The Real Lesson for Dealing With Weather and Flight Disruptions

Yesterday I shared my experiences flying through significant weather events and some lessons for dealing with them.

But I left out one of the most important lessons: avoid them in the first place. When you can possibly pull the plug on the trip before you begin, you probably should throw that option into the mix.

Wandering Aramean tweeted at me,

I still don’t believe you chose to fly in to an ice storm in Dallas. Seems like a bad decision all around.

My response was that I chose to fly the day that US Airways and America West merged their reservation systems, too!

In other words while I think I have pretty good strategies and approaches for dealing with problems as they arise, I’m probably too willing to push forward into the middle of situations that I know will get messy, in part because I think I can handle it.

(On the other hand I also tweeted my real motivation — “Delays/cancels at @dfwairport? Nah, I’m just working to establish residency at the @AmericanExpress Centurion lounge for state tax purposes!”)

But the truth is, with severe weather events as in global thurmonuclear war, the only way to win is not to play.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I think I beat Wandering Aramean to it in the comments on that post where I asked the same thing! Couldn’t you have just routed through ORD, for example, while you were still at DC, since you already knew trouble was coming at that point?

  2. Agreed: WA said it as it is. As a frequent flyer you must know the weather patterns for certain areaas. Here in Florida we have learned to avoid flights into and out of the state during the hours of 3pm and 7 pm during the months July through September because of all the “pop-up” storms. Likewise if I were to fly from MCO to HNL in January, I would try to avoid ORD, MSP, and DEN and route through CLT, PHX, or IAX/DFW. Tornadoes and strong frontal systems are terrible for the southern states during spring and summer, but most occur during afternoon and night, which is the reason I plan early morning travel into those areas. In the northeast there are certain airports and runways–like EWR–which always seem to bear the brunt of wind delays. BOS is another airport which has more extreme weather than MHT (Manchester) which is a mere 50 miles away. I know some routing is unavoidable, but with our shared expertise we can usually do better than the average person.

  3. You ever get home? Maybe you’re sleeping now. The fans are waiting for the next thrilling episode of Marooned in Dallas.

  4. I’m with WA – really seems like much of your pain was self-inflicted. If you needed to get there, routing around the storm would have been the best option. If you didn’t need to be there, canceling or rescheduling were options. Maybe you are secretly a masochist for the IRROPs experience? Thought having to book speculative non-refundable hotel rooms starts to add to the expense.

    And getting an EXP agent to notate your record? Hope you can get a complaint about that agent.

  5. I’m flying into DCA today and hoping to be able to get out tomorrow. I’m not optimistic. But this is really my only chance of getting my 10th Fairmont stay of the year so that I can get Platinum status, so WA’s option doesn’t apply to me!

  6. 6 segment run and 2 more on a separate itinerary included my weekend of 8 flights to leave my house at 5am saturday from the nw chicago burbs and end up in minneapolis in time for a nap and to get ready for work. got a great price on my 6 segment run going to sfo… and hey lunch and breakfast at the dfw lounge too! except for that little ice storm… i’ve ended up keeping 5 of the original 6 segments. so i’ll have 7 total instead of 8. only completed 3 so far. tired as hell… will hit EXP with exactly 100 segments. had only 17 at the start of june!

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