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What time to go to airport when you know flight is delayed

What time to go to airport when you know flight is delayed

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Old Dec 21, 18, 6:16 am
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What time to go to airport when you know flight is delayed

I think I am a reasonably experienced and savvy traveler (I'm GM or higher [or equivalent on United] for 15 years) and feel like a bit of a rube for asking this, but I will anyway. I'm on DL5737 this morning (SNA-SEA). I just received notice that the scheduled departure time of 11:26 AM (6 hours from the time I am writing this) has been delayed to 12:38 PM.

So the question is this: does this mean I can time my arrival at the airport as though the flight time is 12:38 PM? If it matters, I will be checking one bag. I'm staying at a hotel that is basically within walking distance of SNA, so one thing I could consider doing is taking my checked bag over there as though the original departure time were in effect, give it to Delta, and then return to the hotel, and then return to SNA closer to flight time.

Once in a while you'll read about cases where announced delays are later rescinded, so you should be at the airport and at the departure gate "just in case". If that's true, then is there really any point to all that "check with your airline before you go to the airport" advice that you'll hear on the news when there's, say, a moderate snowstorm? Or, put another way, when I learn well in advance that my flight will be delayed, what am I supposed to do with that information?

Thanks in advance for any responses.
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Old Dec 21, 18, 6:28 am
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At an outstation like SNA you're pretty safe arriving as if your scheduled departure time is whatever the delay says (maybe arrive 10-15 minutes earlier than usual in case they end up turning quicker than expected). At a hub you're gambling because they may do a plane swap - but at an outstation there are generally no plane swaps to do so the updated departure time is safe.

Use a service like FlightAware and track the inbound flight. Right now your inbound hasn't even taken off - I would go back and check around 10 AM PST after the flight is likely to have taken off. Your flight won't be able to leave until that flight arrives + about 30 minutes - so that is your barometer for when you need to be at the gate.
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Old Dec 21, 18, 6:44 am
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At least for domestic, in terms of a checked bag, the delayed departure time "resets the clock" as to the cutoff time.

Echoing ethernal's post, BDL is my home airport, so when an inbound is delayed from DTW/ATL/MSP, there's a pretty minimal chance that anything is going to change, so I don't bother rushing to the airport. All of the BDL ticket agents have said that when that happens, I'm in the clear to drop the bag off later, as long as it's by the cutoff before the delayed departure time.
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Old Dec 21, 18, 7:26 am
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I disagree. In this instance. There is not enough information. The original departure is six hours away.

If the inbound aircraft's current delay is moved up for any reason, OP may be SOL. If this were an inbound from a 14-hour flight, it would be a safe assumption at this point. But, for what amounts to just over a one-hour delay, some or all of that could be made up by a mechanical taking a bit less time, the boarding taking less time, enroute time made up, and the turn at SNA being more efficient than usual.

So, without knowing the inbound information and the reasons for the current delay, I would not delay.
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Old Dec 21, 18, 7:36 am
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If it were me, I would probably show up as if I still had the 11:26 departure, but remove any of the buffer time I usually build in.
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Old Dec 21, 18, 7:40 am
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Originally Posted by Cledaybuck View Post
If it were me, I would probably show up as if I still had the 11:26 departure, but remove any of the buffer time I usually build in.

I don't think this is good advice. The risk is that the plane is in fact on time, and presumably you add in buffer time to make sure you make it if there is an on-time departure. You can't be half in and half out.

If the inbound is delayed (and it is already in the air so you know it is truly delayed and not fixable), then you are safe to arrive late (and add in your regular buffer time - if not a bit extra in case they can turn the plane in early)
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Old Dec 21, 18, 7:48 am
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Originally Posted by ethernal View Post

I don't think this is good advice. The risk is that the plane is in fact on time, and presumably you add in buffer time to make sure you make it if there is an on-time departure. You can't be half in and half out.

