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http://www.newsdoy.com/travel/outwitting-air-travel-delays-1.2577640Outwitting air travel delaysOriginally published: December 30, 2010 2:17 PMUpdated: December 30, 2010 2:19 PMBy ED PERKINS Tribune Media ServicesStranded travelers, many waiting since Sunday, take refugeFILE - In this April 16, 2010 file Flight tracker Sunflowers bloom at Pindar Vineyards in Peconic in Day trips on Long IslandEven in good weather, air travel can be iffy. You will get to your destination,but your arrival time is not reliably reflected by the time stamped on your boarding pass. During the winter and storm seasons, it can be even more of a gamble,as we saw last week.During the remainder of the winter, if you're planning a trip that involves heading to or passing through a bad weather area, the watchword is simple: anticipate. Here are eight "rules" of winter travel.1. PAD YOUR SCHEDULEBalance the possibilities of delays or cancellations against the importance of arriving on time. If you have a "can't miss" meeting or celebration, pad your schedule to allow for a major air travel snarl. That may even mean traveling a fullday early.2. AVOID HUBBINGTry to arrange nonstop flights. Even if most flights from your home airport to destination airports require connections, consider driving up to several hours ateither end of your trip to catch nonstop flights.3. AVOID TROUBLEIf you can't avoid hubbing entirely, at least minimize the risks by routing yourself through a hub not likely to encounter severe winter weather. During the first quarter of the year, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston and Phoenix generally reportlowest percentages of late arrivals. Despite lots of snow, Denver and Salt LakeCity also do pretty well - at least they know how to cope with heavy snows. Eventhough it's in the South, Atlanta doesn't do quite as well as other Sunbelt hubs. You can't avoid New York airports - but the dishonor roll extends to Chicago's O'Hare and San Francisco. For travel to Europe, Washington's Dulles is a better winter gateway bet than airports to the north, and Los Angeles beats San Francisco for travel to Asia.4. SCHEDULE FLIGHTS TO MINIMIZE RISKSDelays and cancellations have a domino effect throughout the day. Avoid tight hub connections. On most routes, book yourself on flights as early as possible - the later in the day, the worse any situation gets.5. CHECK THE FORECASTSYou can sometimes spot delays before your airline officially lets you know aboutthem. That means keeping tabs on weather forecasts several days in advance forany airport you plan to use - departure, hub or destination. Especially check inbound arrivals at any originating airport where you plan an early-morning departure: If the plane can't get in the night before, it won't be there for your morning departure.6. KEEP IN TOUCH WITH YOUR AIRLINEThese days, airlines may "proactively" cancel flights to avoid upcoming problems. And they often waive change penalties several days before an anticipated storm.7. HAVE A PLAN BFigure that something might go wrong, and be ready with your own suggested alternative schedule rather than wait to see what your airline offers. The earlier you start to change, the more likely you are to avoid extended delays. In any major weather event, your airline is likely to waive re-ticketing fees, so be ready. 8. USE A TRAVEL AGENTDuring bad weather, your departure or hub airport will likely be a madhouse, with thousands of travelers trying to find alternate flights. Instead of standing in line at a customer service desk, have an agent working on your deal as soon as
a problem arises.No matter what, you can't avoid all problems. But at least you can minimize therisks. Anticipate.***http://www.smartertravel.com/travel-advice/do-la-carte-airfare-prices-really-save-you-money.html?id=6395676~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ss

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