5 weather-related travel myths most flyers tend to believe

5 weather-related travel myths most flyers tend to believe

We can’t control the weather, but we can learn to deal with it more effectively.

Failure to take weather into account can make or break a trip so I’ve come up with a list of misconceptions about weather, and ways to work around the worst of it.

So if you’re worried about your trip, or just want to plan ahead, remember there’s not much truth to when people say…

Myth #1: Rain is no big deal

In some cases, this is true. You deal with it by packing a fold-up umbrella every time you travel — just stick one inside an easily accessible corner of suitcase or carry-on, right?

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Sometimes though, heavy enough rain can actually delay flights, and create other problems. For example, earlier this year, rain caused Los Angeles-area freeway crashes to jump a reported 400 percent. So anytime the weather is bad, head to the airport extra early; if you normally set aside an hour, add an extra 30 minutes. It’s not about your lack of driving skills in a storm; it’s about the shortcomings of everyone else on the road.

Myth #2: Summer is a lot nicer than winter

Unfortunately, summer is not usually nicer than winter when it comes to flight delays. According to statistics from the Federal Aviation Administration, summer is generally a bit worse than winter, and June is worst of all. The problem is thunderstorms; I’ve had pilots tell me they will fly 40 miles or more to get out of a T-storm’s way.

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Generally, pilots want to avoid the storm’s turbulence but that’s not always possible which is why pilots want passengers to stay buckled-up whenever they are seated.

Myth #3: Hurricane season is short

Not really. The National Hurricane Center says hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30. During this six month period, expect to see an average of “12 tropical storms, 6 of which become hurricanes form over the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, or Gulf of Mexico.” That’s not a vast number, but of course some years are much worse (or better) than others.

If you’ll be flying into hurricane country, keep up with the news and weather forecasts and be sure your airline has your contact information. When potential weather problems loom, airlines are very good about allowing passengers to switch travel dates without paying any kind of penalty.

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Myth #4: Tarmac delays are a reality for frequent flyers

Some people think airlines still keep passengers stuck in planes on the tarmac for hours on end while waiting for bad weather to pass, but that’s not necessarily true anymore. But while it certainly can happen, it’ss extremely rare thanks to the Department of Transportation’s decision to fine airlines for doing this (over $27,000 per passenger). If you get stuck on a plane, file a complaint with the airline and the DOT.

Myth #5: Travel insurance will fix all your weather woes

Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. What does your policy say? Unfortunately, many of us don’t know because we don’t read the fine print, and that’s a big mistake. That said, don’t even consider dinging your credit card for travel insurance before you have a complete understanding of what is covered and what is not. And don’t hesitate to compare policies. You always compare airfares to get the best deal, right? Do that with insurance, too.

And have a great trip.

Rick Seaney is an airline travel expert and the co-founder of FareCompare.com, an airfare comparison shopping site

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