Winter weather wreaked havoc on travel this past week with two major blizzards causing flight delays across the Northeast.
Such delays can be a source of frustration and anxiety, but they shouldn’t be a surprise to well-traveled consultants, many of whom fly weekly.
Over the course of a year, almost a third of all flights are delayed by weather. We urge and work with our consultants to anticipate delays and have well thought out alternatives before arriving at the airport.
With more winter weather sure to cause more problems over the next several weeks, we asked our consultant travel experts for their best planning tips:
Stay Ahead of Storms
When severe storms are forecast and a delay of your outbound flight is possible, communicate with us as soon as you can to discuss alternatives. If a major delay (of days, not hours) is likely, we can review “Plan B” options with the client, for example, remote work or a new onsite date, says Trish Brashear, Healthcare IT Leaders Account Manager.
Expect to Wait
Flying on stormy days requires patience. If you’re trying to reach an airline by phone, expect longer hold times. Plan on longer wait times at check-in and through security as well (for the latter, invest in TSA Precheck to expedite security screening). Arrive for your flight earlier than usual and use airline and travel apps, such as Flight Aware, for real-time flight updates to your mobile device, recommends Healthcare IT Leaders Logistics Manager, Deirdre Kurnett.
Communicate Minor Delays
Any delay that keeps you from arriving at the client site as scheduled is one that needs to be communicated. Letting us know as soon as possible, even if you are delayed for just a few hours, allows us to be proactive with the client, explain the situation, and reset expectations about your arrival.
Know What’s Reimbursable
Change fees for unforeseen travel issues are usually reimbursable by the client if documented and submitted with an explanation (save those receipts). But if you have questions about whether a change will be reimbursed, you should ask first—contact your Consultant Advisor to review the reasons for a change, so you don’t have expenses kicked back, says Brashear.
Healthcare IT Leaders offers complete travel services but if you prefer to book your own flights, bigger airlines and airports can give you more options when travel plans change. Contact your hotel asap and explain your delay—possibly avoiding a ‘no-show’ fee, says Kurnett. Several premium credit cards offer travel protection benefits at no extra cost. Compare the various rewards cards and the reimbursement benefits offered by each.
If you’re stuck in an airport with hours to kill, make good use of the time. One consultant told us she uses airport time to plan out the week ahead, create and prioritize shopping lists, schedule appointments, and do online ordering. If you have access to an airport lounge, use it for short phone calls that allow you to catch up with friends and family.