by Elise Schoening | November 26, 2019

According to SmarterTravel, there are five major reasons why flights are delayed or canceled: extreme weather, security concerns, a late-arriving aircraft, an air-carrier issue, or a National Aviation System delay that might be caused by airport operations or heavy traffic volume. Below are five ways to prevent and manage air travel hold ups.

1. Choose an Early Flight

Some things, such as the weather, might be out of your control. But there's plenty you can do before the trip to minimize your risk of being delayed, starting with picking your flight wisely.

SmarterTravel suggests selecting an early flight. While getting out of bed before sunrise can be tough, you'll be thanking yourself later. Flights with an early departure time are less likely to be affected by delays that ripple through the system as the day goes on. Even better, they're likely to be cheaper. If you do get delayed, you'll also have more options for rerouting earlier in the day. 

2. Opt for a Nonstop Route

When buying your ticket, look for nonstop routes. Trips involving multiple flights are more likely to get delayed and there is always a chance of missing your connection.

If there's no nonstop flight for the right price, make sure to leave plenty of time between connections. SmarterTravel recommends a cushion of at least 60 to 90 minutes for domestic connections and two hours international flights.

3. Look at the Flight History

Another thing to consider before booking is whether the flight has a history of delays or cancellations. Take a few minutes to look at the on-time stats of the flight number and airline, which are available via the U.S. Bureau of Transportation and websites such as FlightAware and FlightStats

4. Avoid the Worst Airports

Find out which airlines have the most delays. According to data from AirHelp, a company that advocates for airline-passenger rights, the worst airports in the U.S. for flight delays are Newark (N.J.) Liberty International, Chicago O'Hare International and New York's LaGuardia airports. If your go-to facility makes the list, you might want to consider flying from another location.  

5. Be Proactive Before Takeoff

Read up on your rights before the day of your trip, so you know what to expect in the event of a delay and what your airline/travel insurance should cover. You'll also want to monitor your flight's status throughout the day. If your departure is significantly delayed or canceled, be proactive. Call the airline's customer-service department or talk to one of the gate agents about being rerouted. Remember to remain calm and be polite -- this will help you get on the next flight and on your way as soon as possible.