If the inbound is delayed (and it is already in the air so you know it is truly delayed and not fixable), then you are safe to arrive late (and add in your regular buffer time - if not a bit extra in case they can turn the plane in early)
I guess what I am saying is I would time it so I show up at the gate when boarding is supposed to start for a 11:26 departure. I am someone who is usually there way too early. The plane is probably going to be late, so that is my new "buffer", but I will be there early enough that I won't miss the flight if it is on time.
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Old Dec 21, 18, 7:55 am
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All about risk tolerance. What if the flight is overbooked and at risk of oversale. In that case, DL may offload you at T-15 (from the original flight time) and slot in an overbooked passenger to avoid the oversale and ensuing IDB/VDB. Only OP knows how important it is to make this flight.
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Old Dec 21, 18, 7:56 am
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I agree with Cledaybuck. I have had flights "delayed" and later they were moved back up to their original time. Airlines have a buffer built in to their flight times also and sometimes a problem isn't as bad as they initially thought. Personally, I would hate to miss a flight because I received a delay notice that turned out to be wrong. I still would try and be at the gate by the original boarding time.
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Old Dec 21, 18, 8:03 am
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Originally Posted by Cliff358 View Post
I agree with Cledaybuck. I have had flights "delayed" and later they were moved back up to their original time. Airlines have a buffer built in to their flight times also and sometimes a problem isn't as bad as they initially thought. Personally, I would hate to miss a flight because I received a delay notice that turned out to be wrong. I still would try and be at the gate by the original boarding time.
I agree with this. For a posted one hour-ish delay, I wouldn't even begin to do the math regarding what time I needed to arrive at the airport, especially since you're checking a bag and need to clear out of your hotel room, anyway. I'd arrive at my usual time.
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Old Dec 21, 18, 8:54 am
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At an outstation, the key for me is to track the inbound equipment. If I can do that with reasonable surety, I will not go to the airport until the delayed departure time. In your example, I'd look at the entire DL SNA schedule and in doing that find that Compass operated E75s only come in from SEA (SLC/ATL/MSP/etc are all on other equipment). The morning SNA-SEA has already departed thereby eliminating that E75 as a possible replacement for your delayed flight. This means that the very first E75 available for your flight will be the morning SEA-SNA (inbound DL5737). Having that knowledge, I would simply track the inbound flight and make sure I'm at the gate a few minutes prior to its arrival. Note I did not say at the announced delayed departure time, but rather a few minutes prior to the arrival of the inbound. Most airlines** try and make up as much time as possible so if the inbound arrives earlier than expected, they will depart earlier than announced. Obviously the airline could do something unexpected like bring in an E75 from somewhere else, but the chance of that is remote enough (IMHO) as to discount it as a possibility. If I had done this same analysis and found an E75 arriving from SLC around the same time as the original departure time, I would be at the airport at scheduled departure time. They could easily decide last minute to use that plane to go to SEA on-time and delay a different flight. Obviously, all of this goes out the window at a hub as equipment swaps are feasible and frequent.

All the standard warnings apply - YMMV, DYODD, etc. This advice is worth the price you paid for it.

**I say "most" airlines because as an AA regular now, I've found that AA sometimes will stick to an announced delayed departure time regardless of when the inbound shows up. Recently at DFW, an inbound a/c was coming in from Florida and there was a large weather system en route. The flight aware track had them going a LONG way around the storm, hence our delay. The pilots were able to find a path through the storm and they ended up arriving at the gate around an hour before our delayed departure time. Very annoyingly, gate agents sat there for 30 minutes and started boarding 30 prior to the delayed time - UGH.
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Old Dec 21, 18, 8:59 am
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Originally Posted by Cory6188 View Post
At least for domestic, in terms of a checked bag, the delayed departure time "resets the clock" as to the cutoff time
Is this true? I've asked @Delta and called Delta before in similar situations and been advised to arrive at the normal time because the baggage cutoff time is tied to the original departure time. Perhaps there is a specific delay amount that triggers the change?
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Old Dec 21, 18, 9:03 am
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Originally Posted by Duke787 View Post
Is this true? I've asked @Delta and called Delta before in similar situations and been advised to arrive at the normal time because the baggage cutoff time is tied to the original departure time. Perhaps there is a specific delay amount that triggers the change?
Totally possible that the agents at BDL are going rogue, but anytime it's happened to me, they've said it's no issue. I wonder if Delta is telling people that via phone/Twitter so that the average flier doesn't roll the dice with getting to the airport and then end up missing their flight. Put another way, for the sake of argument, let's say your flight is delayed 4 hours. Does DL really require that you check the bag 4.5 hours prior to the new departure time, so you can sit around the airport endlessly, or else you're SOL?

