The plight of stranded travelers has been making big news as bad weather, mechanical problems and staff shortages keep disgruntled travelers stranded at the gate and aircraft tethered to the JetWay or idling fully-loaded on the tarmac. Sometimes the delays drag on for hours after the scheduled departure time with no word from the crew about how long it will be to wheels-up.
It’s a startling fact that there are regulations that govern how long and under what conditions an airline can stash pets and livestock in the belly of the plane, but other than watered-down “customer care” proclamations, the airlines give little consideration to the beleaguered people in the seats. Bottom line, when you buy an airline ticket, you have a seat on the plane. Whether that particular seat ever makes it to the destination you’ve booked is not part of the “contract of carriage,” because airlines don’t guarantee their schedules OR that they’ll get you where you want to go.
With this in mind, you should:
1. Have information about airline on-time performance.
2. Try to fly non-stop, avoid connections and hubs.
3. Travel light.
4. Have a back-up flight plan.
5. Go to an airport club.
Book a different airline if yours is historically tardyIf your home airport is served by a number of carriers, look into their on-time performance history. This will tell you a lot about your chances of facing delays and cancellations. If your chosen airline has a consistently bad track record, consider switching to a different carrier. Find data on the overall efficiencies (or lack of) at your home airport and a nearby alternate airport too.
Air Travel Consumer Report for the airlines that do the best job of arriving on time, keeping track of checked luggage, and accommodating booked passengers. Use FlightStats to rate specific flights based on their on-time performance. Consider flying out of alternate airports.