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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- If you can, bring only carry-ons. When weather situations tangle airline schedules, luggage is more likely to go missing. So pack light!
- 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!