8 flight delay secrets you need to know before your next trip

Flight delays are inevitable, but they can be incredibly frustrating.

If you don’t fly very often, you might think the situation is completely out of your control and you’ll find yourself in annoyance and uncertainty. But there are ways to reduce the risk of facing a flight delay or, at the very least, know when they are coming, to make the experience less stressful.

We asked travel experts to share what many inexperienced passengers don’t know about flight delays and their tips for understanding the process. After all, knowledge is power.

You can follow your plane.

It helps to download the mobile app of the airline you are traveling with to receive notifications about gate changes and delays even before they are announced on the screen at the airport. But you can also use it to track your plane’s route before it arrives at your airport and anticipate potential flight delays.

“In your airline’s app, you can often see precisely where the plane is coming from and if it arrives on time,” said Ravi Roth, queer travel expert and host of the Gaycation Travel Show. .

There are also a number of non-airline apps and websites that allow you to keep tabs on your previous flight and departures. All you need is your flight number, airline, and departure date.

“FlightAware and Flightradar are two of my favorites, and you can track where your flight is coming from and also where it is at that time, which I think is so much fun to be able to see your plane in real time.” said travel blogger Esther Susag. “Additionally, just checking the aircraft’s published flight status through a simple Google search can also be a lot more informative than you might think.”

Previous flights are less likely to be delayed.

“Subsequent flights, which depend on the crew and potentially the aircraft itself from a previous segment, are more likely to be delayed,” said Adit Damodaran, economist at the Hopper travel booking app. . “In other words, a delayed early flight can have a ‘ripple effect’ in which subsequent flights are also delayed. We recommend that you always book the first flight if you can to avoid the impact of early-day delays.

So if you hate flight delays more than you hate waking up at dawn, go for a morning flight. Being able to follow your plane can also be reassuring when you have a morning flight.

“If I wanted to fly from DC to Chicago tomorrow, I could book a 6:45 am flight from Dulles and see the plane arrive from Los Angeles at 12:45 am,” said Willis Orlando, senior product operations specialist at Scott’s. Cheap flights. “The plane has to arrive six hours before my flight, so even if there are massive delays, this plane – or at least one plane – will be there for me in the morning. hours, my plane would only arrive an hour early, and chances are there would be a delay due to weather issues, personnel issues, mechanical issues.

Of course, morning flights are not immune to delays and other problems. But even if something does happen with your morning flight or if it ends up being canceled, you’ll usually have a lot more options for getting to your destination on the same day – whereas a canceled flight late in the day. noon or evening often means having to go home or to the hotel and return to the airport the next day.

Flying nonstop also offers better chances.

Aside from booking a flight in the morning, you can also try to avoid delays by opting when possible non-stop.

“Obviously, you reduce your chances of being delayed by flying nonstop because there are fewer flights involved,” Orlando said.

The non-stop option may cost more, but you don’t have to go to so many airports and gates. You can also avoid worrying about missing the connection if your first flight is delayed. If you’re looking for that peace of mind and can’t stand delays, paying a little extra might be worth it.

That being said, nonstop isn’t always an option. In these cases, you can be strategic about your stopover choices with time and location. Try to give yourself at least an hour between flights. You should also try to connect through a city that has a lot of flights to your final destination.

“Pick a route that’s offered multiple times a day,” Orlando advised. “That way your chances of getting a new booking on another flight quickly are better. “

SimonSkafar via Getty Images

Consider the weather at the hubs in your travel planning.

Paying attention to weather conditions can help.

Another way to stay on top of flight delays is to think about the weather. This also plays a role in your choice of air connections.

“If you are traveling across the country on a major US airline and need to stop over, they have hubs in hot and cold places,” Orlando explained. “So with United you can connect through Chicago or Houston. The smart choice would be Houston in the winter to avoid snow in Chicago and Chicago in the summer to avoid potential tropical storms in Houston. “

As you approach your trip, you may want to pay attention to the weather conditions at your departure and arrival airports and along the flight route. Knowing about bad storms in advance can help you anticipate potential delays, especially during the holidays when winter storms are a concern.

