Monday, January 10, 2011

The Weather Outside IS Frightful: What To Do If You're Supposed To Be In the Air This Week

(photo by Thomas Tolkien)
With vast swatches of the US being buried under even more snow, I thought it might be a good idea to pass along some advice I got from Priceline's Brian Ek on what to do when your flight has been canceled. I interviewed him on this topic recently on our radio show (click here for the podcast).

1) Don't go to the airport! This is probably the key bit of advice. You won't get any further by telling the folks behind the counter that your flight has been canceled. Instead, stay somewhere cozy and get on the phone. If you'd like to read about the awful consequences of going to the airport during a blizzard, take a look at this blog by my friend and colleague Jason Cochran who slept at the airport during the last blizzard, witnessed food riots as the restaurants ran out of grub and other assorted melees as passengers became more and more desperate to go home.

2) Use your loyalty status: Those who collect miles don't only get free flights. Reach the higher echelons of loyalty and you'll likely be given a different customer service number than the hoi polloi. Use it! Not only will it have a higher staff to customer ratio, but the operators there are allowed to play favorites on behalf of their clients and often they do.

3) Persistence Pays Off: When you're attempting to rebook you're flight and you're handed an unacceptable itinerary don't get angry, get patient. Call back in a couple of hours. The fact is, flight loads are constantly shifting, no more so than during a weather situation. So call every few hours to see if you can get a better flight out.

4) Be flexible: Okay, it might make no sense whatsoever to fly from Tampa to Denver to get to New York City. But if that's what offered, and there aren't many options, take it! A flight that may backtrack a bit is better than none at all.

Good luck to all who are flying in the next few days.

And if you've been wondering why there is so much more snow lately than there used to be, take a gander at this excellent New York Times article on the effect of climate change on the snows that used to dump on Siberia and other remote regions. A truly chilling piece, in more ways than one.

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