How to improve your chances of avoiding a flight delay due to the weather

It can pay to get an early start, and other expert tips.

Logan Airport
–Pat Greenhouse / The Boston Globe

When booking flights, it pays to pay close attention to the time of day to attempt to avoid delays, experts say.

Boston-based Delta Air Lines flight attendant Kristen Clary, who has been on the job for five years, said catching the first flight out reduces the chance of delays due to inclement weather.

“I’m not a morning bird, so I know that can be painful for some people,” Clary said. 

But keep in mind that delayed flights due to bad weather can impact subsequent flights, she said. 

“You’ll be less impacted by those storms if you get an early start,” Clary said.

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“I would whole-heartedly agree,” said Brian Walsh, an American Airlines flight attendant for the past three years who is based in Washington, D.C., about grabbing that first flight out to avoid weather delays.

Kevin Lemanowicz, chief meteorologist at Boston 25 News, said the “vast majority” of thunderstorms happen in the afternoon and evening hours.

“You are definitely better leaving in the morning anytime you can — in the summer months especially — because of the potential for severe weather in the afternoon,” Lemanowicz said.

But snowstorms? You’re on your own.

“There’s no time of day when we can say, ‘Oh it’s better now to leave because it won’t snow during this time of day,'” he said.

Booking daytime flights, however, can help to avoid delays due to ice, Lemanowicz said.

“Temperatures drop when the sun goes down,” he said. “So, again, you’re better off leaving earlier in the day once the sun comes up and starts to warm things up a bit as opposed to leaving at night. Because once the temperatures drop more, then you can get a bigger problem with freezing temperatures and freezing precipitation that may be out there.”

Another way to stay on schedule is by strategically booking connecting flights, Walsh said.

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“Don’t book the flight that has the bare-minimum connection,” Walsh said. “Always plan to have a little padded time for any type of delay, especially when we’re coming up into the winter months.”

That way, if the first leg of your flight experiences a delay, you’re less likely to miss your connecting flight, he said.

But, there’s no way around it — winter travel into and out of New England can be tricky, Lemanowicz said.

“Just book it and go for it,” he said. “You can’t control the weather, so control your plans and hope for the best.”

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