Foul weather fiend
September 17, 2009 4:30 PM   Subscribe

Where can I find information about the chances of a flight being delayed or grounded by foul weather?

I'm planning to travel early Feb 2010, but all of the airports I'm using are fairly northern and for various reasons I may struggle to deal with unplanned delays. I want to know what kind of time margins I should build into my plans when organizing my trip. The codes for the airports I'm looking at are MAN, AMS, SEA, and PDX.

Is there a place where I can get historical delayed or grounded flight information for these airports? And is there any good advice for avoiding weather delays? I've tried looking on and a couple of other sites, but they seem to be focussed on current information.
posted by Sova to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
No one can predict weather that far out. February is in the PacNW is typically dreary and wet, but snow is really the deciding factor on flights being cancelled.

Your best bet is to start tracking weather about a week before you depart. If a major weather event is predicted, such as a snowstorm, call the airlines 24 to 48 hours before your flight departs and ask if you can change your flight a day earlier or later. I've done this several times in the USA with no problems. That way I was able to reschedule my life around the revised flight times accordingly with no worries.

On the other hand, my flight has been delayed or cancelled in my departing city because my connecting city has had weather problems (i.e. flying out of Los Angeles on a perfectly beautiful day to San Francisco, SFO is closed due to fog, flight delay, barely making my flight from SFO to BKK).

Don't worry about something you can't control or predict five months for now. It's really pointless and life is too short.
posted by HeyAllie at 5:06 PM on September 17, 2009

I think some of the online travel booking sites will show you what the on-time arrival rate of each regularly scheduled flight is, or at least they used to do that. This would incorporate more than weather delays, and it probably wouldn't tell you how long the delays tended to be, but it might give you some indication.

I think your best defense against weather delays is scheduling wiggle room into your itinerary so you aren't in a position where it's easy for one delay to trigger a cascade of missed flights or appointments.
posted by lakeroon at 5:12 PM on September 17, 2009

The places I go (not months in advance, mind you) for such information are and They do at least tend to provide weather information (when available) well in advance of the individual airlines' sites.

Further, cargo and shipping sites for flights usually provide better information than the consumer sites - for instance, has always beaten by minutes or hours on reporting accurate weather and other system delays for flights I've been stuck on.

I know this isn't quite answering your question - but others have accurately pointed out that your best bet is padded planning and immediate rescheduling as soon as anything looks like it might go sideways. These sites can help you accomplish that.
posted by abulafa at 6:22 PM on September 17, 2009 also will give you the historical on-time percentage for the flight you are interested in.
posted by reddot at 6:38 PM on September 17, 2009

Best answer: If you're talking about AMS-SEA or AMS-PDX non-stop on KLM/Northwest, those are generally once daily flights, and the airlines do not like to cancel them. They may delay them, but there is not a lot of slack capacity in the system to handle a cancelled flight.
posted by smackfu at 6:41 PM on September 17, 2009

ExpertFlyer has a huge amount of insider data, for a price.

You could also ask on, which is an incredible forum to read and a great way to kill huge tracts of time.
posted by intermod at 7:25 PM on September 17, 2009

Best answer: One tip is to book as much as you can on a single itinerary to ease rebooking and rescheduling in the event of bad weather. Keep in mind that the EU also has stricter compensation rules for delayed flights (but not in the event of bad weather!) than the US does - details.
posted by mdonley at 3:41 AM on September 18, 2009

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