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The Risks of Flying During COVID-19 Pandemic: Overnight Delays

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Passengers with connecting flights have one more thing to worry about right now: actually reaching their final destination on time.

Not everyone is traveling to or from major airports. Some people are still visiting smaller, regional airports — where a canceled flight could wreak havoc back in the day (say, a few months ago. Those were the days!)

You might be stranded for a couple of hours or maybe overnight. (Longer if you visit, say, Fargo during February. I speak from experience.)

A Delta Air Lines Boeing 717 on the ground at Fargo Hector International Airport (FAR).
A Delta Air Lines Boeing 717 on the ground at Fargo Hector International Airport (FAR) during day two or three of a delay. I forget which.

One problem now is some destinations are operating only one flight a day. And if you miss that flight or it gets canceled — oh, boy.

A thread on FlyerTalk details a woman’s extended stay in Williston, North Dakota, while trying to get to Orlando.

Basically, Delta canceled her Thursday flight from XWA to MSP. (From MSP, she planned to connect to MCO). She spent hours on hold and even went to Williston’s airport twice to get help. The soonest Delta could get her flight from Williston was next Thursday.

She’d be better off walking to Orlando!

Several FlyerTalkers offered help and advice. And in the end, she must now drive to Minot (about two hours away) to catch a flight home today.

How This Could Affect You and Me

Those of us who regularly travel to smaller airports could be faced with similar situations. If you fly into a small market, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Planning on an overnight layover is one thing.

But if your flight is canceled during limited schedules such as right now — egads.

“There is no ability to fly XWA-MSP-MCO on Delta without an overnight stay in Minneapolis,” noted poster DTWFlyer.  “This is a problem others (are experiencing) with such a limited, bare bones schedule and only one flight per day from many of these really small outstations.”

Many of our family members live in smaller markets (Boise, Fargo, Madison); in most cases, only two daily flights depart those airports. If we miss one of those, catching a flight back home to LAX would become a chore (MSP to LAX is currently peaking at twice a day on Delta). Although it’d be a good opportunity to check out the IHG at MSP 🙂

Adventures can sometimes be fun and not as bad we think they’ll be. But with a toddler who’s three-going-on-thirteen, I think we’re staying home until at least the middle of next year.

We just don’t want to put ourselves at an increased risk of being stuck somewhere for a few days and deal with hotels, ground transportation, and everything else that overnight delays encompass.

— Chris

Featured image: ©iStock.com/kieferpix

Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


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2 Comments

  1. You make some really great points here. I am looking at domestic MRs in June and July (mostly just playing with the app that I am developing and fine tuning it a bit) and it seems that the reduced schedules and lack of backup flights to certain stations would be a huge deal. We’ve definitely been spoiled by the frequencies that were present just a few months ago.

  2. I experienced this just a few months ago when things were ‘normal’. I had 2 choices, stay over for 2 nights until the next flight, or fly to a nearby airport and arrange for my own ground transportation (which I did). Looking at that situation today, (without calling the airline), that same situation would delay me a full week. My best solution now would be to Uber home (~1 1/2 hrs) get my own car, then drive to another city about 3 hours away, park, and fly out of that airport. The added costs would more than double my original transportation & plane ticket costs and I’d lose a day.
    The airline still has my $700+ for flights cancelled in March/April. I requested a refund but was only given a voucher. I’m concerned that the airline may not survive, and if it does, with reduced flights, may no longer fly to the destinations I want to go. With no vaccine available, I’d rather plan road trips for the next 5+ years since planes are too cramped and social distancing is literally impossible unless the planes are only 1/3 to 1/2 full which they are not. Even an empty middle seat is not social distancing. From what I’ve read and seen in videos, the only time there is an empty middle seat is if they didn’t sell that ticket (like before). Airlines have not stopped selling middle seat tickets despite what some claim.

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