The first round of furloughs has kicked in, increased security at many airports is still in effect after the Boston Marathon bombings, and delays, unsurprisingly, are up. Here's how to cope as a flyer:
When You Book
Book Early-Morning Flights: Since delays tend to have a ripple effect as the day progresses, early-morning flights are a good bet if your goal is to arrive on time. And if your early-morning flight is canceled, you'll have the rest of the day to try to rebook.
Book Nonstop: Every flight connection is another chance for a delay. Trim connections and you'll boost your chances of arriving at your destination on time. And while a direct, nonstop flight isn't always an option, when it is, the potential time benefits are often worth a slightly higher price tag.
Book Long Connections: If you can't fly nonstop, make sure to give yourself enough time to make it to your connecting flight. With longer security lines and fewer airport personnel, making your way through the airport is simply slower. Changing terminals—and re-clearing security—to catch an ongoing flight takes an even bigger bite out of your connection time. So budget wisely.
Before You Leave
Monitor Your Flight: Keep tabs on the status of your flight even before you start your trip. If you are going to be faced with a dramatic delay, it's better to know before you race to the airport. Use a flight-status tracking app, check with your airline, or browse current delays on the airport's website.
Check In Online: Skip the line at the airport and check in online before you head to the airport. Even better, if you can travel with just a carry-on, you'll avoid waiting in airlines' often-slow baggage-drop lines.
At the Airport
Get to the Airport Early: Increased security means slower lines, and that means you'll need to budget more time to make your way from the airport's sliding glass doors to your departure gate. In line for security, help the line go faster by removing the appropriate items of clothing in advance (shoes, belts, jackets, etc.), separating your quart-sized bag of toiletries, and pulling out any laptops.
Download a Last-Minute Hotel-Booking App: More delays and cancellations means there's an increased chance you'll find yourself stuck in a city overnight. And chances are you won't be the only one scrambling for an airport-adjacent hotel room at the last minute. Beat the crowds by outsmarting them: Add a last-minute hotel-booking app or two to your smartphone so if you do need to grab a hotel room you can do it fast.
Have Your Airline Contact Information Handy: If your flight is delayed or canceled, your fastest option is often to skip the long line at the airport counter and call the airline directly. Be prepared to beat the rush by having your airline's toll-free number on hand.
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