On tarmacs across the country, airplanes are increasingly being grounded. Meanwhile, in check-in lines overlooking those tarmacs, travelers are grinding their teeth, complaining loudly about delays, and even worse, not getting to their destinations on time.
You probably know what we mean, especially if you fly American (AMR), which canceled more than 3,000 flights the week of April 7, Southwest (LUV), which halted a few of their own, or Frontier (FRNT), which just filed for bankruptcy protection. Factor in rising fuel prices and stricter airline safety guidelines, and such unexpected delays will likely continue this summer. What can you do about it? Start by reading MainStreet's guide to help you go from stand still to take off.
CHECK IN EARLY
Before you leave your home, check to make sure your flight is on schedule. If you’re a frequently flyer, then you already know nothing is certain when it comes to arrival and departure times. So far in 2008, 22% of flights experienced late departures and 3% of flights were cancelled, according to the Bureau of Transportation statistics. (And don’t expect airline prices to remain stagnant simply because you are stuck: Air travel rates increased 7.6% in February!)
CHECK IN OFTEN
Keep yourself from being a long suffering customer by becoming informed. American Airlines, JetBlue, Continental are just a few major airlines that provide status notification to their costumers. Using your flight number, arrival or departure time, you can frequently save yourself from an unnecessary headache by checking the Web site of your airline before you leave for the airport.
Some fliers, usually those in first or business class, have access to V.I.P. lounges where airlines often offer assistance with booking new flights. What happens if you’re not considered a very important person by your air service provider? Some airlines might alert you on their flight status but how do you benefit if all the passengers in line are reading the same alerts at the departure gate? This is where mobile alerts come in handy. Aggregate Web sites like Flightstats and Flightaware compile data from numerous resources to alert customers of travel conditions.