Some British Airways flights originating in the United States were delayed last week due to a problem with its check-in system. In August, Delta Air Lines was forced to cancel flights after a power outage crashed its computers. A month earlier, a computer glitch at Southwest Airlines left fliers in chaos.

I remember when bad weather was the usual suspect for flight delays. Not anymore. And unlike weather patterns, computer problems can strike without warning.

Is your airplane going to take off, you might wonder as you head to the airport. I’m not advocating paranoia, just preparedness.

Here’s what you can do to ease any flight delay, for any reason.

Tip 1: Call the airline to check on the status of your flight before you head to the airport. This could buy you a little more time in the comfort of your home.

Tip 2: Program your airline’s phone number into your cellphone. That way, you can be poised to call quickly to reschedule any flight that may have been canceled, instead of waiting in a long line with potentially scores of people ahead of you nabbing available seats. That said, even while you are attempting to talk to an agent on the phone, stand in line with those fellow passengers. This is called hedging your bet.

Tip 3: Have essentials with you in your carry-on, including necessary medicines, a toothbrush and a water bottle, which you can carry through security empty and fill in a drinking fountain on the other side. (Yeah, stop paying top dollar for what is essentially a free commodity.)

Tip 4: Bring ample entertainment, from downloaded movies to a great novel.

Tip 5: Finally, know the airports on your itinerary so you can hatch a plan (spa, anyone?). Use the airports’ websites to educate yourself before you get there, and see if the airports have apps that can help you navigate once you’re there. Many — including MSP — do. 

Send your questions or tips to Travel Editor Kerri Westenberg at, and follow her on Twitter: @kerriwestenberg.