If you have an upcoming flight, you’re probably worried about an airline’s cancellation or delay. With reason. Airlines canceled a record number of flights in June, and on the face of it, they’re just getting started.
A new prediction from Aerology indicates that there is a 3 in 5 chance that air traffic delays will be more frequent in July and August than in the past two months. The second week of August will be particularly prone to delays, he warns.
“Travel is definitely tough,” says Mike Hallman, CEO of air medical transport and travel safety company Medjet. “Pilot shortages, staffing shortages, air traffic control center staffing issues and struggling finances are wreaking havoc on the reliability of the airline industry.”
You may not be able to stop cancellations and delays. But there are a few websites that will help you manage travel disruptions. They will help you track flights, forecast your flight weather, rebook your flight, and even book a replacement hotel or rental car.
Track your flight
FlightAware, a site that helps you track flight delays, is a go-to for travel professionals.
“I use Flightaware.com quite often to track flights,” says Nicole LeBlanc, trip planner at monVOYAGE. “I track my departing flight as well as the inbound equipment serving the flight I actually booked. The site is also very handy for getting a general picture of delays at any particular airport.”
FlightAware also publishes a “Map of Misery” of US flight hubs, showing the most delayed airports. Here’s one from this week:
Another site worth checking out is OAG’s FlightView. It allows you to view a live view of your flight and track its progress. The site lets you manage your flight itineraries, access arrival and departure boards, and stay informed about airport delays. He also has access to the weather forecast for your flight.
Flightradar24, another flight tracking site, has one of the most sophisticated user interfaces. Keishi Nukina, who blogs about aviation, likes the site. “It shows the status of an incoming flight,” he says. “That then gives me an idea of whether my flight has a chance of leaving on time or not – in other words, if the incoming flight is delayed to the point where my flight’s stated departure time would be impossible to respect.”
Get flight weather
The Weather Channel site receives rave reviews from air travellers. “I’ve tried many other apps and sites over the years, but The Weather Channel generally gains in accuracy,” says Nicole Gustas, director of marketing for an insurance company. She likes being able to set multiple locations in the app.
“I usually start checking my next destination three days in advance,” she says.
AccuWeather also displays flight weather for specific cities. It focuses on factors such as rain, cloud cover, and wind gusts to generate its forecast.
Another go-to resource for anyone concerned about weather delays is the US government’s Aviation Weather Center. It identifies areas of weather disturbances on an interactive map. A new version of the site will soon be available. You will need to know some aviation jargon to process certain information. But the map can provide an overview of all weather disturbances – no meteorology course required.
Get help with your flight
Several websites will help you if an airline cancels or delays your flight. FlyersRights.org, an organization that helps airline passengers, has a comprehensive section on its site that displays delays and cancellations. It includes advice on how to get compensation. You can also call its hotline at 877-FLYER6 or email [email protected] if you have an airline issue.
Travelers United, another airline consumer organization, also has a long list of articles that explain your passenger rights.
I run a non-profit organization that helps air travellers. If you’re stuck somewhere and need help, I have a team of defenders who could help you out for free. Here’s how to join us.
If you’re traveling to Europe and your flight is disrupted, try AirHelp, a paid service that helps travelers get compensation under EU laws. That’s the recommendation of Axel Hernborg, CEO of discount travel site Tripplo. “They have an extensive network of law firms in 30 countries dedicated to helping air passengers around the world,” he said.
Find a last minute hotel or car
There are hundreds of websites that can offer last-minute car, hotel, or flight rentals. A site like HotelTonight is remarkable. It’s well-reviewed and offers exclusive inventory online and through its app.
But I hope you never have to come to that. You will be informed of the cancellation or delay well before it happens, and you will make other plans.
If you need a last minute set of wheels, you can also try Car Rentals Savers last minute specials. But note that car rental rates are still abnormally high. Still, the site promises a 10% savings over comparable rates on Hotwire and a 30% savings on Expedia.
So what if your flight has been canceled or delayed?
Airline cancellations and delays are happening with increasing frequency. These sites can help you see disruptions before they happen, manage them when they happen, and get back on the road. I also post guidance on your rights when your airline cancels or delays your flights or denies you boarding on my consumer advocacy site.
Conclusion: keep calm and bookmark these sites. You’re much less likely to spend the night at the airport if you do.