6 Tips to Avoiding Flight Delays


What's Hot


2 Types of Black Marks Might Vanish From Your Credit File SoonBorrow

6 Ways the Obamacare Overhaul Might Impact Your WalletInsurance

7 Dumb and Costly Moves Homebuyers MakeBorrow

This Free Software Brings Old Laptops Back to LifeMore

Obamacare Replacement Plan Gets ‘F’ Rating from Consumer ReportsFamily

Beware These 12 Common Money MistakesCredit & Debt

21 Restaurants Offering Free Food Right NowSaving Money

17 Ways to Have More Fun for Less MoneySave

House Hunters: Beware of These 6 Mortgage MistakesBorrow

30 Household Uses for Baby OilSave

25 Ways to Spend Less on FoodMore

Nearly Half of Heart-Related Deaths Linked to These 10 Foods and IngredientsFamily

5 Surprising Benefits of Exercising Outdoors in WinterFamily

10 Ways to Save When You’re Making Minimum WageSave

Boost Your Credit Score Fast With These 7 MovesCredit & Debt

7 Painless Ways to Pay Off Your Mortgage Years EarlierBorrow

The Most Sinful City in the U.S. Is … (Hint: It’s Not Vegas)Family

The True Cost of Bad CreditCredit & Debt

10 Companies With the Best 401(k) PlansGrow

This Scam Now Tops ID Theft as the No. 2 Consumer ComplaintFamily

6 Stores With Awesome Reward ProgramsFamily

6 Ways to Save More at Lowe’s and The Home DepotSave

6 Healthful Treats for Your DogFamily

New Study Ranks the Best States in the U.S.Family

Thousands of Millionaires Moving to 1 Country — and Leaving AnotherGrow

Strapped for College Costs? How to Get the Most From FAFSABorrow

6 Overlooked Ways to Save at Chick-fil-AFamily

Ask Stacy: What’s the Fastest Way to Pay Off My Mortgage?Borrow

Where to Sell Your Stuff for Top DollarAround The House

8 Ways to Get a Good Price on a Shiny New AutoCars

Ask Stacy: How Do I Start Over?Credit & Debt

Secret Cell Plans: Savings Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint Don’t Want You to Know AboutFamily

30 Awesome Things to Do in RetirementCollege

14 Super Smart Ways to Save on TravelSave

The Rich Prefer Modest Cars — Should You Join Them?Cars

You’ll Soon Pay More to Shop at CostcoSave

10 Ways to Save When Your Teen Starts DrivingFamily

There's nothing more frustrating than rushing to the airport only to find that your flight has been delayed. Here are six tips to keep that experience to a minimum this travel season.

These days, it’s easier than ever to find out if you’re 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 economy tanked along with the number of flights – about 1.3 million flights were canceled and 119,00 delayed in 2007, compared to 85,000 cancellations and 63,000 cancellations in 2009.

But researchers know the economy and the airline industry will eventually rebound, and the delays with it. As it is, their 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 through jet fuel. Passengers wasted a whopping $16.7 billion because of “lost passenger time due to flight delays, cancellations 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 like bad weather and planes in need of repair, if you follow these simple steps, and you’ll save some aggravation and some money…

1. 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 is more expensive than a connecting flight, a USA Today study a couple years ago showed that many destinations are cheaper with a layover.

2. Fly early

The earlier the better, but definitely before dinnertime. Delays are like dominos – one leads often leads to others, sometimes throughout several airports around the country. Also, if you’re flying on the East or Gulf coasts, earlier usually means better weather – storms usually hit later in the day. And whatever you do, try not to book the last flight of the day, because if that one gets canceled, you’re obviously without options.

3. Fly midweek

Weekend travel is for amateurs: families, screaming kids, vacationers. Business warriors know to fly during the week, but especially on the lightest days – Tuesday and Wednesday. Added benefit: less-crowded airports, so you get through security faster and can grab a meal quicker.

4. Be original

Ever hear of an “originator flight”? Basically, that’s the first flight out of the gate at a specific airport on that day. In other words, it’s not coming from somewhere else and being turned around.  Originator flights aren’t going to be delayed because a previous flight was. So how do you find these wonders? Simple, just call the airline and ask if the flight originates in your city.

5. Shun hubs

Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York are great cities, but lousy airports if the goal is to avoid delays. That’s because they’re hubs, with hundreds of flights arriving from around the country before being routed to their destinations. Sheer math tells you that a few delayed flights can ripple through the entire airport.

Instead, think secondary airports: Fort Lauderdale instead of Miami, Chicago Midway instead of O’Hare, Newark instead of New York’s Kennedy or LaGuardia. While secondary airports may put you farther from your destination, the tickets may be cheaper and you may avoid delays from busier airports.

6. Be part of the solution

For years, the airlines have insisted the biggest flight delays are their own passengers. I’m sure you’ve seen passengers trying to cram luggage that’s obviously not carry-on into an overhead bin. Or forget to take off their shoes, coat and belt. While those delays may be measured in seconds, multiply that by 1.5 million of passengers a day and that adds up to real delays. If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

For more on how to save on air travel, check out Airfares Take Off – 6 Tips to Land Savings and 4 Tips to Book the Right Travel Insurance.

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

I know... every site you visit wants you to subscribe to their newsletter. But our news and advice is actually worth reading! For 25 years, I've been making people richer without making their eyes glaze over. You'll be glad you did. I guarantee it!

💰🗣📰

Read Next: Ask Stacy: What’s the Best Way to Borrow?

Check Out Our Hottest Deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 2,060 more deals!