How to select most reliable flight? 5 tips!

You have to fly to a destination and looking to book flight tickets. Besides ticket price, next biggest concern is reliability. You don't want to face a delay and miss your meetings or connecting flights. But there's no way to predict a delay weeks in advance. We usually book in good faith that our flight operates on time. However lots of things change dynamically and even most trusted airlines can face issues. In this post, I am sharing a set of factors that you can consider to minimize the probability of selecting a flight that may get delayed.

Check 1: Check on time performance of a flight.
Websites like or Flightradar24 help you identify on-time performance record of any flight. For example, for a flight between Chennai and Delhi, based on historical data, Air India flight only has 72% on-time performance with 21% probability of major delay. Whereas Vistara has operated on time 92% of the time. Though past track record doesn't guarantee your particular flight will operate on time or will face a delay, it is a fair basis to make a decision. In this case, I will put my bet on Vistara
Check 2: Airport Conditions
During winter, fog can cause delays and diversions for early morning flights. Mid day flights may operate normally.

News on airport closures - due to runway maintenance, security reasons (like Republic day parade in Delhi) will give an idea on possible impact on your flights.

If you are flying into busy airport with known causes for concern (fogs, shutdowns) either keep enough buffer or where possible fly in previous day.

Check 3: Time of the day
This is usually true for domestic flights in India. Early morning flights are usually on time while evening flights have more probability of delay. This is due to accumulation of minor delays throughout the day as aircraft hops around the country.
Example: Indigo's 6E2652 4.30 AM flight to Delhi has 93% on time performance while the 8.45 PM flight to Delhi 6E 5005 only has 27% on time performance.
If you are flying out to international destinations, best to start with early morning domestic flights connecting to an afternoon/evening international flight, than taking an evening flight out with a very tight connection time.

Do expect more delays on evening flights in general.

Check 4: Plan B in case of cancellation
Flights get cancelled at times due to variety of reasons- aircraft mechanical issues, crew shortage, weather and so on. This is hard to predict but you can check what would be your next option if the flight is to be cancelled.

For example, Indigo has about 12 flights a day between Chennai and Delhi. If one of them are to be cancelled, very likely you will be put on next flight within 2-3 hours without any major delay. But Vistara has only 2 flights to Delhi from Chennai- if you are to miss the morning one, next one is in the evening. Or you've to request one stop via Mumbai. 

Sometimes if destination has very few flights you can't worry so much. But when you have an option, select an airline that has a possible second flight/alternate option that isn't a major inconvenience for you in case your flight is cancelled.

Check 5: Aircraft type
Larger the aircraft type, larger the possibility of a delay. For example, Air India operates some aircrafts on international route, as well as domestic route. A long haul inbound flight has higher probability of delay which will affect next domestic flight. Comparatively a small ATR that keeps flying in a small region has higher on time performance. Again this is hard to predict. It will be foolishness to avoid booking on a Dreamliner and book on ATR- when you have an option. But just try to guess the previous flight of your aircraft and check its on time performance to assess possible impact on your flight.

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