How do I find flight delays?

Finding information on flight delays can be frustrating, but it’s an important part of air travel planning. By doing some research ahead of time, you can get the details you need to make your trip smoother. This guide will walk through the top ways to check for flight delay information before your travel date and ways to stay updated if delays pop up during your trip. Read on for tips and resources to find the most up-to-date details on flight delays.

Check With Your Airline Directly

Your airline should be your first stop when trying to find information on flight delays. Most major airlines have delay information available on their website or mobile app. You can search for your flight status by flight number, departure airport, arrival airport or date. This will show you the most current update the airline has on any delays.

Some things to look for when checking your flight status:
– Departure delays – This means your initial flight is delayed leaving the gate. This causes a ripple effect down the line.
– Connection delays – If you have a connecting flight, look for alerts on delays arriving to your connection airport. Missed connections due to delays can greatly impact your travel.
– Gate changes – If your flight is delayed, the gate number may get changed last minute as schedules shift around.
– Cancellations – Airlines will indicate if the flight is cancelled due to weather, mechanical issues or other problems.

One limitation of airline sites is they usually only show delays within 24 hours of departure. If you want to get a forecast further out, keep reading for other resources.

Use Third-Party Flight Tracker Sites and Apps

Third-party flight tracking websites and apps offer enhanced features beyond what you’ll get checking an airline site directly. Two popular options to consider are FlightAware and FlightStats.

FlightAware lets you track flight status in real-time as well as see delay forecasts several days in advance. Its MiseryMap shows airports impacted by weather or air traffic issues. The FlightAware app also provides push notifications on status changes for flights you’re tracking.

FlightStats is similar offering flight status, gate changes, delay forecasts and an airport delays map. It has a “Delay Index” forecasting the likelihood of delays at airports based on factors like weather, air traffic volume and typical on-time performance.

Apps like Flightradar24 and GateGuru also let you track flight delays. Having multiple tracking tools can give you the best picture of the on-time outlook for your flights.

Check the Airport Website

Don’t forget to check the website for the airports your flights are using. Most airport sites have a real-time departures and arrivals board showing flight delays and cancellations. This lets you cross-check delay information directly from the source.

Airport sites also offer delay forecasts based on their operational status. For example, you may see an alert that weather or equipment issues are likely to cause 15-30 minute delays during a certain timeframe.

While airport sites show the delays, they usually don’t provide a detailed reason for each delayed flight like the airlines and flight trackers do. But it’s still a valuable resource for confirmation on delays.

Call the Airline Directly

If you need personalized assistance, calling your airline’s customer service hotline can provide live support. Some key reasons to phone in include:

– Your flight gets cancelled – The agent can walk through rebooking options and next steps.

– You misconnect due to a delay – If you miss a connection, calling can get you rebooked faster than waiting in the airport line.

– You’re unsure about a delay forecast – Agents may have access to the latest updates that haven’t reached the airline’s website yet.

– You have special accommodations – If you need wheelchair assistance or have other circumstances, an agent can note it on your reservation.

The downsides of calling are potential long hold times and getting routed through an automated system. So weigh whether it’s worth it compared to self-service options.

Sign Up for Airline & Airport Email/Text Alerts

Another way to stay in the loop on delays is to subscribe to free email or SMS text alerts from airlines and airports. These provide proactive notifications directly to you on a flight or airport situation.

Here are some types of alerts you can get:
– Flight status alerts – Notification if your flight is delayed, changed gates or cancelled
– Airport closure alerts – Heads up if an airport shuts down due to weather or other reasons
– TSA line wait alerts – Estimate of how long the security line is at an airport
– Boarding alerts – Reminder to head to your gate when boarding starts

Some airlines even let you choose your specific flights for monitoring and set threshold times for alerts (such as if a delay exceeds 90+ minutes). These real-time notifications can be handy in spotting early delays and reacting accordingly.

Check Social Media for Breaking Updates

Airlines, airports and air travel experts frequently post flight delay updates on social media. Following them can provide breaking news faster than waiting for email/text alerts.

