Watching the blizzards overcome the East Coast this holiday season reminds me of last year’s winter, when my husband spent more than 2 hours on the phone with US Air trying to rebook his flight from Florida back to Washington DC after snow ruined his travel.
So I feel for reader Dan, who wrote: “Blizzard in the New England area and I have been on hold with US Air for 217 minutes so far. I have had 2 rebookings and 2 canceled flights and still on the ground.. Fortunately I am at my home on hold so that is a bonus.”
A few quick tips for those in the same boat:
1. Stay calm. Yes, the delays are frustrating. But yelling at the reservation agent will get you nowhere. Being rational and nice during a time when everyone else is losing their cool will definitely make the agents more likely to go the extra mile on your behalf.
2. Don’t try to go to the airport. Dan has the right idea. With lines at the airport at all-time highs, you are just as likely to get rebooking help from an agent over the phone than in person – and you’ll be a lot more comfortable too.
3. If you have airline status, invoke it. As unfair as it seems, not all passengers are created equal. If you’ve earned preferred status on an airline or alliance, this is the time to ask for special treatment – nicely, of course.
4. Ask for a refund. If you can figure out another way to get to your destination, call the airline and ask for a refund. Blizzards and other weather-related Acts of God are usually one of the few times that an airline will issue you a refund (check your contract of carriage to make sure, as different airlines’ policies vary).
5. Next time, plan ahead. If you see a monster storm bearing down on your region, try to get out a few days early. It may suck to cut your holiday short, but people who left the East Coast on Christmas Day are already home.
For those of you visiting family or friends over the holidays, how did you cope with travels during the blizzard?