Experts say there are steps you can take to minimize the possibility of wasting time at the airport. Here are some of them:
*Fly early in the day.
* Take nonstop flights.
* For indirect flights, avoid hubs, particularly Newark, Chicago O'Hare, Atlanta, and Dallas-Fort Worth.
* Check flight status before leaving for the airport by calling the airline or checking the FAA Web site (see below).
* Ask the airline if there are any weather-related delays in the system.
* Join frequent-flyer club - even if you don't fly often. Gate attendants often respond more favorably to requests from frequent flyers.
The Web ways:
Federal Department of Transportation (www.dot.gov/airconsumer). Reports on:
* Airline (and airport) on-time records.
* Numbers of flight delays, cancellations, 'bumps,' and missed connections by carrier.
* Which regularly scheduled flights arrive late 80 percent or more of the time.
* Complaints by airline.
Federal Aviation Administration (www.fly.faa.gov). Latest delay information for major airports around the country.
FlightTracker (www.flighttracker.com). A real-time tool that lets subscribers check FAA radar data to track flights (about $1 per query).
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