Some useful accounts to monitor around your travel dates:

– Your airline’s main accounts and your airport’s accounts on Twitter and Facebook
– Local airport news media handles (e.g. @DFWAirport for Dallas-Fort Worth)
– National aviation accounts like @FlightAlerts, @AirlineFlyer and @NYCAviation
– Airport lounges if you have access, such as @DeltaSkyClubs or @AmericanAdmirals
– Major air traffic hubs like @FAANews and @FlyLAXairport

Scan hashtags like #traveldelay, #airportdelay or #flightdelay to see if other travelers are reporting issues. This can uncover delays ahead of official notifications.

Use the FAA’s Airport Status Site

For operational delays directly from the source, the FAA’s airport status site lists real-time departure delays at major US airports. It breaks delays down into useful categories like:

– Volume – Delays due to high traffic volume

– Equipment – Delays from equipment failure at the airport (e.g. radar, lighting)

– Weather – Runway/taxiway shutdowns due to weather

– Other – Security, construction or other one-off issues

You can see if your airport is having issues that will likely cascade to flight delays. The site even shows average wait times for phone calls to each airport’s Air Traffic Control tower for on-demand updates.

Check with Your Airport’s Ground Transportation

If flights at your airport get delayed, that can impact pickup times for ground transportation like shared shuttles, taxis and rideshares. Confirm ahead that your scheduled pickup has been pushed back accordingly if your flight is delayed.

Some ground transport apps allow you to link your flight info. SuperShuttle, Uber and Lyft can automatically delay your pickup if they detect your flight is late arriving. This takes one hassle out of the equation.

You can also call your transport company as your arrival gets delayed to rebook for a later pickup window. Even if your new pickup time hasn’t been auto-adjusted, they can still send a vehicle at the new projected time.

For International Flights, Confirm Visa Impact

Flight delays on international trips can be especially disruptive if you’re coming up against visa deadlines. Make sure to confirm how a delayed arrival or departure may impact your ability to check in within your visa entry window.

You can contact the local embassy/consulate of the country you’re traveling to for guidance. Depending on the circumstances, they may be able to extend or shift your visa terms.

If possible, avoid planning international trips where your flight is scheduled to arrive just a day or two before your visa expires. Build in buffer time in case of inevitable travel hiccups.

Have Backup Accommodations Ready

Even if your flight is showing on time a couple days out, delays can still pop up last minute. It’s wise to keep backup hotel and transportation options handy in case you get stranded overnight.

Some ways to prepare:

– Research airport area hotels in advance and note room availability & rates

– Book hotels with free cancellation to lock in a room, while leaving flexibility to cancel if unused

– Save contact info for local taxis, rideshares and rental car agencies

– Know your credit card benefits – some cards provide free hotel stays if flights are cancelled

You likely won’t need to use your backups, but it reduces stress knowing you have contingencies lined up.

Utilize Airport Amenities During Delays

If you do wind up delayed at the airport, take advantage of amenities to stay comfortable as you wait. Most larger airports have services to help pass time:

– Lounges – Access free or paid lounge spaces offering seating, WiFi, snacks/drinks and quiet zones for napping or working.

– Restaurants – Grab a meal or shop at airport food/retail spots. Just keep an eye on gate changes.

– Fitness centers – Some airports like SFO, DEN and PHX have gyms to stay active.

– Spas – Treat yourself to a massage at airport spas like XpresSpa if available.

– Sleep pods – Rent a nap pod for some private downtime and recharging at hubs like ATL, IAH and SFO.

– Entertainment – Check airport maps for game/TV areas, live music stages, art displays and indoor green spaces.

Taking advantage of amenities can make flight delays less painful. Apps like LoungeBuddy simplify airport perk finding.

Be Proactive Rebooking Flights

If faced with long delays or a cancellation, roll up your sleeves and start looking at rebooking options right away while seats are available.

– Check alternate airports – Widen your search to all airports within a few hours’ drive of your destination.

– Search nearby dates – Expand to a few days before/after your original dates.

– Consider connections – A flight with stops may have availability even if direct routes are full.

– Check alternate airlines – Don’t limit yourself just to your booked airline.

– Use flight credit if you have any – Take advantage of future flight credits from previous cancellations/delays if applicable.

The sooner you find an acceptable option, the better in getting booked before rebooking floods airline sites. Don’t wait for an agent to do the work for you.

