At the beginning of 2013, on the conclusion of my first mileage run, I wrote about how 2013 might go down in history as the year of trip delay and trip cancellation. Come to find out, I wasn’t wrong – and the Wall Street Journal’s Middle Seat Blog agrees with me. At a whole, of the airlines tracked by the Wall Street Journal and FlightStats, only 78% of flights were on time in 2013 – down a total of 2% from the year before. At the high end of that statistic, the number of flights delayed in excess of 45+ minutes increased 13%, and cancelled flights jumped 15%. You can read the entire report, and find out which airlines performed the best, on The Middle Seat at the Wall Street Journal.
So what is to blame for 2013 being known as the year of trip delay? Many of the airlines blame 2013 returning to normal weather patterns as part of the problem for the increase in trip delay and cancellation. Additional problems include systematic problems within airlines (as a result of mergers and acquisitions), as well as problems in scheduling. After having a year of good weather in 2012 (save a couple of major incidents), 2013 was heavily affected by weather situations, resulting in trip delay & cancellations. Some good news did come out of this report, however: the Department of Transportation reports less passengers complained about service, and less passengers got involuntarily bumped from flights.
With this behind us, what do we have to look forward to in 2014? If last year was any indication, we’re going to see a lot more trip delay and trip cancellation in 2014 as well. The polar vortex didn’t help us get this year off the ground with any ease, and 2014 will also see the merger of American Airlines and US Airways. If we learned nothing else from the United-Continental merger, we’ve learned that mergers always result in pains felt by the end travelers.
So how can you keep your travels flowing smoothly in 2014? Here’s how I plan on managing my flying time, and doing my part to keep my personal trip delay statistics down in the New Year:
- Pack Light and Often
Last year, necessity forced me to pack my bags and occasionally check a bag on my adventures. Lucky for me, it was free as a result of having status across many different airlines. Unlucky for me, it cost me at least one suitcase. In 2014, I plan on carrying on luggage at every given opportunity. This allows me to be flexible with my plans, change flights as soon as there are delays or cancellations, and not worry about having to getting to my destination without my luggage. Plus, with PreCheck, I’m allowed to keep my laptop and liquids in my suitcase, making the security transition easier and faster.
- Plug in my Trusted Traveler number at every opportunity
Last year, the best thing I did for my travels was getting my NEXUS card. Not only does this give me Global Access status when traveling internationally, but it also gives me access to the TSA PreCheck program, allowing me to get through the security checkpoint quicker and easier. How does this help with trip delay? If I have to switch my flights and switch terminals, then I’ve got an easier transfer through terminals (if I need one). Plus, a quicker run through security reduces the chances of creating my own trip delay.
- Go with the flow
Sometimes, despite our best planning, we can’t get around trip delay. And it’s frustrating to not be able to get through a trip delay and get to our destination (or home) on time. This is why I always plug extra time into my trips, allowing plenty of time between connections, as well as extra days should anything get misconnected along the way. By allowing extra time on my connections, I can ensure on-time connections everywhere I go – even when that means having to suffer a trip delay or flight cancellation.
Hopefully, your travels will be a little more successful than mine in 2014! Is trip delay something you’re worried about in the New Year? Or are you going to travel despite the risks of getting stranded? Let me know in the comments below!