No matter how much of a frequent flyer you are, you’re no tougher than Mother Nature. You can fly 200,000 miles a year, and you still won’t beat snow, ice and freezing rain.
Just this past weekend I was affected by a cancellation from Washington Reagan to New York La Guardia, an episode I documented to help show you how I reacted to the delay.
It’s important to understand several things when it comes to winter weather delays and cancellations to help make your air travel experience better.
Avoid Flying Into Wintry Places
This may sound obvious, but in the dead of winter, avoid connecting in places like Chicago, Philadelphia and New York. This cities, and many others, are prone to snow and ice. If you have a choice for a connection, choose a place like Miami, Charlotte, Atlanta, Atlanta, Houston, or Phoenix, for example – places that have very little chance of getting a direct impact from weather.
Don’t Fly Out on the Last Flight of the Night
Start out on the earliest flight of the day, so you have more chances to get on more flights if your original flight is delayed or cancelled. If you take a flight out at 10pm, and your flight is canceled, you’ve got little to no options to get you where you need to go. If you start out on an 8am flight, for example, you’ve got the whole day ahead of you to get rebooked.
Find Out Where Your Incoming Aircraft is Coming From
This is something most travelers don’t think of. Yes, you may be flying from Atlanta to Miami, for example, but if your plane that’s going to take you there is coming from Detroit, in the midst of a blizzard, that plane certainly isn’t going to make it to Atlanta to then take you onward. You really have no control over incoming planes far in advance, but the closer to departure it gets, the easier it is to find out this info – and, you’ll mainly have to talk to the airline directly, or look in the airline app on your phone. If you suddenly see your incoming aircraft is coming in from a city being hit with weather, you can react quicker to find a different flight.
Lounge Access is Your Friend
I talked about this the other day, but I’ll mention it again – when things get delayed or cancelled, people run to the customer service desks in the terminal. Lines here can run hours long, and by the time you finally get to speak with someone, options may be all booked up. Get yourself a lounge membership or a day pass to speak with an agent in the airline club, that way you can receive more personalized service.
Know Your Backup Options
Find out which flights have availability other than your flight, that way if yours gets cancelled or delayed, you’ll know which alternative flights you can move to. Also be prepared to find alternate modes of transportation other than flying. If you’re in the Northeast US, you’re in like as most cities are also serviced by Amtrak, which generally runs during wintry weather. So, if you’ve got somewhere to be, cancel your plane ticket free of charge (due to the winter delay), and book yourself on a train, which is a more sure way of getting where you need to be if it’s within the region.
What are your tips for dealing with winter weather cancellations and delays?
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