What Do I Do if My Flight Is Canceled Due to Weather?
Most frequent fliers will agree: Air travel doesn't connote the same luxury it once did. With lengthy security measures and strict baggage guidelines, flying is rarely stress-free, even for seasoned travelers. Aside from logistics of navigating through the airport, extreme weather conditions easily can keep you from getting from the gate to the skies. If your flight is canceled due to weather, take proactive steps to make the most of an unfortunate situation.
Call While You Wait
Instead of just waiting with the throng, maximize your means of communication by calling the airline while you wait in line at your airline's customer service desk. Different airlines have different contracts of carriage, meaning that the weather-related cancellation might entitle you to a hotel stay, food vouchers, a replacement ticket or none of the above, depending on the airline. Have your flight number and confirmation number on hand when you call. When you do speak with someone, confirm that the canceled flight is canceled in your record, but that the return flight is still confirmed, should you plan to take it.
Check the Website
If you have access to the Internet, checking an airline's website is often the fastest route to determining the current status of your flight. Once you know that the flight is canceled due to weather, you can log in online to determine whether you already have been booked on another flight. Although you won't get the chance to consult with a representative, at least you can gain some information without waiting in line or waiting for an representative to attend to you.
Know Your Rights
When weather causes a flight cancellation, passengers' rights vary according to the terms they agreed to upon buying the ticket. While the United States doesn't enforce any minimum compensation for the inconvenience, the European Union does require its airlines to pay compensation and provide meals or even hotel rooms for cancellations or delays exceeding two hours. The rule applies to all flights departing from European Union countries. Stateside, the airlines are required to provide food, water and bathroom access if you are stuck on a plane or the tarmac for two hours. After three hours, you must receive the option to disembark the plane.
Pursue Alternative Communication Channels
For the technologically savvy, communication methods such as Twitter might offer flight information the fastest. Many airlines offer notifications by text message, email, recorded phone calls or even Twitter. Major carriers including Delta and JetBlue use Twitter as an additional platform for customer service, sometimes rebooking flights through the social networking tool.
Tap Insurance Options
If you purchased insurance for your trip either through your airline or a third-party, it can defray some of the costs associated with your flight cancellation. This usually will include costs related to extra nights at hotels or meals if you are stranded in your destination while waiting for a return flight. Some credit cards – Chase Sapphire and Citi Prestige, for example – also offer automatic trip insurance if you used them to purchase your flight. Regardless of the provider, check the fine print carefully to see what is covered. Your spending, for example, will have a cap depending on the policy, so don't expect your misfortune to be a chance to try out fancy hotels and restaurants.
Take Precautionary Measures
If your flight has already been canceled and you're standing, dumbstruck, in the airport terminal, it's still worth learning about precautionary measures. To find out about weather cancellations as early as possible, sign up for notification alerts when you book your next airline ticket. Some apps, such as KnowDelay, use weather reports and other data to predict delays well in advance. If there are expected flight delays tomorrow, check with your airline to see if they are offering free rebooking in advance.
Read the terms of your ticket purchase thoroughly, ideally before you head to the airport. Even if you haven't read the terms in advance, print them out and take them with you. You can always read them while you wait in line at a customer service desk, should that snowstorm or inclement weather hit.