Flight delays occur for a variety of reasons and they can be a real pain depending on how important it is that you get where you are going on time. While travel delay coverage with your travel insurance plan can provide some comfort if a delay over a certain number of hours (depending on the plan) occurs, avoiding the flight delay is, of course, the best scenario.
According to travel experts, here are the best recommendations for avoiding flight delays:
- Early is better. When booking your flight, remember that the early flights are less subject to the ripple effect that can occur when flights in another region of the country are delayed, thus causing delays in other areas as the day goes on. Just like at the doctor’s office – book the first flight and you’re more likely to get out on time.
- Know the stats. Some airports have more traffic than others and are more susceptible to delays simply due to the volume. The U.S. Department of Transportation publishes monthly air travel consumer reports that include statistics on flight delays – by carrier, by airport, and by scheduled time. For example, see the Air Travel Consumer Reports for 2011. Even more detailed information is available on the Bureau of Transportation Statistics website at https://www.bts.gov/programs/airline_information/.
- Check the weather. If there’s a problem with weather, your flight could be delayed and knowing ahead gives you the time to make alternative plans or choose other options. Check the airline’s website to find out if the departure time of your flight is compromised. Posting flight delays on their websites is now required by law. Calling ahead is the least effective strategy because the airline simply doesn’t want to be on the hook for telling you not to show up on time.
- Know the airline’s policies. Each airline has their own policies about what they can and will do for delayed passengers and contrary to popular belief, the airlines are not required to compensate passengers for real or perceived damages when flights are delayed.
- Sign up for mobile notifications. Most airlines and booking sites offer automated flight status notifications that can be sent to your phone.
Because travel delays come in a variety of shapes and sizes, having travel delay protection can help you with reimbursement for unexpected meal and lodging expenses as well as a few extras: some plans even reimburse you for transportation costs and movie rentals! See our review of travel delay coverage and which policies deliver this protection.