app – no matter the airline – at no additional cost. In March so far, 20% of bookers on Hopper have added Flight Disruption Guarantee to their travel plans. 

Travelers are also adding extra flexibility to their trips – such as Hopper’s Change for Any Reason and Cancel for Any Reason. In fact, 29% of Hopper bookers add Change for Any Reason to their flight or hotel bookings. With these plans, Hopper pays the difference to the airline if you make changes or cancel your trip all together - with no additional cost to the traveler.

State of Travel Disruption

In the last month, 1.7% of flights were canceled before departure from US airports compared to 1.9% last year. Though the percentage drop may appear small, this improvement represents ~1,300 fewer flights canceled this spring compared to 2022. 

Overall delay rates have improved slightly compared to last year, impacting about 17.9% of flights compared to 18.2% in 2022. Only about one third of flights were delayed more than one hour, in line with last year. 

Though travel disruptions remain top of mind, there have been improvements in cancelation and delay rates compared to last year. In 2022 airlines rebuilt their networks from almost zero, resulting in increased disruptions due to everything from bad weather to understaffing and equipment/technology failures. This year, airlines are operating more efficiently, with higher staffing and more conservative schedules. Though we likely will see continued cancellations and delays, we expect to see fewer mass disruptions caused by events other than bad weather. 

Airports to Watch for Elevated Disruption Rates

Worst Airports Overall for Disruption

How to prepare for disruptions at the airport this spring?

  1. Sign up for alerts & check flight status before you go to the airport. You’ll want to know about delays and cancellations as early as possible. On most U.S. carriers, passengers can sign up for text, email, and/or in-app notifications about any changes to their itinerary including delay and cancellations. Especially ahead of this week’s storm, be sure to check your flight status before heading to the airport so you know about delays & cancellations ahead of time.

  2. Take the first flight out: In general, flights departing after 9am are 2X more likely to be delayed than departures scheduled between 5-8am. To avoid travel disruption, fly as early in the morning as possible.

  3. Add trip protection: If you’re flying this spring, you may want to consider adding trip protection like Hopper’s Flight Disruption Guarantee. If your flight is delayed, canceled or you miss a connection, you can immediately rebook on any flight, regardless of carrier. 

  4. Book with flexibility: With recent disruptions at the airport, travelers may want to consider adding extra flexibility to their travel plans in the future in case they want to make last minute changes. Travelers should take advantage of plans like Cancel for Any Reason or Change for Any Reason available on the Hopper app. With these plans, Hopper pays the difference to the airline if you make changes or cancel your trip all together - with no additional cost to the traveler.

  5. Know what options you have available: Know what other flights are headed to your destination the same day as your trip in case you’re disrupted and need to get on another flight. Be sure to check airline policies, many carriers will waive change fees if there is a weather advisory or give compensation/travel credit if your flight is canceled within a few hours of departure.

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