It’s summer and everyone is traveling. Well, at least it seems that way. There have been lots of stories of travelers having to postpone trips or getting stranded for days due to delays and cancellations.
I have a few tips for those that are brave enough to travel over the next few months or more likely, have to travel during this period because of school vacations.
1. Keep an eye on your reservations. While airlines are supposed to keep you updated if your reservation is canceled or there are changes, it doesn’t always happen. If your trip is a month away, check once a week to make sure you keep up with any changes or cancellations. If it’s in a week or less, start checking daily.
2. Keep an eye on the weather forecast. 10-14 day forecasts aren’t super reliable but as you get within five days, look at the forecast for your travel days to see if storms are forecast for the departure and arrival airports. Be proactive about changing your flight if the airline publishes a weather waiver. This leads directly into my next tip.
3. Book morning flights, as early as you can manage. Summer storms can happen anytime but are much more likely in the afternoon when the heat of the day causes them to flare up. This is especially true for Florida and big hubs in the South like Atlanta and Charlotte. Yes it stinks to get up at 4:30am for that 7am flight but it’s better than being stuck on the runway for 2 hours while a storm slowly rolls through. Earlier flights might also lead to shorter lines and less crowding at the airport which brings me to my next tip.
4. Take advantage of TSA PreCheck and Clear. Many credit cards offer a credit for the signup and renewal fee for TSA PreCheck/Global Entry. If you haven’t done this yet, what are you waiting for? At many airports, it will reduce your waiting time and save hassle at the scanner (keep your shoes on!) Global Entry interviews are harder to schedule so sign up for PreCheck if you need access sooner. You can also have your Global Entry interview on arrival if you are traveling internationally. Clear is a great benefit at a more limited number of airports but helps you cut the line at security and can work well in conjunction with PreCheck. The Amex Platinum cards have a credit toward this fee as well.
5. Once you’re on your way to the airport, track your flight on Flight Aware or similar apps and websites to make sure there are no unforeseen delays. You can also track your incoming aircraft and make sure it’s still arriving on time.
I hope these tips are helpful as you navigate a difficult summer of travel. If you are traveling, I hope you have a great time and get to and from your destination with a minimum of hassle.
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