Minimize airport hell
Three strategies for defeating delays.
(MONEY Magazine) -- More than 200 million people will take flights this summer, the busiest travel season in more than five years, according to the Air Transport Association. All the more reason to take every advantage available.
Here are a few ways you can minimize airport hell.
Summer thunderstorms tend to develop in the afternoon. Add this season's record number of travelers, and you're looking at Delay City. Fly before 9 a.m. and your chances of waiting it out at the gate plummet.
Bonus: If your morning flight is scrapped, you'll still have afternoon options, while afternoon fliers may have to wait until the next day.
Check in online
A person who checks in at a terminal kiosk needs to be at the airport as much as two hours before departure. If you check in online and print your boarding pass at home, you can show up at the gate as little as 15 minutes before departure. You'll appreciate that when you are sitting in traffic on the way to the terminal.
Bonus: Airlines release preferred frequent-flier seats 24 hours before a flight. Check in at home and you can be one of the first to snag a better row.
Spot the delays
You can get information on security wait times from the TSA (waittime.tsa.dhs.gov) and on airport and airline delays from the FAA (fly.faa.gov).
But FlightStats.com, a new, free Web site, offers one-stop shopping for all that data. It tracks flights in real time, and provides more complete information than you'll find at other sites.
Bonus: Sign up for FlightStats' electronic travel alerts - text messages or e-mails - that warn you about delays and cancellations before you leave for the airport.