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Travel woes? How to prepare for flight cancellations and delays

Use these expert tips to avoid airport Armageddon if you're traveling for the July 4th holiday amid ongoing cancellations and delays at U.S. airports.

As millions of Americans get set to travel for the upcoming holiday weekend, flight delays and cancellations continue to cause headaches at airports across the country.

More than 25% of U.S. flights are now being delayed, half of them for an hour or more, according to the travel app Hopper.

A combination of staffing shortages, bad weather and soaring demand has made dealing with airport exasperation an increasing feature for travelers this summer. This comes with demand at its highest in two years, as the Transportation Security Administration shared that it screened 2,462,097 people at airports on Sunday, the highest volume since Feb. 11, 2020.

So how do you navigate the potential travel roadblocks? NBC News correspondent Emilie Ikeda shared tips from experts on TODAY Tuesday if you're going to be one of the 13 million Americans boarding a flight over the holiday.

Here's how to stay prepared.

Travel on off-peak days

If you're going away for the July 4th holiday, some days may be better than others when it comes to hopping on a flight, experts say.

This Friday is expected to be the busiest day at airports, according to AAA.

Experts suggest trying to leave on a less packed today. The least-congested days are expected to be Saturday and July 4th itself on Monday, according to AAA.

Get the app

Sign up for your airline's free text alerts or download their app so that you can get the fastest flight notifications about delays or cancellations.

Be efficient when packing bags

The less bags you have to check, the better chance you have of avoiding the long lines at check-in and baggage claim.

Try these methods if you have to rebook a canceled flight

Your airline's international call center is worth trying if you have to quickly rebook a flight that got canceled. Even if you're on a domestic flight, the international call center can still help, and wait times may be shorter.

Another option is protecting yourself in advance.

"For travelers who haven’t booked yet, consider adding a 'flight disruption protection' product that allows you to rebook yourself immediately on the next available flight, regardless of the airline," Hopper economist Hayley Berg said on TODAY Tuesday.

Another avenue to try is reaching out to the airline on Twitter or other social media platforms, especially if their customer service lines are busy.

If you get stuck and can't fly out until the following day, ask the airline to put you up at a hotel, although remember that they're not required by law to do so.

Be nice!

It's easy to be irate and take it out on customer service representatives, but that might not help solve anything.

It can't hurt to use a little kindness in a difficult situation to help fix the issue.

"I would say that a positive attitude is probably only going to get you further," Berg said.