These Expert Booking Tips Will Help Travelers Avoid Flight Delays

These types of flights have the best on-time performance.

Nothing ruins a vacation quite like a delayed flight, a missed connection, or a lost bag. But  thankfully, there are booking tricks travelers can use to at least minimize the chances of having one of these issues.

Aerial view of airplanes at an airport and runway

Johannes Mann/Getty Images

One of the best ways to ensure your flight takes off on time is to book it in the early morning, Scott Keyes, the founder of, shared with Travel + Leisure. These flights have a 20 percentage point higher on-time performance than flights later in the day, partly because the plane is often waiting at the airport overnight.

"While there's no way to control thunderstorms or predict meltdowns, that doesn't mean travelers are completely helpless," Keyes told T+L. "There are two types of flights that have the best on-time performance: early morning flights and/or nonstop flights."

In fact, last year, 86 percent of 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. flights arrived on-time, compared to just 66 percent of 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. flights, according to Going.

And if the flight is nonstop, then it's even better. That's because delays are actually far more likely to happen than even cancellations and if a traveler misses a connection, they may not be able to salvage their travel plans easily. According to Going, travelers with connecting flights are at least six times more likely to see a major disruption in their travel.

Or as Keyes put it, "a 2-hour delay just means arriving 2 hours late, whereas a 2-hour delay on a connecting flight could mean a missed connection and a long wait to get to your final destination."

The advice comes amid the fallout of Southwest's Christmas week meltdown in which thousands of flights were canceled and passengers stranded. Since then, United States senators are working to expand air passenger protections and Southwest’s chief operating officer testified in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. 

Last summer, the Department of Transportation put together an interactive dashboard that details airline policies on everything from rebooking to hotel accommodations, and more, but most policies are typically up to the individual airlines. The DOT requires airlines to issue refunds if a flight was canceled.

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