Tuesday’s severe winter storm in the Northeast paralyzed air travel throughout the US, forcing cancellation of more than 8,000 flights. Although NYC area airports have resumed operations, you should not head for the airport for flights into or out of LaGuardia, JFK and Newark without a confirmed reservation.
This advice from the AAA also applies to travelers with flights into or out of Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington Dulles and Washington National:
Sign-up. If you haven’t already done so, sign up for your airline’s flight status alert service on your mobile device, and check flight status before leaving home. It beats making multiple calls and get you information faster than waiting on hold for an airline representative.
Ask if re-booking fees are being waived. Most airlines waive change fees due to severe weather, although they are not required to do so.
Check in online. Confirm your reservation online as soon as the 24-hour advance confirmation booking kicks in.Whether your flight is your original itinerary or rebooked,
Allow extra time to get to the airport due to extra post-storm traffic. Also, getting there earlier than usual can help guarantee your seat has not been given away to another delayed passenger who is anxious to get where they are going.
Be prepared for down time in airports. Carry snacks and entertainment for both adults and children, but, remember to get drinks after clearing security checkpoints due to TSA restrictions.
- I always carry a refillable water bottle to refill after passing through the TSA line. Seriously, who wants to pay $2 more or less for water?
Be patient. Remember that you are not the only delayed, tired and frustrated traveler. You have lots of company, and a backlog of weather-related challenges takes time to correct.
Be nice. “Bullying” airline personnel is not recommended. Kindness and understanding will take you much farther. Remember that airline employees are as exhausted and frustrated as you are.
Be sure your cellphone is fully charged, and carry one of those portable battery packs, too, since outlets for recharging will most likely be in use by other low-power travelers. Carrying a fully charged phone or tables helps ensure you receive any important airline alerts or e-mails.
Consider an alternate destination. If your trip was cancelled, you may find some flexibility with travel vendors with regard to when and even where you go. Those who were going for a ski vacation out west could be more in the mood for the beach as a cure for blizzard induced cabin fever. This works if you are starting your trip, instead of finishing it, since if you are delayed getting home from a ski vacation, you won’t have clothes packed for a Caribbean vacation.
Consider alternative transportation. If your flight is canceled, and you can’t be rebooked for several days, ask for a refund and take alternate transportation, such as Amtrak,
Show me the money. You are entitled to cash compensation for EU flight delays if you are bumped from an overbooked flight. If you are on an international trip the airline is required to use all practical means to avoid or mitigate delay, or pay delay compensation. According to Flyers Rights, under the Montreal Convention Article 19, that payback can be up to $5,000.
File a complaint. When all else fails, file a complaint with the DOT at https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer/file-consumer-complaint