On the other hand, international departures (especially at an once-a-day outstation with contracted staff and a temporary ticket counter position) could be an entirely different story - I've never tried to find out the hard way on that one.
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Old Dec 21, 18, 9:49 am
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Originally Posted by jjglaze77 View Post
At an outstation, the key for me is to track the inbound equipment. If I can do that with reasonable surety, I will not go to the airport until the delayed departure time. In your example, I'd look at the entire DL SNA schedule and in doing that find that Compass operated E75s only come in from SEA (SLC/ATL/MSP/etc are all on other equipment). The morning SNA-SEA has already departed thereby eliminating that E75 as a possible replacement for your delayed flight. This means that the very first E75 available for your flight will be the morning SEA-SNA (inbound DL5737). Having that knowledge, I would simply track the inbound flight and make sure I'm at the gate a few minutes prior to its arrival. Note I did not say at the announced delayed departure time, but rather a few minutes prior to the arrival of the inbound. Most airlines** try and make up as much time as possible so if the inbound arrives earlier than expected, they will depart earlier than announced. Obviously the airline could do something unexpected like bring in an E75 from somewhere else, but the chance of that is remote enough (IMHO) as to discount it as a possibility. If I had done this same analysis and found an E75 arriving from SLC around the same time as the original departure time, I would be at the airport at scheduled departure time. They could easily decide last minute to use that plane to go to SEA on-time and delay a different flight. Obviously, all of this goes out the window at a hub as equipment swaps are feasible and frequent.

All the standard warnings apply - YMMV, DYODD, etc. This advice is worth the price you paid for it.

**I say "most" airlines because as an AA regular now, I've found that AA sometimes will stick to an announced delayed departure time regardless of when the inbound shows up. Recently at DFW, an inbound a/c was coming in from Florida and there was a large weather system en route. The flight aware track had them going a LONG way around the storm, hence our delay. The pilots were able to find a path through the storm and they ended up arriving at the gate around an hour before our delayed departure time. Very annoyingly, gate agents sat there for 30 minutes and started boarding 30 prior to the delayed time - UGH.
Why all the hard work? Simply go to flightaware.com and click where is my plane.

AS for AA They print out the new time on any BP issued. Thus if you checkin after delay is posted, your BP has the new time. Thus they have to wait.
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Old Dec 21, 18, 9:55 am
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
I disagree. In this instance. There is not enough information. The original departure is six hours away.

If the inbound aircraft's current delay is moved up for any reason, OP may be SOL. If this were an inbound from a 14-hour flight, it would be a safe assumption at this point. But, for what amounts to just over a one-hour delay, some or all of that could be made up by a mechanical taking a bit less time, the boarding taking less time, enroute time made up, and the turn at SNA being more efficient than usual.

So, without knowing the inbound information and the reasons for the current delay, I would not delay.
Not in this case. You know the plane is coming from SEA. If they change it out with another plane, you know it's coming form most likely another hub or maintenance base. SNA is neither for Compass. Also, SEA had delays due to wind on that day. The best bet is to see when the inbound flight leaves and get to the airport at a time that makes you comfortable based on when that plane is due to land at SNA.
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