Frustrated airline passenger

This has been a tough year for airline passengers. Almost every client we have has experienced flight cancellations, changes and/or delays. After taking billions from the federal government you would have thought we’d have a better system. But we don’t. The airlines laid off, furloughed, or gave early retirement to too many of their employees. To make matters worse, they added new routes and services while knowing full well that they didn’t have the staff to support their schedule. That is just unacceptable!

So what is a traveler to do? Well, there are steps to take to avoid cancellations. Let’s take a look at them:

  1. Check on-time flight performance – Before booking a flight, check its on-time performance especially if you have connections. My favorite site is Flight Stats. It has a clear box to check on a flight’s historical flight performance.  Flight Aware is a good second choice for researching performance. If you have a tight connection on a flight with poor on-time performance, it is probably better to book a later connecting flight.
  2. Select on direct or non-stop flight – Many of today’s problems are with connecting flights. The airlines have booked themselves to nearly full capacity, which means if a flight is canceled, your chances of getting a seat on the next flight or even the next day’s flight is not very good. Non-stop flights might cost more, but you’ll avoid missing connections or canceled connections. If you select a “direct flight” check to make sure it is non-stop. Some direct flights make a stop but continue on with the same flight number to another airport. Always verify a direct flight is non-stop.
  3. Choose the earliest morning flights possible – The first flights out in the morning are the least likely to be canceled. The later you fly, the higher your chance of having at least one leg of your flight canceled. In many airports, storms occur more during the day than early morning. Storms near major hubs cause delays and cancelations. A bonus – early morning flights are typically cheaper, so not only are you more likely to get to your destination on time, but it will cost you less.
  4. Select hubs depending on the time of year – Where and when possible, avoid flying into hubs during the times of the year when they are more likely to experience bad weather. Avoid Phoenix, Dallas & Atlanta during the summer months, while avoiding Denver, Chicago, and New York airports in the winter.
  5. Book flights for the middle of the week – There are fewer travelers on Wednesdays and Thursdays. The leisure travelers select Friday – Sunday for travel while the business traveler books more Monday & Friday days to travel. Fewer travelers on Wednesday and Thursday means less crowded airports and planes.

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