Why geeks get the next flight out while others go nowhere

Why geeks get the next flight out while others go nowhere

Tools to recover from a canceled or delayed flight as holiday winter storms hit the US

by Kurt Knutsson

December holiday travel is seeing growing flight delays and cancelations across the country with 8.425 delays and 5,119 flights completely canceled leading into Christmas weekend.

Brutal below freezing temps, high winds, rain and snow pounding the midwest, eastern seaboard and as far west as Washington state.   Flightaware’s MiseryMap is lit up like a Christmas tree with massive delays at major hubs throughout the entire U.S.

At of Friday two days before Christmas, Denver Intl Airport where United operates one of its largest hubs is being hit the worse as a severe cold winter storm clouds the skies and runways.  Delays from weather impacted areas has a domino effect reaching to airports like Raleigh-Durham (RDU) with clear skies and already 30% of today’s flights delayed and 41 cancelations in and out of the airport.

No matter which airline you book, expect trouble and plan ahead with tools to help if your flight gets delayed or canceled.

There’s a reason geeks often find another flight in a pinch while most others are still stuck on the ground.  It comes down to the right travel tools on your phone and knowing how to use them.

Canceled flight?  These tools can help get you on the next flight while others wait in line going nowhere. The Best Travel Gear for 2022


4 Essential Travel Tools


Flight Board app

Flight board app helps you track delayed and canceled flights. Most valuable is how it shows which flights are still operating when yours gets delayed or canceled.

This helps you understand which other flights are operating to get you to your destination.  Remember to screenshot a photo of the flights available for the moment you are negotiating a recovery flight.  Click to get Flight Board app for iOS and Android.


ExpertFlyer site


ExpertFlyer site shows vast flight inventory that airlines hide from you.  Frequent fliers use this as an essential must-have subscription that reveals far more than any airline wants you to know.  Fact is, this tool alone can help you steer an airline representative toward available flights they may not even see.

I especially love a feature that allows you to click for additional flight status information that reveals a log of each flight.  On one occasion, I was told by a gate agent after a flight was canceled that it was weather-related and she could not help.

Expert Flyer then allowed me to show the true data showing the flight was canceled for “operational” reasons with no mention of weather.  Yes, I got a hotel voucher that paid for the night until my recovery flight took off first thing in the morning.

ExpertFlyer has a free seat alert function, but the real full working version is a paid monthly or annual subscription which for me pays for itself in spades.    When it comes to free apps and services online of any worth, if you are getting a valuable product for free, then you are the product.  ExpertFlyer is found here. 

Get a quick recap about their services in the video below.

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LiveATC Air Traffic Control radio app

LiveATC app started as a fun way to hear air traffic control talking to the flight deck.  Today, this can be one of the most essential recovery tools when delays start targeting your journey.

Find your city, then choose the airport and the ground channel for your departure.   You will often hear exactly why your flight is delayed.  And in some circumstances, you will hear the flight being canceled before it is announced to the cabin or flashes on the airline app.

The advantage of spotting trouble ahead of the masses can help you get into the next few seats still available on the following flights to get you to your destination.  LiveATC is here. 



ITA Matrix flight search

ITA Matrix site shows all available flights for sale on all airlines at that moment.  You cannot buy a ticket here, just get informed.  Best bet is to buy an airline ticket directly from the airline you plan to travel.   What works great here is this will show you flights available to your destination for sale available in real-time.

It shows other airlines which could be a better flight recovery option if your flight gets scrapped.  Airlines would rather accommodate you on a later flight on the same company aircraft to save money.  Fact is, you can often nudge your way into an airline confirming travel on a competitor in order to resolve a failure that sits on their shoulders.  Search flights on ITA Matrix here. 


Pro Flight Tips

  • Book ticket on big planes when available. Flying larger aircraft that become planes used on international routes are seldom canceled.
  • Airline lounges offer better rebooking help. (buy a day pass if you cannot get through to an agent or reticket online with the airline’s app)
  • Avoid checking bags to give yourself the most flexibility. If you find a flight on another airline to get you where you want to go, airlines won’t always transfer checked luggage to other carriers.
  • Listen to LiveATC app control tower for your airport during a delay to hear how your flight is being handled by ground air traffic controllers. You will know to rebook before anyone else.

Have you tried any of these tools? Let us know if you were successful in the comments below.

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Andrew Minikes July 1, 2022 - 4:07 am

Awesome article. Thanks for the information on those airline flight sites. As an AV geek, I’ve been using LiveATC for a long time. It’s a bit tricky to tune into the appropriate channel and to get useful information on flight delays. Those guys talk their own language and speak really really fast! (0:

Janice Szumowski July 3, 2022 - 7:06 pm

Great article full of good tips. I used the flight search website and it saved me close to $300 on a flight I had booked but could cancel, so re-booked with the information from this site. Thanks Kurt!


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