“We are currently in hour 12 of our 14-hour flight delay,” the e-mail from Claire Flitsch began. The New Prague native now living in Brooklyn was flying from JFK to MSP with her boyfriend. Fellow gate-bound passengers included parents who had run out of diapers for infants, a man worried about missing his mother’s funeral and a traveler finishing up a 30-hour sequence of flights. I could sense her building frustration. Can you imagine enduring such a scenario?
I think you should try.
June, when congestion and thunderstorms converge, is the worst month for flight delays, not winter months, as we Minnesotans might reasonably think. A study by milecards.com, which analyzed information from the Department of Transportation, found 75.4 percent of flights arriving on time in June from 2010 to 2015, compared with 83.9 percent during the best month, September, and 77.4 percent for January.
Travelers need to be prepared for delays. That means bringing food, medicines, lots of diapers and flying a day or two before important events.
Morning flights help, since summer thunderstorms often pop up in the afternoon. Consider your airline, too. Flitsch was flying Sun Country; with a mere 22 airplanes, the airline lacks flexibility. Of course, even Delta’s 800-plus fleet couldn’t help it effectively move travelers in April. About 4,000 flights were canceled when unexpected thunderstorms hit Atlanta during a busy spring-break week. Some fliers were delayed for days.
They suffered more than Flitsch. She waited a full 16 hours before she, her boyfriend and those babies with dirty diapers took off at 3:30 a.m.
Sun Country gave Flitsch an airline voucher worth $200. At the time, she scoffed at the idea of getting on one of their planes again. She now concedes she will, given the low prices and her voucher. She said recently, “We made it out OK; everything is fine.”
Send your questions or tips to Travel Editor Kerri Westenberg at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow her on Twitter: @kerriwestenberg.