Winter Weather and Flying
Category : Uncategorized
This past weekend’s first serious winter storm, Jonas, saw over 5,000 cancelled or delayed flights across the mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Passengers and airlines have been pretty lucky this winter with the mild weather that we had. Even Thanksgiving and Christmas, which are notorious for colliding with severe weather, were spared.
So what do you do if your flights cancelled? Well, you could:
- Do nothing and let the airline rebook you, but it may be during a time you’re unable to fly;
- Yell at every airline customer service agent you cross paths with.
If #1 doesn’t sound good to you, and #2 does not yield positive results either, try these methods the next time you’re stranded at an airport:
Airline Status—do you have airline status? Now’s the time to leverage it. Top-tier elites from airlines have special agents that can try and help them. Take full advantage of your frequent flier status.
Being Proactive—So there’s severely bad weather predicted for your region and you’re traveling and you just have a feeling that your flight will be cancelled or delayed, right? Instead of waiting for the airport app or screen, or receive a slow and late email about the cancellation or significant delay, be proactive. Track your flight and it’s status by checking inputting the airline and flight number in Google:
Check out the first Flightaware link: You’ll see some interesting data that can help you determine and get a jump on the situation.
The reality of being cancelled or delayed. So you’ve automatically been rebooked but hate what the airline’s given you? Remember, thousands of travelers are in the same boat as you. You want to get home, they want to get home. And the airline? Every hour a flight is cancelled and every passenger that has to be rebooked is lost money for them. They don’t like it very much either. So:
- Be nice—not much more to be said here.
- Try Twitter—sometimes you can get faster responses from dedicated customer service teams
- Call the airline on multiple phones—your phone, your child’s, your significant others, etc.
- Try calling call centers outside the U.S.—You may have to pay for long distance, jump on Skype voice or use Google Voice calling, but it can save you lots of time. (Google search “airline carrier + country + contact”).
This last method is a principle applied to award bookings, but can potentially be useful on cancelled revenue (cash) tickets.
Be proactive and provide the agents with other options. So, if you were on an American flight from Miami—Charlotte—Chicago this past weekend, chances are high that your flight to Charlotte was cancelled. Alternatives can be the obvious direct flight—so search and see if there’s availability. Be flexible with your routing—perhaps even going out of your way to get home.
The reason why this has less impact on paid flights: if you search Miami to Chicago after a storm, you’ll only get what paid options are available, which will automatically include any published fare that has a seemingly odd routing.
Avoid flying during the winter.
Of course this is an option and I toyed with this idea for a while, but with family in Chicago, it’s not really realistic. Chicago is notorious for bad weather in the winter that has a negative impact on flights. What can you potentially to do mitigate the effects of severe weather on your travel plans? Here is one method that has helped me only get delayed, and not cancelled.
Morning flights. We all hate getting up before 5:00 AM to catch a flight, but the earlier flights are least likely to be cancelled. As the day goes on, runways get more and more backed up. Severe weather only makes it worse.