Tips For Bad Weather and Holiday Travel

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My heart goes out to everyone trying to catch flights home for the holidays right now. Every time I look at a weather map it seems to be all green, pink, and white. I was fortunate enough to get out of town early, and to be going from a moderately cold area  to a warm one this week.

But if you’ll be battling the airports for the next few days, here is a round up of our travel tips that might come in handy:

Be prepared before you go

  • Put all phone, laptop, electronic chargers in your carry on! Do not pack them in checked luggage. If your flight is delayed or you’re forced to overnight somewhere, you want everything to stay operational!
  • Add the airline and hotel phone numbers to your phone contact list. Taking the time to try to pull up the number when you need it, could be the difference between getting rebooked on a flight today vs tomorrow.
  • Dress for your connecting city as well as your destination! You may think its fine to wear flipflops and a sundress for your Carribbean holiday because you’ll always be inside the airport until you get there. Unless of course, you have to overnight in Chicago with sub-freezing temperatures…I’m not suggesting a ski jacket, but maybe a pair of socks at least? 🙂

Check the status of your flight before you leave for the airport and once you’re there

You can often avoid missing a connection by checking the status of your outbound flight before you even leave for the airport. Checking the airline’s site for status is useful, but I prefer FlightStats.com and Flightaware.com which offer more realistic views of what your likely departure time will be. Flight Aware even offers the ability to track the inbound flight for some flights, letting you see how likely you are to leave at the scheduled time.

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If its going be a tight or impossible connection, call the airline before you leave to see what your other options might be!

It is important though, to be paying close attention to the airport monitors, because an airline will often make a switch to keep a flight on time and if you show up at the delayed time, you could miss your flight…

If your flight is cancelled

The second you hear a flight is cancelled, you should get on the phone to your airline customer’s service. Hundreds of people will probably be doing the same, so the sooner you can get into the queue, the better off you are. If you’re on the flight, and they announce they’re headed back to the gate, call immediately!!

While you’re on hold, hustle to the nearest customer service desk. Whoever can help you first “wins.” 🙂

If you have access to lounges, go to the nearest lounge, the line is usually shorter and the folks are usually more helpful.

While you’re waiting, pull out your laptop or iPad and start looking up what other flights are available. Hopefully the agent will know more than you will, but sometimes you’ll find a flight or know whether you could go to a different airport more than they will.

For examples of how this plays out in real life (or just for entertainment) read about what has happened to me and to Jeanne.

If your trip becomes pointless

Sometimes the delays become too much. If you were headed out today and planning on coming back on Friday, then getting rebooked on a flight leaving tomorrow night, probably won’t work. I wouldn’t suggest abusing it, but when your trip truly has become pointless and you’ve missed what you were flying in for, you can use the “Trip In Vain” policy.

It basically serves as a  “do over” where the airline will send you home (if you’ve already begun the flight) and you can reschedule your flight for a later date (though not for a different destination). Note it can only be handled at the airport at a customer service desk, going to the lounge or calling won’t help.


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