Monday, July 15, 2013

Top 5 Tips to Improve Your Odds of Avoiding Travel Delay

Flying nowadays has become a real challenge.  Airlines have optimized flight schedules, plane types, demand modeling, and pricing to ensure that just about every seat is filled.  Airports now sprawl across multiple buildings; sometimes in multiple locations.  And for the traveler trying to arrive at their destination, any slight upset in this environment can mean a missed flight, delayed arrival, a night in a hotel, or worse, a night in the airport.

While there are no foolproof ways to ensure that you will arrive where you're travelling on time, there are some things the you can employ to improve your odds of getting where you're headed as soon as possible: 

  • Fly in the Morning - This is just a function of simple math: the earlier you fly, the more options you have during the day in the event you need to re-book due to something going wrong.  Likewise, weather tends to be less severe during the morning hours, hence morning travel give you the best chance of avoiding weather-related travel delays (and the ripple effect those delays cause).
  • Pay For Premium Seating - Some airlines offer the ability to pay a fee to set closer to the plane's exit.  When connections become tight, that extra ten minutes you gain by exiting the plane quickly can mean the difference of making your next flight or rerouting.  
  • Get the App - Download and use the app of the airline that you're flying.  It will provide you with the most up-to-date information on your flight schedules and departure gates.  Immediately launch it upon touch down and you will know exactly where to go and what to do before the plane has stopped taxiing.  No more wasting critical minutes looking for monitors or asking questions.
  • Fly Through Hubs - When faced with choices of where your flights will connect, always take the flights that connect through major hubs of the carrier you're taking on the next flight.  Hubs are where the planes are stored and serviced, so if the plane you're supposed to take develops a mechanical issue, there is a full mechanical crew to work on it and/or additional planes that can be called into service.  Likewise, many pilots and crew live in hub cities, which also affords better chance to work around situations where the crew for a given flight is delayed or has worked their legal shift.
  • Know Your Geography - There may be times where you become delayed for an extended period, however you may be only a couple hour car/bus ride from your destination.  By knowing where you're at and it's proximity to where you need to be, you can give yourself options.

Clearly there will be times and conditions that cause delays - some simply can't be avoided.  But by employing the above, you mitigate your chances of being delayed.

Good luck!

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