7 Tips for Successful Winter Air Travel

abundant snow, winter travel, tips winter

I am Canadian, and winter is a big part of my life. In fact, our winters are very cold with some days in January and February with temperatures as cold as -40C/-40F with the windchill. Traveling in wintertime can be challenging. I’ve spent more than 15 years of my previous career traveling multiple times a week, a good portion of that time in winter conditions. I want to share 7 tips that could make your winter air travel easier.

1 – Do your research. Google is your friend, and researching the current and average temperature of your destination will help you plan when choosing your clothing for your trip.

2 – If your trip involves layovers, choose longer layovers. It always amazed me how long de-icing takes when flying in ice and snow storms or very cold conditions. Many of my flights were delayed due to the time needed to de-ice numerous planes. Expect that it could add anywhere from 15-45 minutes in the total transit time. Don’t choose a shorter layover during the winter. It is much better to be in an airport for 2 extra hours rather than miss your connection by mere minutes.

3 – Travel wearing layers. It is much easier to deal with temperature changes both in the airplane, train or car when wearing layers. I often had to change planes in Chicago Illinois known as “the windy city”. Believe me, in the deep winter, Chicago can be brutally cold. My first bad experience flying in the winter saw me making the choice to wear a lighter coat for my flight. Little did I know that commuter planes often land away from the terminal, and we are required to walk on the tarmac, wait for our curbside luggage while braving the elements, and proceed to walk a few minutes to the terminal. When the temperature is in the minus double digits, strong winds are knocking us over and the snow is making it challenging to see ahead of us, a few layers of clothing works well. You can also have the option to take off a layer or two while traveling, for your own comfort.

4 – Always, always, always check your flight status. Winter storms can occur quickly, and it is always a safe practice to check and verify the status of flights. Your local weather might be fine, but your destination weather might be the issue. I always sign up for text or email notification of flight changes, but messages don’t always get sent real time.

All airlines have online flight status which lists cancellations, delays, on time schedules etc. Have your airline numbers handy, as well as websites and check for any update messages.

One website I like to check is FlightAware – it lists information on delays and cancellations by airlines and airports.  It even has an interesting page called the MiseryMap.

FlightAware cancelled flights

 

FlightAware miswery map, lists of cancelled and delayed flights

5 – Add extra time for travel to and from the airport. I never hesitate to add lots of extra time to get to or from the airport. Snowfalls might have already occurred, but winter winds and snow drifts can drastically slow down travel to the airport. Plan accordingly.

6 – Bring snacks in case of weather delays. I often sat on the plane for hours waiting for a window of good weather for our plane to take off. Delays do not always occur when you are in the airport terminal. Bring nuts, power bars, dried fruits and other authorized food to carry you over should you be stranded on the tarmac for an extended period of time.

7 – Be patient. It can be very challenging traveling by air in the winter. Please be patient with the ticket agents, captain, crew and other passengers. They are also inconvenienced by the weather challenges, and it doesn’t make for a good flight if tempers flare.

Winter weather doesn’t have to curtail your travel plans but it does require a bit more planning than summer weather. I personally thrive on leaving the blistering cold city to head off to a warm island or a beautiful cruise in the warmth of the tropics.

What do you do to ensure a good winter travel experience?

apptraveler

Retired exec consultant who traveled for more than 4 decades, both corporate and leisure. I appreciate my travel experience and want to share tips, photos and stories with readers! I live in Ottawa Canada and have traveled to 31 countries.

31 thoughts on “7 Tips for Successful Winter Air Travel

  • December 11, 2017 at 5:41 pm
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    and make sure that you get to the airport in plenty of time – especially with the ways weather can affect air travel!

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    • December 12, 2017 at 5:55 am
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      Thanks Andrea, I agree – better to get to the airport much too early than missing a flight.

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  • December 12, 2017 at 1:10 am
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    These are all great tips! I usually fly in the south since I live in Texas and my family is in Florida, so don’t deal with the winter storms often. And when we’ve had to book flights with layovers, we try to make sure they aren’t in snow-prone areas.

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    • December 12, 2017 at 2:34 am
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      Thanks Stephanie for your comments. Choosing warmer location layovers is also a great idea!

