Flying into bad weather is asking for trouble (weather waiver)

Here is a reader submitted story and some advice on rescheduling business trips to avoid bad weather.

On a business trip from Tampa to NYC. Here was my day:

1 pm flight delayed a half hour leaving Tampa to JFK. No big deal.

Flight makes it to JFK airspace on schedule! Hooray! Pilot tells us we have to enter a holding pattern, but they prepared for this and have plenty of fuel.

90 minutes of holding, we begin our approach. Pilot suddenly makes an announcement that JFK has an equipment failure and we need to go back into holding pattern. Our plane no longer has enough fuel, we are diverted to Albany.

We refuel in Albany and push back, but then receive word that JFK is on a ground halt due to weather. Three hour delay in Albany.

We finally board the plane and push back again, but apparently Albany is a very understaffed airport and there is only one crew to de-ice the plane. It takes an additional 2 hours to prep the plane.

At this point, the pilot informs us they have been shift timed out and flight to JFK is cancelled.

As I type, Delta is coordinating buses to take us on a 3 hour trip to JFK. This is the stuff of travel nightmares.

These days, if airlines post a weather waiver for my cities and dates I just assume my flights will be monumentally mucked up. If at all possible I’ll try to move around to avoid the weather. FAR 117 (pilot duty time restrictions) and extended ground delay rules have forced airlines to be much more proactive with their response to foul weather. So we see more cancellations before and during storms but, arguably, faster/better service recovery on the other side.

It didn’t use to be this way… time was you almost had to wait around for your flight to be canceled before you could do anything with your ticket. Now, I can change, cancel and refund travel days in advance of a big storm without even having to talk to an agent.

Moral of the story… if my flight is predicted to fall inside a winter storm (or weather waiver) I’ll try to get out early, wait out the storm at my origin, or bag the trip entirely. Trying to go in the midst of it is asking for trouble.

Filed Under: Airlines + flyingBusiness travel


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