Argh. Winter storms can wreak havoc on the best laid travel plans. But since flight delays & cancellations are out of your control, I know it’s hard, but try to accept it & move forward. Let’s talk about what you can do to try to make the situation more tolerable, & still keep your sanity if possible
1) When you book your flight, always sign up for mobile notifications from the airline sent to your phone. This is helpful in many ways – I was once at the airport when my flight was supposedly delayed for two hours… I went to a restaurant, & the status quickly changed – the flight was boarding in 30 minutes instead of 2 hours. Luckily, I got a text, otherwise I surely would have missed my flight while enjoying a glass of wine and a book at the cafe.
If your flight is cancelled, & you’ve signed up for mobile notifications, you could also receive a text that you’ve automatically been rebooked. That could even save you a trip to the airport if you find out soon enough. However – there are also problems with this. If you are traveling with family members or friends, you may not be rebooked on the same flight – so getting a notification in advance helps you to change the flights as soon as possible.
2) When you make your travel plans, it is a good idea to either use a travel app like Trip It to store all your travel info, or simply load it into your phone in notes. That way, all the important phone numbers – hotels, airlines, etc are at your finger tips once you hit the road or wait in the airport. You may not have WiFI when you need it to get this info. Or, some airports only give you 45 minutes or so of free WiFi, and you pay afterwards.
With those phone numbers, start working the phone when you find out your flight is delayed or cancelled. YES – if you are at the airport also wait at the main airline desk to try and rebook your flight, but also work the phone. There will be long lines at the desk. Many travelers already know about this trick, but there are more phone agents working than people working at the desk, so it will still be more efficient if there are long lines at the gate or desk.
Here’s the key: If the person on the phone rebooks you, ask him or her to send a link to a mobile boarding pass if possible. I have been rebooked on the phone, only to get to the gate and the gate agent says I do not show up in the system. So after all that, I could not board the plane I thought I so ingenuously rebooked. (Cue the sad trumbone.)
3) If you rebook yourself, thinking out of the box, and flexibility can reward you. Is there another airport nearby that is not affected by weather that you can fly into and then drive to your final destination? This is a good option if you have to be somewhere by a certain time.
4) In cases of cancellations due to weather, the airlines are not obligated to put you up overnight. There are some travel apps that can help you with finding a place to stay – I have used Hotel Tonight – discount rooms at the last minute.
5) If you know of up coming storms, think about rebooking your flight in advance of your flight day. Many times airlines won’t charge a change fee.
Most importantly – hang in there. This too will pass.