Entrepreneur's travel wiz is back with advice for handling that bane of every nervous traveler's existence: flying into a storm.
While there is sadly nothing we can do to control the weather at this point in time, these are some steps you can take to mitigate your suffering and reduce the chance of having to spend the night sleeping on the floor of an airport.
1. Book early flights whenever possible.
Flight delays typically get worse as the day progresses, so best to get ahead of it whenever possible. Also, being at the airport early gives you access to more options like alternative flight times and flights with connections to avoid storms in destination cities.
2. Realize that airlines cannot predict the future.
Questions like, "When will it clear up enough for us to take off?" are best left to fortune tellers and TV weather people, neither of which have a clue. Asking (and re-asking) airline employees will not get you the answer you need, and in super-bad conditions, will get you dirty looks.
3. Sign up for text alerts from your airline.
Airline notifications (gate changes, delayed flights, etc.) come via texts almost immediately, and allow you to make changes ahead of the crowd. Don’t rely solely on gate announcements and airport signage, you sheep! And just like that last blind date, never bet that they will call you.
4. Install your airline's app.
Before you get to the airport, make sure you’re logged in and have a credit card on file. Don’t be a dinosaur—they went extinct for a reason. The airline app is usually your best chance to rebook and find alternatives when you need them most. Unless you feel the need to listen to an hour of music on hold, there is no need to call the airline during a hurricane. Download Spotify instead.
5. Check airport status on both ends of your flight.
You can use this FAA page and many others like it to see what delays are happening here and what delays are happening where you're headed.
6. Have a plan B and C.
If you’re headed into a potential weather disaster, have a rental car booked at your destination and at any layover airports. Most rental car reservations have no penalties for canceling, and having a car to drive out of a potential disaster zone is priceless. Hotel rooms will also be at a premium, so having a hotel booking app installed on your phone guarantees you won’t be sleeping on an airport floor for days if things really go sideways.
7. Stay by the gate.
When there are cascading weather delays, things change very rapidly. The gate is where everything happens, for better and for worse. I’ve seen flights open up, board and take off in the blink of an eye when there’s a momentary break in the weather. Being by the gate is your best chance of getting out.
8. Search Google for your flight number.
Pop your flight number into Google on your phone and you will get a beautiful, mobile-friendly page that tells you tons of info about your upcoming flight. Share that link with significant others or anyone meeting you as it’s the best way of communicating flight status in real time.
9. Stay charged.
Have a charger and a portable charger in your carry-on bag. Without a charged mobile phone, you're in 1978—and with no pay phones. Keep your phone charged in the airport and on the plane so you can communicate and adjust. Even in a blackout, cell towers still function. You need to function, too.
10. Prepare to be stuck in your seat.
During bad turbulence, I’m the one with my hands over my head like I’m on a rollercoaster, but I still prepare. Have everything you need on your person (charger, phone, etc.) because you may not be able to get up and go into your overhead bin mid-flight. Go to the bathroom before the flight, and pro-tip: don’t eat a massive meal or come on the flight super drunk. The worst part about throwing up during turbulence is that there is no one to help you for a long time, so you’ll have to marinate in your stupidity.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors.