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What to Do if Your Flight is Canceled

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If you are faced with the possibility of a flight cancellation, what can you do?

  • Understand your situation. Check weather forecasts. If snow or storms are in your future, assume one or more of your flights might be cancelled.

  • Plan for delays. Take an extra vacation day or two so you will be covered if your flight is canceled. Let house and pet sitters know that delays are possible and make sure they are available. If you have a smartphone, program your airline's contact information into it. Be sure you know how to use Twitter to monitor your airport's conditions and airline's responses to them.

  • Consider transportation alternatives. You might be able to drive home, for example, instead of flying. Reserving a rental car in advance could help you get home more quickly. (Tip: Do not attempt to drive home in a blizzard unless you are an experienced snow driver in a vehicle with snow tires or chains. In heavy snow, you are safer at an airport than on the side of the road.) You might also be able to take the train home, although you could experience long delays and overcrowding.

  • Pack for an extended airport stay. If possible, bring a travel blanket in your carry-on luggage; you will be glad you have it if you must spend hours in a cold airport. Carry your cell phone and charger, too. Tuck some healthy snacks into your carry-on in case you must stand in line for a long period of time.

  • If the worst happens and your flight is canceled, get into the ticket line and call your airline at the same time. You may be able to rebook your flight more quickly by phone or even online. Once you have rebooked your flight, stay near your departure gate as your flight time approaches so that you can hear announcements about your flight.

Sources:

"US Airways Gives a Unique Perspective on the Three Hour Delay Rule." The Cranky Flier. Accessed December 27, 2010. http://crankyflier.com/2010/04/29/us-airways-gives-a-unique-perspective-on-the-three-hour-delay-rule/

Hughes, John. "U. S. Airlines Purge 3-Hour Tarmac Delays in October After Rule." Bloomberg.com. Accessed December 30, 2010. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-12-07/u-s-airlines-purge-3-hour-tarmac-delays-in-october-after-rule.html

Jenkins, Darryl and Marks, Joshua. "Summer 2010 Cancellations and the Five-Month Impact of the Three-Hour Tarmac Rule." Accessed December 27, 2010.http://www.tarmaclimits.com/Tarmac/Tarmac_Limits_files/MA%20AZ%20Summer%202010%20Cancellations%20%26%20Tarmac%20Rule%2018%20NOV%202010.pdf

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