Summer storms, airport congestion make July the worst time to fly

Air travelers, fasten your seat belts. The skies may be hostile for a while.

If history is any indication, we’re about to enter the time of year with the most delays due to extreme weather — as well as some of the busiest flight days ever recorded. The Transportation Security Administration recently released a new report on the timing of the flight. broke the one day record Nearly 3 million passengers have been screened, and more than 32 million passengers are expected to be screened between June 27 and July 8.

Last year, the month hit hardest by weather was July, with 7,996 delays. According to federal dataIt was the worst month for these delays since at least 2016. July was the worst month of the year by this measure in six of the past eight years.

Between June and August last year, bad weather caused nearly 20,000 delays. That’s more than the combined number of delays in the six least affected months.

Why are delays most common during summer?

transport Department defines the Extreme weather-related delays, which are caused by actual or predicted “significant meteorological conditions”, such as tornadoes, blizzards or hurricanes, that could delay or interrupt flight operations.

Delays caused by non-extreme weather are placed in another category that also includes airport operations, heavy traffic volumes, and air traffic control. Department of Transportation figures The survey shows that weather is the biggest cause of these delays – often as much as 60 per cent – ​​during the months between May and August.

Summer storms “can include lightning strikes that can disrupt airport operations, in some cases completely shutting down arrivals and departures at major airports,” said Robert W. Mann, an airport expert. Consultant And bad weather can halt traffic in busy flight corridors, the former airline executive said in an email. Such conditions are more likely and widespread in the summer than winter disruptions, making delays more prevalent in the summer, he said.

Kathleen Bangs, a spokeswoman for the flight-tracking service flight Aware And a former airline pilot said the series of storms could cause the airport to make immediate adjustments to operations, including the direction in which planes take off and land.

He said, “This does not happen in winter. Such rapid changes do not happen in such a short time.”

Some safety tips for weather-related delays

For those traveling in the summer, delays and full flights due to storms can cause additional frustration. There will probably be fewer empty seats for passengers whose flights are canceled or who miss connections, Mann said.

“A lot of people travel in the summer, so your options may be pretty limited,” said Katie Nastro, a spokeswoman for the Cheap Flight Alert service. going,

In addition, airlines’ responsibilities are also limited when delays are caused by weather. Major carriers have committed to taking certain measures for customers, such as offering meal vouchers and hotel accommodations in the case of cancellations and long delays caused by “controllable” circumstances.

“Unfortunately, this unregulated scenario gives you minimal rights,” Nastro said.

Still, no matter the reason, if a flight is canceled or severely delayed and a passenger is unable to travel, he or she has a right to a refund. When the new DOT rule goes into effect later this year, refunds should be issued automatically.

How to avoid flight delays?

Air travel experts say travelers should keep in mind a few tips for smooth travel during the stormy months.

Nastro said if people are still planning their trip — or have the ability to change an existing trip — they should take the earliest flight of the day they can find. There’s less chance of bad weather, and planes are usually waiting at the airport, so the risk of delays is limited. And if something does go wrong, passengers will have time to try to catch later flights.

Another benefit of morning flights? “You’ll almost always get a smoother trip,” Bangs said.

Travelers should take nonstop flights whenever possible, to avoid the possibility of disruption during stopovers and the possibility of missing connecting flights.

Bangs recommends checking the National Weather Service. National Forecast Chart and a Federal Aviation Administration page that Shows the status of the country’s airspace. If there is a major storm or delay where you’re headed, this may give you a chance to make alternate arrangements in advance.

“It gives you the information you need to start looking ahead,” she said. “I look at the country like a big chess board, and you can move a few steps ahead by knowing what’s going on.”

If you know before you go to the airport that your flight will be delayed, experts recommend playing it safe and arriving on time, provided the stated delay is two hours or less. If you want to stay at home, use FlightAware or a flight tracking site. Flightradar24 To track your plane’s location and make sure you’ve signed up for airline notifications.

“Be very careful about what you decide to do,” says travel analyst Henry Harteveldt, who is the company’s president. Atmosphere Research GroupSpeaking to The Washington Post last year, he said, “Ultimately, the airline is not responsible for making sure you’re on the plane. That’s up to you. When it’s time to depart, that plane is going to take off.”

Andrea Sachs contributed to this report

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Disclaimer : The content in this article is for educational and informational purposes only.

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