(NewsUSA) - Man-made and natural disruptions to air travel are all-too-often the norm. Not only can weather delay take-offs and landings, but new airline rules can also keep planes grounded.
For example, if a plane is sitting on the tarmac for more than three hours, it has to return to the gate. On the upside, there are ways to cope with the unexpected. Here are a few simple tips to prepare for delays before leaving home:
* Print copies of itineraries with the 800 numbers for your airline, and others that fly the same route, just in case you have to rebook from the airport. The paper-free option? E-mail those numbers or enter them manually into your smartphone.
* Check airline Web sites for delay postings. New rules mandate that airlines have this information online. Alternatively, you can go to www.flightstats.com.
* Make sure you can access your office and home computers in the event you are stuck while traveling. Free and inexpensive programs like LogMeIn (www.LogMeIn.com) make it quick, easy and secure to access files, calendars and applications from any computer, smartphone, netbook or iPad with an Internet connection.
* Enlist a friend or family member who knows their way around online travel sites, and keep them on your mobile phone speed dial. If you have to make alternative plans, they can probably do it faster than anyone.
* Remember travel insurance. A few extra dollars tacked onto the price of your trip can provide peace of mind if you have to change plans for unforeseen reasons. Check what your airline, travel agent, booking site and credit cards offer to make sure that you're covered.
* Have fun. Many airports are adding luxuries like spas, high-end restaurants and even showers to keep passengers happy. Find out what your airport, and the ones that you will visit, offer before you go, so you're able to enjoy them to the fullest.
While there is no surefire guarantee for disruption-free air travel, a little advanced planning can go a long way -- even all the way to your destination.