Thursday, December 24, 2009

AccuWeather's Flight Planning Tools

If you have never been to AccuWeather's Flight Delay Tool, you are missing a great resource for being proactive when dealing with the airlines.

I just did a screen capture of the indexes for O'Hare and Orlando.  As you can see, Orlando is no problem.  O'Hare on the other hand, has a high chance of delays redeveloping today.  At right are links to additional information.  You can get information here that will usually give you a better idea of what will happen than the information from the airlines.  For example, the airlines will list a flight six hours from now as "on time" even when serious delays are likely.

If you have read my airline travel strategies repeated here with additional advice about waivers here.  Waivers are already in effect for this storm, even in regions where snow or ice haven't begun falling.  

Lets say you have ticket on Delta/Northwest from St. Louis to Washington, D.C. via Minneapolis on Saturday.  With waivers, you can call Delta and say, "reroute me through your Memphis or Atlanta hubs" and you won't have to deal with a potential mess due to the heavy snow in Minneapolis.

Or, lets say you were going from Wichita to Washington via Chicago on United Saturday. I will go out to the airport armed with this information and say, "please send me through Denver (even though it is out of the way) rather than through the snow in Chicago" and they will usually do so.

I'd rather fly two extra hours changing planes in a hub without weather problems than risking huge delays and hassles by flying into a major storm.  And, when waivers are in effect, the airlines will usually go along because they don't want to have to deal with any more upset passengers than necessary.

When it comes to winter storms and airlines, proactive is better.  Arm yourself with information then ask them to go along with your request.  It usually works.

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