I could have avoided a weather delay…

A weather delay is inevitable.

This weekend, I had to travel from my parent’s house in Pennsylvania home to Washington DC, a fairly usual travel experience for me.

When I go to my parent’s, there’s two ways of getting there and back home:

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  • 4,000 Amtrak Guest Rewards Points – about a 2.5 hour journey
  • 4,500 British Airways Avios – about a 50 minute journey, not including airport time

When I have a choice between the two, I actually prefer flying for several reasons:

  • Flying out of Reagan airport actually puts me closer to my vehicle, since I don’t have to take the train to Union Station, and then fight the Metro with a transfer to get to my car.
  • I’m more productive sitting in the club and it’s generally a faster journey, with, in my experience, less delays. Since I live on the outside of DC, it’s actually inconvenient getting to Union Station. There are trains to Alexandria, and my home city, however those trains are limited and require lengthy layovers.

So, in any event, I chose to fly home. Looking up award availability on ExpertFlyer, I found a flight that worked for my schedule and immediately booked it – for 4,500 British Airways Avios and $5.60 in taxes and fees. The problem is that when I booked it, I never checked the radar to see of any impending weather, a rookie mistake I’ll be sure to never repeat again.

Turns out, there was a huge line of storms headed into both the Washington DC and Philadelphia areas – complete with both tornado and flash flood warnings. After boarding my aircraft on time, we were hit with the dreaded groundstop delay, which ended up turning into an over two hour delay – so much so that the flight attendant onboard had to distribute the mandatory Department of Transportation required snacks.

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Looking at my phone, the weather wasn’t getting any better, and in this case, it actually would have been faster had I taken the train – which usually isn’t affected by rain. Even with the transfer in Washington DC, I still would have been back at my car faster. My plane ended up not taking off until around 11:30p, about 2.5 hours behind schedule. Getting into Reagan airport at midnight was not the best of experiences, despite the fact that I’ve done it many times – though I was hoping to get more sleep than I ended up getting afterwards.


So, this sums up into my mistake – having both the option of taking the train or flying, I didn’t bother checking the radar as I should have to ensure I would have had an on-time arrival. Had I noticed the weather ahead, I would have booked the train ticket, pretty much ensuring me getting in on-time, even with all of the extra transfers required.

Have you every been in a similar predicament booking a mode of transportation not knowing about severe weather ahead that could have been avoided otherwise?

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  1. says

    Bummer! A modified version of this is choosing your connecting airport in the summer, knowing that certain ones are more susceptible to thunderstorms. And I hate when I forget…

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