6 tips for avoiding flight delays
As the holiday travel season approaches, consider these suggestions for improving your chances of arriving on time.
These days, it's easier than ever to find out if your flight is delayed. Whether it's an iPhone app like Flightcaster or FlightTrack Pro, or the airlines' own websites or even the FAA's Air Traffic Control System Command Center, you never have to guess when you're going to get off the ground or get grounded.
But that knowledge doesn't ease the frustration of flight delays -- or the cost. The FAA and the University of California, Berkeley released a startling new survey that puts a dollar figure on those delays: $33 billion in 2007, the last year researchers could get complete data.
Of course, 2007 was before the number of flights tanked along with the economy -- about 1.3 million flights were canceled and 119,00 delayed in 2007, compared with 85,000 cancelations and 63,000 delays in 2009.
Delays cost you money
Regardless, the study put most of the extra cost on the backs of passengers. The airlines lost less than $9 billion in idle crews racking up overtime and idling planes burning jet fuel. Passengers wasted a whopping $16.7 billion because of "lost passenger time due to flight delays, cancelations and missed connections, plus expenses such as food and accommodations that are incurred from being away from home for additional time."
The rest? "Specifically, inefficiency in the air transportation sector increases the cost of doing business for other sectors, making the associated businesses less productive," the study said.
But doing what you can to avoid delays doesn't require a government-funded study. While it's impossible to account for delays caused by bad weather and planes in need of repair, there are things you can do to reduce the odds of getting stuck. Watch the following short video, then meet me on the other side for more.
Now, here's a recap of some of the above advice, with a little more detail:
Fly nonstop. Let's start with the obvious: The fewer planes you have to board, the less likely you'll be delayed. But you may pay for the privilege. While not every nonstop flight is more expensive, a USA Today study a couple years ago showed that many destinations are cheaper with a layover.
Instead, think secondary airports: Fort Lauderdale instead of Miami, Chicago Midway instead of O'Hare. The tickets may also be cheaper.
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