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Flying US Airways over the holidays? Bring a good book

The AP has reported that US Airways is anticipating a 60-percent on-time departure rate this holiday season—which means that 40 percent (or 1,400 flights per day) are expected to be delayed.

To further lower expectations: The airline also “hopes that no more than seven bags are mishandled per 1,000 customers.”

Nearly half of all flights expected to be delayed? A hope that just seven bags per 1,000 are mishandled? With performance standards like these, it’s no wonder forecasters are predicting this holiday season to be among the worst in recent years.

The (small) silver lining is that if your flight is delayed on its departure, it may not necessarily arrive late. US Airways spokesperson Morgan Durrant noted that pilots can make up time in the air, so even if you get delayed at the gate or on the runway, you may still get to your destination on time.

Let’s take a realistic approach, however. With delays already prevalent, bad winter weather not far off the horizon, and more travelers than ever, you’re probably going to have some extra time to kill at the airport.

If you’re flying with US Airways over the coming weeks, the best preparation may be mental. You won’t be able to plan around a delay, but you can make your experience less stressful. Bring plenty of fun diversions—a good book or magazine, portable DVD players or video game systems, and extra money for snacks and drinks once at the airport—to make any extended time at the airport go as smoothly as possible. If you can pack light, bring a carry on, so you won’t have to worry about your bag being among the unlucky “mishandled” group.

And here’s hoping other airlines step up with higher standards.

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