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Travel Tip: How to Avoid Delayed Airlines

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The airlines will tell you that they’ve had their best performance in years, but we have to put that into perspective. And that knowledge will help you avoid delays.

Airline performance has improved, that’s true. It’s the result of fewer flights, airlines padding their schedules and the new tarmac delay rules that fine airlines for long delays. But there are things that are within your control even before you leave home.

It’s not just the airline you fly, but what time of day you depart. Flights are more likely to depart on time early the morning, say between 6 am and 9 am. By mid-day, those on-time rates drop dramatically.

It also depends on what time of day your flight arrives. Again, morning is your best bet.

The Department of Transportation also reports the worst flights by route. Between July and September of this year, chronically delayed flights included Alaska Airlines between Portland and San Francisco, which was late more than 67 percent the time; and Southwest between Denver and San Francisco,

That’s when you want think creatively about alternate airports—SFO has all those delays because of the fog…but nearby Oakland and San Jose don’t have the same problems.

For more information, visit the Airport & Airline archives.

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