February 22nd, 2017
How to Beat Travel Delays Due to Bad Winter Weather
Snow storms, ice and sleet, Nor’easters, rain and wind: No matter what you call it, winter weather is often a flyer’s nemesis. It can shut down airports, create delays, and cancel flights. But all is not lost. Follow these expert winter flying tips to save your sanity—and your vacation—the next time bad weather hits.
Never book the last flight of the day.
First things first: When you’re booking your flights, choose the earliest departures that you can. Delays build like a blizzard as a bad weather day drags on, pushing morning flights into the afternoon, afternoon flights into evening, and evening flights into—you guessed it—the next day.
Always confirm your flight before you leave home.
As soon as you see the first snowflake, assume that your flight may be delayed. Sign up for notifications from your airline to keep abreast of flight changes, but also check your carrier’s website before you leave for the airport so you can spend time in your warm kitchen drinking a coffee instead of stuck in the airport all day. Also, be sure to check in for your flight before you leave home to get your boarding pass, confirm your seat, and prepay checked baggage before you ever hit the airport so you can avoid lines and extra delays.
Purchase travel insurance.
Although travel insurance may seem like it’s for only exotic adventures, it can come in handy during bad weather, too. Vacation policies cover nonrefundable flights, plus hotels and activities at your destination if you miss your flight. And it will also give you extra coverage in case your sturdy, checked luggage goes astray.
Have a plan.
If your flight is cancelled while you’re at the airport, do these two things. First, get on the line at the airport to talk to the gate or ticket agent to see what your options are for rebooking. While you’re waiting on line, call the 800 number of your airline to speak with a representative over the phone—often you’ll get through faster on the phone than you will in person.
Download mobile apps.
Before you leave for the airport, download an arsenal of online tools, including: your carrier’s app to check for delays, a weather option to stay on top of shifting storms, and also options that will let you book a last-minute hotel room in case your flight is cancelled (try to choose one that has shuttles to and from the airport, if possible).
Always keep necessities close at hand.
Medication, baby formula, mobile phone, phone charger, and anything else that you can’t live without should always be kept with you in a carry-on bag and never put in checked baggage. If your flight is delayed or cancelled after you check your bags, it may be a long wait before you get those precious items back in your possession.
Know the TSA rules.
When delays start to build, so do airport security lines. Expedite your way through the airport by learning and following,TSA rules. All people older than 12 have to remove their shoes, laptops must be screened in separate bins, everyone must remove outerwear (coats, hats, scarves), and if you're carrying on toiletries, know the 3-1-1 rule (no more than 3.4-ounce containers in one one-quart bag per person). And if you can afford it, it may be worth it to apply for TSA Pre-check ($85 for five years), especially if you fly frequently.
Use carry-on luggage, if possible.
If the worst happens and your flight is cancelled, it will be much easier for your airline to rebook or reroute you or even put you on another airline if seats become available if you don’t have checked luggage. A durable carry-on bag, with space fully utilized with pack-it solutions for winter gear, can be a savvy traveler's key to a quick exit.
Do you have any travel tips for dealing with bad winter weather? Tell your story in the comments!
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