Winter flying in USA/Canada

Old Jun 11, 04, 8:06 am
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Winter flying in USA/Canada

If I do all of the 6 NA segments of a DONE4 during jan/feb, is the weather likely to be a risk factor? Not in FLA or CAL, surely, but what about further north? I mean, missing connections, being fog/snow bound, cancelled flights, etc.

All these fun events are easy enough to deal with on a point to point trip, and I'm not particularly worried about them, but with a RTW with 20 segments things could get nasty, no?

I've been to NA many times, but never in winter, so would appreciate the advice of the local guys.
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Old Jun 11, 04, 8:18 am
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Originally Posted by Viajero
If I do all of the 6 NA segments of a DONE4 during jan/feb, is the weather likely to be a risk factor? Not in FLA or CAL, surely, but what about further north? I mean, missing connections, being fog/snow bound, cancelled flights, etc.

All these fun events are easy enough to deal with on a point to point trip, and I'm not particularly worried about them, but with a RTW with 20 segments things could get nasty, no?

I've been to NA many times, but never in winter, so would appreciate the advice of the local guys.
Honestly no. There are very, very few days when a major US airport closes for snow.

Think about this. UA has a hub in Denver and Chicago. American has a hub in Chicago. Northwest has a hub in Detroit and Minneapolis. US Air has a hub in Philadelphia. If snow was a serious factor then the US air transport system would not function.

Last edited by millionmiler; Jun 11, 04 at 8:46 am
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Old Jun 11, 04, 10:16 am
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But having said that, Chicago does seem to have bad days... I had to reroute a mileage run through the US on the fly in February when delays at ORD resulted in me missing a connection at SFO. Cost be a couple of thousand miles in the end, though fortunately I managed to reroute in a way that got me to my JFK-HKG flight in time.
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Old Jun 11, 04, 10:49 am
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Originally Posted by christep
But having said that, Chicago does seem to have bad days... I had to reroute a mileage run through the US on the fly in February when delays at ORD resulted in me missing a connection at SFO. Cost be a couple of thousand miles in the end, though fortunately I managed to reroute in a way that got me to my JFK-HKG flight in time.
That's what I mean. Does the carrier (AA, say) normally help you with the rerouting/reticketing in these cases or do they tell you go fly a kite and talk to the TA who sold you the ticket?
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Old Jun 11, 04, 11:41 am
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Originally Posted by Viajero
That's what I mean. Does the carrier (AA, say) normally help you with the rerouting/reticketing in these cases or do they tell you go fly a kite and talk to the TA who sold you the ticket?
They almost always will help you out if its going to be a significant delay. If you are elite or have access to Admiral's Club, its a little easier as those agents are not as overwhelmed. I have more trouble with delays due to weather in Chicago in May & June than in the winter. When those midwest thunderstroms hit, it just messes up the air traffic in almost the entire country (ORD and MSP usually get hit at the same time). Over the last 4 weeks, I've been hit with this, but have always been able to get around ORD somehow.
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Old Jun 11, 04, 12:45 pm
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Not much experience with the OWE (did a couple soon after they came out, none for a long time) but I would speculate that reroutes caused by weather delays constitute involuntary rather than a voluntary changes, and therefore segment limits are not applicable. Of course the downside of an involuntary change is that you tend to have to take what's offered, even if it is less than ideal. You might find some interesting info here and here which I found after a brief search.
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Old Jun 11, 04, 2:02 pm
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It seems to me that unless you have some particular reason to be in Chicago, you should try to avoid it as a transit point if you are operating on a tight schedule. There are many delays generated by Chicago during winter months. I have always opted for DFW that time of year and, so far at least, have managed pretty well.
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Old Jun 11, 04, 4:30 pm
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Originally Posted by hvd
It seems to me that unless you have some particular reason to be in Chicago, you should try to avoid it as a transit point if you are operating on a tight schedule. There are many delays generated by Chicago during winter months. I have always opted for DFW that time of year and, so far at least, have managed pretty well.
I'd agree with that. Quite apart from snow and ice, CHI has a problem with wind (yes, I know). I read a post here from someone who was obviously in the industry who said that because of the runway configurations at ORD and MDW and their respective traffic patterns, if the wind blows from a certain direction the planes would be flying into each other and so they have to dramatically cut down aircraft movements to fit them into available traffic positions. I will try and find it and post the link.
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Old Jun 11, 04, 7:35 pm
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Originally Posted by hvd
It seems to me that unless you have some particular reason to be in Chicago, you should try to avoid it as a transit point if you are operating on a tight schedule. There are many delays generated by Chicago during winter months. I have always opted for DFW that time of year and, so far at least, have managed pretty well.
There was a snow-shower in DFW on Feb. 14, which caused delays of a few hours. I was flying SJU-DFW on my way to SFO and was able to change my DFW-SFO flight to an "earlier" flight that was delayed, but still allowed me to arrive in SFO before my originally scheduled flight. (n.b., I seem to recall that the weather was fine in ORD that day.)

When traveling on a RTW ticket, it is always a good idea to have a "Plan B" for the entire journey. The weather is only one of many potential factors that can affect your trip.
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Old Jun 11, 04, 11:28 pm
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When I was messed up at ORD, the lady in the Flagship Lounge their was extremely helpful, looking for all sorts of rerouting possibilities. My original routing was ORD-SFO-JFK-PHX-JFK-HKG... with the SFO-JFK being the overnight transcon. I had to use the JFK flight back to HKG because I had stored luggage there on my way into the US since I didn't want checked bags on a 6 segment mileage run. Withoutthe luggage I would have had much more freedom.

Unfortunately the ORD-SFO (which was an extension of a LHR-ORD flight IIRC) required an equipment change at ORD and the incoming equipment was delayed and delayed with the result that although I had originally something like a 2.5 hour transit at SFO it seemed very unlikely I would make it.

I worked on it with the lady (I seem to remember her name was Sheila) at the FL for an hour or so, and the best we came up with was for me to take the delayed ORD-SFO and hope that it made up a little time (forecast arrival was 10 mins after departure of the SFO-JFK). But the plan B was that I could get the later SFO-DFW then DFW-PHX to pick up the originally planned PHX-JFK.

In the event we didn't make up any time, so Plan B came into force.

The lady at ORD had already called ahead to the Admiral's Club at SFO to let them know what was going on, and arranged for her to reissue the relevant ticket coupons (at no charge) if I had to adopt Plan B.

The help I got from the FL at ORD and the AC at SFO was outstanding, and although I got a few less miles out of the mileage run than I had hoped there was no serious disruption to my plans.

There was, however, an amusing incident at SFO where I got my new boarding card at the AC with the dreaded "SSSS" on it... The very helpful lady there said that although I was already airside I wouldn't be able to board until I had gone through secondary screening and had the SSSS cancelled. But to make the process quick and easy she invited me to leave my carry-ons and coat in the AC and just go through the secondary screening in shirtsleeves carrying nothing except my boarding pass. This obviously made the process as easy as possible, but did rather defeat the object I thought.
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