Monday, October 31, 2011

Fliers Face Tricks Not Treats This Past Weekend. What To Do When The Planes Aren't Flying

With a freak snowstorm delaying and/or cancelling flights into New York City, Philadelphia and other East Coast gateways; and strikes at Air France and Quantas stranding passengers abroad, it was, to put it politely a #%@% up weekend to fly.

What could travelers have done to make their travels more efficient? Very little frankly. With the scope of the disruptions no amount of fuming at airport counters would have helped. That's not to say there's nothing to do when these types of incidents occur. Some advice:
  • Try, try again: Passengers who need to reschedule flights after cancelled flights should realize that the first option they're offered is usually not the only option. With so many passengers to rebook, the situation will be a fluid one, with fliers sometimes opting to drive to get to their destination or cancelling altogether. So if you get re-booked on a lousy flight, say "Thanks so much" to the airline worker, hang up and call back in 40 minutes. It may take several tries, but persistent travelers often get the flights they want in the end.
  • Be in contact with your airline before you head to the airport: Better to be stranded at home than in a drafty terminal, right? If the "mother of all storms" is heading towards your gateway, do yourself a favor and see if you can wait it out at home.
  • Look to your airline's partners: This can be especially useful when traveling abroad. If the airline you're booked on is engaged in a labor dispute, see if you can transfer your ticket to one of its partner airlines.
  • Be nice: Though you'll often get faster service over the internet or on the phone, being pleasant to the harried folks behind the counter may bring rewards. Ask nicely and you may receive food vouchers for airport snacks, and even special consideration when it comes to re-booking.
Finally, its a good idea to consider weather patterns when buying tickets. Google Flights now has a widget allowing those considering flights with transfers to eliminate certain airports (like snowy Denver) from consideration. Hey, we just got hit with a massive snowstorm in October--might be a good idea to take weather into account this winter!

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