The sequester cuts and resulting Federal Aviation Administration employee furloughs have resulted in flight delays. The FAA said today air traffic controllers will space planes farther apart so they can manage traffic with current staff, which will lead to delays at airports including DFW, Las Vegas and LAX. The FAA also expects delays at Newark and LaGuardia because of weather and winds.
On Monday, more than 1,200 flight delays were attributed to staff reductions.
With no immediate end in sight and the busy summer travel season fast approaching, what's a traveler to do? Cancel a planned trip? Not book a summer vacation out of fear of the "flightpacolpyse?"
Such drastic measures aren't in order, at least not yet. But if your flight is affected by furloughs, here are five coping strategies to make the wait as painless as possible.
|Check your airport, then your flight status.|
You can use the FAA web site to see if your airport -- departing and arriving -- is experiencing widespread delays on arriving or departing flights. Web sites like FlightAware.com also offer cancellations by airport that are easy to track.
Even if your airport appears to be operating normally, be sure to check your individual flight status on your carrier's web site. Says on time? Be a little wary if you noticed that your departure or arrival airport is experiencing lots of delays or cancellations. This is your clue to check back, and then check back again. The information about your specific flight may not be updated yet on your carrier's site.
|Make sure your carrier has accurate contact information|
You know the email address you gave when you purchased your flight? You know, the junk one you hardly ever check and haven't looked at since the day you purchased the flight? Check it. Or better yet, if you haven't yet boooked a flight, give the airline an email address you actually use when you do book. Why? As long as the furloughs last, the airlines will be reaching out to consumers with gusto to let them know about potential delays. It's in the best interest of the airlines to get the public riled up about this situation and gain public support, so they will be more eager than usual to share flight delay information with travelers.
Follow your carrier on Twitter and feel free to tweet your airline about your flight, even if all looks to be well. You might be surprised at how quickly you get a response -- almost always faster than the 800 number. And again, the airlines will be more transparent than usual about delays and will likely be communicating widespread delay information over social media.
|Buy an airline lounge day pass|
Already at the airport? if your flight's not taking off for quite some time, consider buying a day pass to your carrier's lounge if they have one at your airport. Typically if an airline has a hub at that airport, they also have a lounge. A one-day pass to American Airlines' Admirals Lounge is $50. A day pass to Delta's SkyClub is also $50. It may cost even less if you have an airline-branded credit card. Airline lounges typically have refreshments and light snacks, free wi-fi, plenty of comfortable seating and personal travel services. Some even have free alcoholic beverages.
If you're a frequent traveler with several flights in the coming months, consider Priority Pass: a membership gives you access to 600 airport lounges. There are three price plans ranging from $99 to $399 annually.
|Explore the airport.|
Airports are more interesting than you might think. Both San Francisco Airport and Burlington International in Burlington, Vt. offer yoga rooms. Phoenix Sky Harbor, Denver International, Philadelphia International and San Francisco all offer rotating art exhibits. Or, think about squeezing in a workout: Most airport hotels sell day passes for about $20 (the Hilton Gym at Chicago O'Hare is known to be quite nice).
Download the GateGuru app to your smart phone (free) to see every amenity -- from restaurants to shops to services -- at your departure or arrival airport gate.