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Ways to avoid a delay

Experts say there are steps you can take to minimize the possibility of wasting time at the airport. Here are some of them:

*Fly early in the day.

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* Take nonstop flights.

* For indirect flights, avoid hubs, particularly Newark, Chicago O'Hare, Atlanta, and Dallas-Fort Worth.

* Check flight status before leaving for the airport by calling the airline or checking the FAA Web site (see below).

* Ask the airline if there are any weather-related delays in the system.

* Join frequent-flyer club - even if you don't fly often. Gate attendants often respond more favorably to requests from frequent flyers.

The Web ways:

Federal Department of Transportation (www.dot.gov/airconsumer). Reports on:

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* Airline (and airport) on-time records.

* Numbers of flight delays, cancellations, 'bumps,' and missed connections by carrier.

* Which regularly scheduled flights arrive late 80 percent or more of the time.

* Complaints by airline.

Federal Aviation Administration (www.fly.faa.gov). Latest delay information for major airports around the country.

FlightTracker (www.flighttracker.com). A real-time tool that lets subscribers check FAA radar data to track flights (about $1 per query).

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society