How this will play out over the busy holiday travel season will depend largely on Mother Nature. Extreme weather can cripple the system. According to data from the Air Transport Association, weather is responsible for as many as two-thirds of all delayed flights. Just under one-third were due to air-carrier delays, such as maintenance or crew issues, which are matters the airlines control. Interestingly, less than one percent of delays were due to security reasons. That slice of the pie could increase if security alertsand their attendant measuresremain high through the second half of the year. .
So whats an air traveler to do?Try to avoid times with potential for bad weather, such as early morning in the Pacific Northwest, for fog, and late afternoon in the East, for summer storms. Book intelligently: be aware of flights and airports with bad track records. Ask the reservationist for the flights on-time record (Congress requires that airlines provide it), or visit the Bureau of Transportation Statistics Web site (www.bts.gov), which has a searchable table of on-time records. Finally, assume you might be delayed, and dont book too close to an important event. Like a cruise departure. Or Thanksgiving dinner.