Thursday, December 20, 2012

Storms Roll In Just As the Holiday Rush Hits: Some Strategies for Staying Sane

Seems like every year brings not just trees hung with tinsel, and re-mixes of Christmas carols by the latest hip hop sensations, but storms. Ugly, air traffic derailing, storms. And wouldn't you know it, they alway hit just as everyone's heading to the airport to get home for the holidays.

As I write this, flights into and out of Chicago are experiencing two hour delays from winds in advance of what promises to be a massive snow storm. A number have already been cancelled outright, according to USA Today and the Weather Channel. The blizzard is expected to tangle travel across the Midwest, reaching as far east as New York and Philadelphia by Friday.

So what's the holiday flier to do? Some suggestions:
  1. Don't assume your flight's okay just because the day is bright and sunny in your home city. Remember, the airlines have to move planes and flight crews from one area to another, so socked-in conditions in Detroit could derail a flight out of San Francisco.
  2. Go to your airline's website to search for delays and cancellations before heading to the airport. I know folks who've been stuck for several days at socked in airports just because they hoped being on the spot would get them on a plane quicker. It didn't work. Instead, they had to endure crowds, ever-dirtier bathrooms, shortages of food at the airport eateries (as supplies were unable to get in) and worse. There are few worse places to be in a blizzard than at an airport. 
  3. If you're already stuck at the airport, waiting in a long line to speak with a customer rep about rescheduling your flight, take out your smart phone. NOW. And if you're traveling with a partner, have them do the same. One of you should try and work the phone, the other the internet to see if you can get actual help before you get to the front of the line. Don't get off the line though, even if you're able to re-book. At the front of the line may be vouchers for free meals at the airport. That's not a guarantee, as weather is considered an "act of God" by the airlines' contracts of carriage, meaning they don't have to help you. But many will, so do ask.
  4. If you can, bring only carry-ons. When weather situations tangle airline schedules, luggage is more likely to go missing. So pack light!
  5. If your airline reschedules you in a way you don't like, call back in an hour. The seating arrangements are constantly changing as travelers and airlines scramble during episodes like this one. Persistance can pay off!
Best of luck and happy holidays to all those heading home for Christmas and New Years!

1 comment:

  1. A marvelous, fascinating and very moving post! I really enjoyed reading and seeing your photos! Thank you so much for sharing this with us!


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