Most travelers wrongly assume there’s nothing they can do to alleviate flight delays due to weather or mechanical problems. That’s true some of the time, but not all the time. These tips can help lessen your chances of booking a flight that may be delayed.
- Book nonstop flights — Don’t be fooled by the words “direct flight.” If it doesn’t say “non-stop,” the flight makes more than one stop. Rule of thumb: The more stops the flight makes, the more opportunities for it to be delayed.
- Fly early in the day — Fly before 4 p.m., otherwise stock up on reading material. Give yourself some leeway by arriving at the airport well in advance of your flight’s anticipated departure time. When you plan ahead, there is another bonus: Your stress level should decrease drastically.
- Fly midweek — At most airports, travel is lighter on Tuesday and Wednesday compared with Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
- Avoid major hubs — If you’re flying to and from major hubs, you might avoid delays if you book flights at nearby secondary airports. Get in the habit of looking at different hubs before you buy tickets. For example, Newark, LaGuardia, and Dallas/Fort Worth airports were among the country’s worst for having flight arrival delays, having more than 21% of flights running late or being cancelled.
- Obey carry-on restrictions — Avoid delays at the airport by obeying current rules for carry-on items from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Speed up security lines by packing carry-on bags so they’re easily accessible to hand searches.
- Sign up for your airline’s text or email alerts — If there are delays or cancellations, the alerts will go out to your phone even before the gate announces them.
If your flight goes from delayed to cancelled, don’t go to the gate counter to rebook. Standing in line can delay you further. Instead, contact the airline’s customer service department by phone or with your laptop to rebook. Remember to be polite to the agent, since taking your frustration out on them won’t make rebooking go any faster.
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