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  • December 12, 2017 at 1:52 am
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    This is great advice for a mermaid!! I love #3 and #6. Great advice to utilize layers and of course, no one wants to be hangry during a weather delay!

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    • December 12, 2017 at 2:33 am
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      Hi Mermaid Christine – thanks for your comments. Delays can be ok if we are prepared for them!

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  • December 12, 2017 at 2:06 am
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    As someone who arrives early to EVERYTHING, I am so with you when it comes to booking longer layovers. The thought of missing my next flight stresses me out so much- I can’t understand why anyone would risk it!

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    • December 12, 2017 at 2:32 am
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      Hi Lois, and thanks for your comments. I am always ahead of time – especially while traveling. A good habit of my mental health!

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  • December 12, 2017 at 5:25 am
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    Love winder traveling. Thank you for all these tips!

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    • December 12, 2017 at 5:53 am
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      Thanks for your comments – I love winter traveling as well.

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  • December 12, 2017 at 9:22 am
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    Those are such awesome tips! For sure travelers will have a successful winter air travel. Awesome reminders indeed.

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  • December 12, 2017 at 2:51 pm
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    Winter traveling is always fun , loved your tips which are really helpful 🙂 Thanks for sharing !

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    • December 12, 2017 at 3:43 pm
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      Hi Sonali, thanks for your comments. I enjoy winter travels, we just need to plan a bit more!

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  • December 12, 2017 at 7:32 pm
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    These tips are very useful! Being well prepared is so important. Next to taking enought time to travel to the airport it is also important to keep your travel documents within your reach.

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    • December 16, 2017 at 5:48 am
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      Hi Grace, thanks for your comments. Documents within reach – great travel tips!

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  • December 13, 2017 at 2:54 pm
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    You are giving such great tips for traveling. I love traveling very much, and winter traveling sounds awesome. I will use your tips for my next trip. Thanks for your sharing

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    • December 16, 2017 at 5:47 am
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      Thanks for your comments. I’m glad the tips could come in handy for your next trip.

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  • December 13, 2017 at 5:31 pm
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    Those are such amazing tips! For sure travelers will have a successful and unforgettable winter air travel experience.

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    • December 16, 2017 at 5:46 am
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      Hi Candy, thanks for your comments. I appreciate your kind words.

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  • December 13, 2017 at 9:19 pm
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    I am traveling to Nebraska for the holidays. It gets really cold there. These tips will come in handy.

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    • December 16, 2017 at 5:46 am
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      Hi Brandy, Thanks for your comments. Hope your trip to Nebraska goes really well!

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  • December 14, 2017 at 11:34 pm
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    So much snow that is crazy to see living in Arizona..winter travel is always fun!

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    • December 16, 2017 at 5:45 am
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      Hi Michael, Thanks for your comments. I could reverse the statement and say that the Arizona weather in August in wild! Never had I seen cars without their hood before!

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  • December 19, 2017 at 3:51 am
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    I really appreciate all of your helpful tips. I’m sure that it would be of great assistance for many of those who are frustrated with their air travel.

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  • January 25, 2018 at 5:07 am
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    Excellent tips. I always wear warm clothes while travelling. If it gets hot I can always take it off. I loved your tip about layovers. That is something new. Thank you sharing 😊

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    • February 2, 2018 at 3:16 am
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      Thanks for your comments – and I’m glad you found a new tip to consider while traveling.

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  • January 25, 2018 at 6:03 am
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    In India, we don’t have snow issue but in rainy season waterlogging and in winters fogs is always an issue. Good tips to follow. We always try to start an hour early then required, to be on safer side.

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    • February 2, 2018 at 3:16 am
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      Thanks for your comments – I agree that starting an hour earlier is a good approach to traveling in challenging weather.

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  • January 25, 2018 at 3:23 pm
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    Luckily I haven’t experience cancelled flights yet due to snowstorm. It can be a little tricky on how to keep ourselves warm during our last winter adventure considering we grew up in a tropical country but layering is the key!

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    • February 2, 2018 at 3:17 am
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      Thanks so much for your comments. Layering is in fact the key to traveling, it allows us to remove and add layers as they are needed. Comfort is important when we travel!

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