Poor weather accounts for more than 75% of flight delays in the United States. 

Whether you’re flying for business or pleasure, weather delays for flights can throw a serious wrench in your travel plans. Before you take to the skies, here is everything you need to know about how weather delays work, what you may be entitled to for compensation and how you can minimize the impacts of weather-related delays with a private jet charter.

When do flights get delayed because of weather?

The timing of a delay or cancellation notice varies significantly. Sometimes, inclement weather is predicted days ahead, and fliers will receive a notification about the impending delay before they leave for the airport. Other times, travelers may not know until the aircraft is preparing to land.

What kind of weather will delay a flight?

Adverse weather of any kind can cause flight delays. While these delays are usually short-lived, some severe weather patterns can lead to significant delays or even flight cancelations.

Delays due to weather happen year-round, but the summer months, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, are typically the worst hit by weather, and thunderstorms are the main culprit.

Thunderstorms create treacherous conditions for aircraft with severe turbulence, winds, hail and, of course, lightning. Flights prioritize passenger safety and will often re-route around the storm. As a result, the aircraft spends more time in the air, and in commercial aviation, even a short delay can cause waves that impact future flights.

Thunderstorms that block busy jet routes, especially near the airport, can cause even further delays with jets sent into holding patterns or even diverted to alternate airports. At busy international airports, this can quickly lead to gridlock as gates fill and outgoing flights are held.

Beyond the havoc wrought by thunderstorms, low visibility and gusting crosswinds cause delays year-round, while snow and ice create weather problems during the fall and winter months. 

While private jets are not exempt from inclement weather, their relatively compact size, flexible flight plans and ability to access a wider range of smaller regional and executive airports puts private fliers in a better position to minimize the impacts of weather delays.

In private aviation, air carriers complete flights if the weather conditions are at or above their published minimums within their operational specifications. Any weather below published minimums results in a delay and may result in cancelation. 

What happens if your flight is delayed due to weather?

In most cases when flying with an airline, you just have to wait. Depending on the severity of the storm, this may be anywhere from a few extra minutes, to several hours or even overnight.

When your flight is canceled, it’s a different story. With so many other passengers vying for a spot on the next available flight, it pays to be first, a CNN article reports. Try positioning yourself close to the check-in counter or call the airline’s customer service line as soon as possible.

Thankfully, when you fly private, you avoid the hassle of dealing with call centers and busy check-in counters full of irate passengers. At Stratos, our private flight advisors monitor weather forecasts to identify potential delays both before and after takeoff. And, by flying to quieter regional and executive airports, your private jet charter is less likely to be impacted by gridlock.

Which airports have the most weather delays?

The Weather Channel reviewed 10 years of DOT statistics to find the most weather-delayed airports in the United States. According to their research, Newark Liberty International (EWR) came in first, followed by San Francisco International (SFO) in second and Chicago O’Hare International (ORD) in third.

Their report matches NextGen statistics from the FAA, which found that New York City area airports are the hardest hit by inclement weather, followed by Chicago, San Francisco, Boston and Seattle.

There you have it—the easy-to-understand guide to weather delays in the United States. 

Want to experience the height of luxury and lessen the impact of poor weather on your next flight? Call our private flight advisors at (888)593-9066 to learn more about private jet charters.