Weather issues in other parts of the country can also have a cascading effect on flights across the United States, including places not directly affected. And, of course, the weather is not the only cause of the delays.

“Keep in mind that even on a clear day, airlines can still face delays and cancellations due to disruptions to inbound flights, staffing issues, technical issues or other unforeseen circumstances, so don’t don’t let a clear sky stop you from being vigilant, “said Jen Moyse, Senior Product Manager at TripIt.

You can check the punctuality percentage of your flight when you book.

Federal regulations require airlines to share flight punctuality data on their websites. So when planning your trip, you can usually see how often a given flight arrives on time. Naturally, you might want to pick one with a higher on-time percentage.

If you can’t easily find this data on the airline’s website, there are other places that publish this information, including FlightAware and FlightStats.

The US Bureau of Transportation Statistics website also offers airline and airport delay statistics to give you a better idea before purchasing your ticket.

It is important to know your rights.

Even though traveling by plane makes you feel like a cow in a herd, you actually have rights as a passenger. The Department of Transportation website describes your rights in the event of a delay at the airport or on the tarmac.

“Fortunately, there are rules related to delays on the tarmac, or passengers stuck in a plane waiting on the tarmac,” Moyse said. “Planes are required to allow passengers to leave an outbound or return plane after three hours for domestic flights and four for international flights.”

Passengers are also entitled to up-to-date information about their delays from the airline, so feel free to find out what is going on if you think it’s been a while since you’ve heard from the airline. update.

You might be entitled to the money.

“When I think of flight delays and the common mistakes people make, I think of the number of times people miss the chance to get money back or be compensated,” said Susag. “Always, always look at the airline’s terms and conditions because most of the time you can still find a way to get back a lot of what you paid for when your flight is delayed. “

Indeed, eligible passengers traveling within the European Union may be entitled to compensation for flights delayed by three hours or more. Your travel insurance plan might also include compensation for delays of a certain duration, so check the fine print.

Susag also noted that airlines are obligated to reimburse in cash rather than miles or credit to the carrier, so ask for cash if you prefer that option. Depending on the circumstances, airlines may also be required to cover expenses incurred due to delays or cancellations (such as food and hotel accommodation).

Additionally, some travel rewards credit cards include travel delay protection, so you may be reimbursed for expenses the airline won’t cover. If you booked your trip through a third-party tour operator, pay attention to the plan you have chosen. Apps like Hopper offer plans with compensation or free reservation modification options for flights delayed by more than an hour, for example.

Delays do occur. Build a buffer zone for important travel and don’t beat up on airport workers.

Sometimes the stakes of travel are high. You could fly on a plane for your wedding weekend or try to go home for the holidays for the first time in years. In these cases, it helps to create a buffer to prevent a delay from derailing your plans.

“Try to fit some flexibility into your schedule if you can, especially for the upcoming Christmas and New Year holidays,” Damodaran said. “It’s always a good idea to schedule an extra day or so, should your trip be disrupted, to make sure you can arrive in time for the holiday festivities.”

Delays are normal, especially during peak travel season. The days just before Christmas and New Years Eve are some of the busiest of the year, and the airline industry is still recovering from a staff shortage.

“It has been an unusual year for travel with flight disruptions and changing COVID-19 restrictions,” Moyse noted. “This has led to many lively interactions at the airport and on airplanes, and an increase in the number of unruly passengers, which has impacted the overall travel experience.”

Whatever happens with your flights, venting your frustration on airport workers probably won’t make the experience any better.

“Patience is the key to dealing with the ups and downs of travel, as it will always be a little stressful to navigate the schedules and the crowds,” Moyse said. “Prepare for potential disruption and smile. “

About John McTaggart

Check Also

Independent display providers unite to launch the Outdoor Media Group Alliance

A group of independent outdoor display (OOH) vendors are joining together to create an alliance …