Flight Plans Include the Northeast This Weekend? 5 Tips for Minimizing Problems in Advance.

a woman looking at a phone

It looks like a historic storm is again headed for the Northeast and for me the timing couldn’t be worse. I’m supposed to fly out on Saturday morning, so I’m already obsessing about what my back up plan should be. If you’re in the same boat, here are some tips for things you can do now (in addition to figuring our your flexibility) to minimize inconvenience this weekend.

  1. Check for Airline Travel Advisories
    It might seem like the airline should be willing to let people in the path of the storm make fee-free ticket changes now, but in reality you have to wait until they issue an official travel notice which details which regions and dates are eligible for free changes. If your trip is pretty important, you want to jump on that option as soon as possible, so consider checking your airline’s website regularly — they won’t contact you unless your flight is cancelled.
    American Airlines Travel Notices
    Delta Travel Notices
    United Travel Notices
    Spirit Airlines Travel Advisory
  2. Remember the term “Trip in Vain”
    If your flights are for a specific reason — like a wedding or a meeting — such that a long delay or cancellation negates the reason for the trip, you could be eligible for a refund or reschedule to other dates. Do know those dates before you talk to the agent though. I successfully invoked this when my 48 hour weekend trip to my parents would have been cut to a little over 24 hours, getting booked for the following weekend instead.
  3. Check cancellation policies for any other trip reservations
    If your chances of flying are looking bad, find out the cancellation policy for your hotel, tour, or any other bookings. If they’re not in an affected region, they may or may not refund your money if you can’t make it last minute, so better to know in advance and consider pre-emptively cancelling if you’re still within the refund window.
  4. Check Your Flight Status Hours/Days in Advance
    While your flight probably won’t be cancelled more than a day in advance, it’s not unheard of, so make sure you’re checking your reservations regularly and not depending on an automated call or email. The faster you act, the better the chance there are available seats on other flights.
  5. Be Nice!
    Internalize now that it is not any of the employees’ fault that the storm is coming and your trip might be totally messed up. They’re the only ones who can help you make the best of it and they’re probably going to try harder for the nice people, not those yelling from frustration.

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