In previous years, giving advice for winter travel usually meant suggesting ways to avoid germs and staying well. While that’s still important, this year advice tends more toward alleviating stress if you have to cancel or rebook a flight for any reason.
Weather, which is unpredictable when flights have been booked weeks or months in advance, is a huge culprit for causing flight delays or cancellations. That can be especially troublesome if a flight has multiple stops, which means more opportunities for something to go wrong. Combine that with fewer flights routed through many airports, and you can be faced with a huge hassle to get to your destination—or to get home after your visit.
I actually booked and later cancelled a flight with multiple stops and ungodly travel times to Michigan in early December because I didn’t want to take a chance, and that was even before the holiday travel season officially began. Airlines are still not fully staffed and may not have adequate resources to service increased travel demands.
If you are scheduled to fly during winter months (and especially around the holidays) here are some tips that might help if your flight is delayed, cancelled, or rerouted.
--If your flight isn’t booked yet, use a credit card that provides travel insurance. Check your card to be sure of coverage, including for flights affected by severe weather. Additional costs incurred during a delay, such as meals or accommodations, may also be covered. If your credit card does not provide travel insurance, major airlines generally offer insurance coverage at the time of booking. Either that or purchasing separate travel insurance could be a good investment for getting a refund if a storm interrupts your trip.
--Book a direct flight, if possible. If not, are there stops at destinations less likely to be affected by bad weather? Of course, that’s not always possible to predict, but it’s still good to think about when scheduling.
--For help rebooking during travel, tools like Google Flights allow you to compare routes across multiple airlines. If replicating your chosen route won’t work, you might have to broaden your search and look at nearby airports to find alternate flights. Also consider booking a one-way flight rather than round trip. You can book the return after arriving at your destination.
--Because most airlines have a social media platform, you might get help from a customer service representative by posting about your dilemma on social media. But this tip is still iffy, especially if airline employees are overwhelmed with requests, so I’d use it as a last resort.
Now for some good tips whenever you travel—but more important during the winter season:
--Check in online, and set up flight alerts. An early status report that alerts you to a delayed or cancelled flight before you arrive at the airport could allow you to start making changes more quickly.--Be prepared to stay longer. Pack medications and other necessities to last at least several days longer than your planned stay. You might even check out accommodations near the airport in case there’s a last-minute change to your plans.
--Take only carryon luggage. Traveling light gives you more flexibility to hop on another flight without worrying where you checked luggage might be or when it might arrive at your destination.
Be prepared so you can avoid inconveniences and the hectic scramble and stress that drives passengers crazy if the worst does happen. And it often does.
Photos from free sources.
Photos from free sources.