8 Secrets About Flight Delays You Need To Know Before Your Next Trip

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

If you don’t want to too often, you might think that the situation is completely out of your hands, and you will end up sinking into discomfort and uncertainty. But there are ways to reduce the risk of facing a flight delay, or at least knowing when they will come, to make the experience less stressful.

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

You can follow your plane.

It is useful to download the mobile app of the airline with which you want to receive notifications about changes and delays at the doors even before they are announced on the airport screen. But you can also use it to track the journey of your plane before it arrives at your airport and anticipate possible delays in your flight.

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

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

“FlightAware and Flightradar are two of my favorites, and you can keep track of where your flight came from and where it is right now, which I think is a lot of fun to be able to see your plane in real time,” he said. Travel. blogger Esther Susag. “Besides, just checking the status of your flight from the plane by a simple Google search can also be a lot more informative than you think.”

Earlier flights are less likely to be delayed.

“Subsequent flights, which depend on the crew and potentially the same aircraft from an earlier segment, are more likely to be delayed,” said Adit Damodaran, an economist in the Hopper Travel Booking application. “In other words, a delayed early flight can have a ‘ripple effect’ in which later flights are also delayed. We recommend that you always book the first outbound flight, if you can, to avoid the impact of early delays. time of day “.

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

“If I wanted to fly from DC to Chicago tomorrow, I could book a flight at 6:45 am from Dulles and see the plane arrive from Los Angeles at 12:45 am,” said Willis Orlando, senior specialist. Scott’s product operations. Cheap flights. “The plane is scheduled 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. At 13:00, my plane would arrive just an hour earlier, and the chances are high that there will be a delay due to weather problems, personnel problems, mechanical problems. “

Of course, morning flights are not immune to delays and other problems. But even if something happens with your flight in the morning or ends up being canceled, you will usually have many more options to get to your destination on the same day, while a flight is canceled in the afternoon or evening. it often means having to go there. at home or at a hotel and return to the airport the next day.

Flying non-stop also offers better odds.

In addition to booking a flight in the morning, you can also try to avoid delays by opting for stops whenever possible.

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

The non-stop option can cost more money, but you don’t have to go to so many airports and gates. You can also avoid worrying about losing your connection if your first flight is delayed. If you want this peace of mind and can’t stand the delays, it’s worth paying a little more.

That said, it is not always a non-stop option. In these cases, you can be strategic about your scaling options with time and location. Try to spend at least an hour between flights. You should also try to connect through a city with many flights to your final destination.

“Choose a route that is offered several times a day,” Orlando advised. “That way, your chances of booking another flight quickly are better.”

Take into account the climate of the centers when planning your trip.

SimonSkafar via Getty Images

Take into account the climate of the centers when planning your trip.

Paying attention to weather patterns can help.

Another way to keep up with flight delays is to think about the weather. This also affects your choice of flight connections.

“If you fly through a major U.S. airline and you have to make a stopover, they have hubs in both hot and cold places,” Orlando explained. “So with United, you could connect to Chicago or Houston. The wise choice would be Houston in the winter to avoid snow in Chicago and Chicago in the summer to avoid possible tropical storms in Houston.”

As your journey gets closer, you may want to pay attention to the weather patterns at your departure and arrival airports and along the flight path. Being aware of bad storms in advance can help you anticipate possible delays, especially during the holidays, when winter storms are a concern.

Weather problems in other parts of the country can also have a cascading effect on flights to the U.S., including places that are not directly affected. And of course, time is not the only reason for delays.

“Please note that even in clear weather conditions, airlines may still face delays and cancellations as a result of disruptions on incoming flights, personnel problems, technical problems or other unforeseen circumstances, so don’t let the clear sky stop you from being vigilant, “said Jen Moyse, TripIt’s senior product manager.

You can check the punctuality of your flight when booking.

Federal regulations require airlines to share performance data for one-off flights on their websites. Therefore, when planning your trip, you can usually see how often a particular flight arrives on time. Understandably, you may want to opt for one with a higher punctuality rate.

If you can’t easily find this information on the airline’s website, there are other sites that post this information, such as FlightAware and FlightStats.

The U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics website also provides statistics on airline and airport delays to give you a better picture before you buy your ticket.

It is important to know your rights.

Even if air travel makes you feel like a cow in a herd, you actually have rights as a passenger. The Department of Transportation’s website describes your rights during a delay at the airport or on the tarmac.

“Fortunately, there are rules related to asphalt delays or passengers trapped on a plane waiting on the tarmac,” Moyse said. “Aircraft must allow passengers to depart from an outbound or inbound aircraft after three hours for domestic flights and four for international flights.”

Passengers are also entitled to receive up-to-date information about their airline delays, so feel free to check out what’s going on if you think you haven’t heard an update in a while.

You may be entitled to money.

“When I think about flight delays and the common mistakes people make, I think about how many times people miss the chance to get their money back or make up for it,” Susag said. “Always, always look at the terms and conditions of the airline, because most of the time you can always find a way to get back a large part of what you paid for when your flight is delayed.”

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

Susag also pointed out that airlines are required to make the refund in cash instead of miles or credit with the airline, so ask for cash if you prefer this option. Depending on the circumstances, airlines may also be required to cover the cost of delays or cancellations (such as food and hotel accommodation).

In addition, some travel rewards credit cards include protection against travel delays, so you may be reimbursed for expenses that the airline will not cover. If you booked your trip through a third-party travel planner, pay attention to the plan you have chosen. Apps like Hopper offer plans with compensation or free booking change options for flights delayed by more than an hour, for example.

Delays occur. Build a buffer for important trips and don’t take it off the airport workers.

Sometimes the bet to travel is high. You may be flying on your wedding weekend or trying to return home for the first time in years. In these cases, it is useful to create a buffer to prevent a delay from derailing your plans.

“Try to make some flexibility in your schedule if you can, especially for the upcoming Christmas and New Year holidays,” Damodaran said. “It’s always a good idea to book an extra day or so, in case there are interruptions to your trip, to make sure you can arrive on time for any holiday.”

Delays are normal, especially during the peak travel season. The days just before Christmas and New Year are some of the busiest of the year, and the air travel industry is still recovering from staff shortages.

“It has been an unusual year to travel with flight interruptions and changes to COVID-19 restrictions,” Moyse noted. “This has led to many heated interactions at the airport and on planes, and an increase in rebel passengers, which has affected the overall travel experience.”

Whatever happens to your flights, getting rid of your frustration with airport workers will probably not make the experience more enjoyable.

“Patience is key to managing the ups and downs of travel, as it will always be a bit stressful to navigate schedules and crowds,” Moyse said. “Get ready for possible interruptions and smile.”

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