Know Your Compensation Rights

When lengthy flight delays or cancellations happen, airlines are required to provide compensation and assistance per Department of Transportation (DOT) rules.

Here are key things to keep in mind if hit by major delays:

– Over 3 hours domestic – Airlines should provide food/snacks, drinks, access to communication and fee-waived rebooking.

– Overnight domestic – For overnight delays, hotels and ground transportation should be covered.

– Over 4 hours international – Food, communication access, hotel/transportation and rebooking assistance apply.

– Cancellations – Ask about full refunds and reimbursements for costs caused by cancellations.

– Claim forms – Airlines must provide claim paperwork if you qualify for reimbursements. Know the filing time limits.

Know your rights as a traveler and don’t hesitate to push airlines to fulfill required assistance. Being informed on DOT rules strengthens your case.

Sample Flight Delay Compensation Request Letter

Airline Name
Airline Address

Re: Flight Delay Compensation for [flight details]

Dear Sir/Madam:

I am writing regarding flight [flight number] from [origin] to [destination] on [date]. This flight experienced extensive delays due to [reason].

As a result, I incurred the following expenses:

– [Hotel costs: $XX]
– [Meals: $XX]
– [Transportation: $XX]

Per Department of Transportation regulation 14 CFR Part 259, I am eligible for compensation under the Airline Customer Service Plan as this delay exceeded 4 hours on an international arrival. Please reimburse me for these costs which I incurred due to the delay.

Enclosed is a copy of receipts documenting the expenses. Please provide me with any claim forms required to receive reimbursement. I can be reached at [phone and/or email] to confirm you have received this letter and discuss next steps.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. I look forward to your reply.

[Your name]
[Your address]

Consider Trip Insurance For Future Flights

While airlines have minimum requirements on assistance for delays, having comprehensive trip insurance can provide extra safeguards. policies cover costs that airline compensation may fall short on.

Some potential benefits of trip insurance during flight delays:

– Hotel + meal reimbursement if the airline’s coverage cap is low

– Ability to rebook flights on your own schedule, then file claims after

– Compensation for lost prepaid reservations like tours, events and car rentals.

– Reimbursement for essential purchases like toiletries and clothing if bags are delayed

– Cash allowances for incidental costs

Just be sure to read the full policy details so you understand exclusions and claim limits. While insurance increases the cost of a trip, it can provide peace of mind.

Pack Smart To Handle Delays

No matter how much you prepare, flight delays can still ruin your perfect packing plan. Make sure your carry-on bag is ready for extended time at the airport or overnight stays.

Essentials to pack in your carry-on:

– Extra underwear and socks

– Outfit for multiple days (tops, bottoms, pajamas)

– Toiletries like toothbrush, contacts, medications

– Phone charger and battery pack

– Snacks and empty water bottle (to refill post-security)

– Eye mask, earplugs, neck pillow

– Laptop, books, magazines as entertainment

Having backup essentials minimizes what you’ll need to purchase or borrow if bags get delayed.

Be a Savvy Traveler Overall

While flight delays are often unavoidable, you can take some general steps to reduce chances of getting stranded mid-trip:

– Avoid connections when possible – Direct flights have less risk.

– Book early morning flights – Delays build throughout the day.

– Use carry-on only – Checked bags may miss flight if delayed.

– Don’t book tight layovers – Give buffer time for transfers.

– Avoid risky weather seasons like winter storms.

– Depart a day early for important events like cruises.

– Leave buffer days in longer trips in case you get stuck.

– Travel during less busy flying days like Tuesday/Wednesday.

– Join airline rewards programs for rebooking priority

– Pay for preferred seats for earlier deplaning

Proactive planning goes a long way to averting and handling flight delays!


Flight delays happen to even the savviest travelers now and then. By having the right tools and tactics, you can get the information you need both before and during your trip to handle delays smoothly.

Check airline, airport and flight tracking sites for real-time delay status. Set up alert notifications through airlines and transportation providers. Have backup accommodations ready if delayed overnight or stranded.

Most importantly – know your rights if flights are cancelled or severely delayed. Airlines have obligations on providing meals, hotels, refunds and rebooking assistance.

Staying informed, proactive and organized makes it easier to roll with the punches of flight delays. Safe travels!