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aug 21

Whom to trust for flight status?

A reader has asked a question of other readers, commenting on a previous blog post titled "Sign up for those flight alerts."

With all of the growing ways of getting flight information (on-site boards, gate marquis, tms, voice mails, the Weather Channel, airline/airport Web sites), I am constantly worried that I am trusting the wrong source for flight status. The airport boards are not correct. I have also been chastised by an agent telling me that I cannot go by the internet status reports. What can I trust? It is just not feasible for everyone to always verify all information with a live human being. It is logistically impossible and it defeats the purpose of all of these other technological (and expensive) means of communicating real-time information. How can we, as the consumer, discern which of these means of info are up-to-date and official? Any ideas?

Thanks, April M

Another reader, Colleen, says the answer is simple: Go to the gate. The gate agent will always be the first to know the latest info. Colleen explains why:

It is true that the electronic boards at airports can be misleading, and unfortunately it happens when you need them most--when things begin to go wrong, such as delays and cancellations. The boards are controlled by employees of the airlines, and when they get busy with the extra paperwork of a cancellation or delay, changing the board may not get done. It is always best to talk to an agent.

Here are some other answers:

If you are the person doing the flying, you only have to worry about two things:

1) Getting to the gate on time.

2) Bringing with you a carry-on bag that contains any "must-have" items, such as medicine, in case you face a long delay.

To make sure that your loved one knows your whereabouts, you only have to worry about one thing:

1) If you are delayed by a couple of hours, call your loved one. You probably have more accurate information about your flight status than they do, even if they're looking at an airport terminal board (at your arrival airport) or at an airline website.

Here are some other helpful reader suggestions:

When I booked a recent trip through Orbitz my husband (who spends 10 times more on line than I do) suggested that I use his e-mail address and cell phone to receive travel change alerts from Orbitz. My return trip on two carriers was first delayed by weather. The second delay in Newark was nearly 3 hours. When I called my husband to advise him about the delayed flight he was way ahead of me - Orbitz called his cell many times to keep him apprised of my flight's status. This worked great for us. --Mina Healy

I'm a corporate travel agent and successfully use www.flightstats.com for accurate flight alerts for my clients. Flightstats will also give you gate and baggage claim information.--Alexander Irmier

More: Four tips for coping with flight delays and cancellations.

Related: A Southwest pilot talks about long waits on the tarmac.

Earlier: "Sign up for those flight alerts."

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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