It’s that time of year again when travel can become a headache due to winter storms. With snowmageddon on it’s way through the north, many travelers can expect delays and cancellations. I want to share some tips to be proactive and then reactive to the headache. First, grab an adult beverage…just kidding, but seriously stay calm and follow these steps.
- Use a Travel Advisor: I cannot stress enough that using a travel advisor is your number one key to ensuring you are not having to deal with the stress and hassle of figuring out a solution to your travel woes. Travel advisors have strong relationships and dedicated communication lines to those at the airlines that can make a key decision about your travel fate. All you need to do is make one call to your travel advisor (if your travel advisor isn’t already proactive about keeping an eye on the situation) and ask them to figure out a solution. Sit back and wait for them to do their magic.
- Buy Travel Insurance: Always buy travel insurance. Many of my clients think that insurance is useful only if they cancel their own trip. However, many policies cover trip interruption, baggage delays, and any costs incurred due to the delay. Give yourself peace of mind, rather than shelling out a wad of cash at the last minute.
- Book Nonstop Flights: Not only is it less hassle to fly direct when possible, as there are no transfers nor running to the next gate, but this also decreases your chances of missing your next flight and having significant delays. If there are no non-stop options, choose a warm weather hub, to decrease the likelihood of a delay or cancellation.
- Get Notifications: Sign up for flight notifications via text, email, or through airline phone apps. As soon as the airline announces a delay or cancellation, you will be notified and can start creating a plan. Why make the trip all the way to the airport to find out you’re delayed when you could still be chilling on the beach?
- Have Supplier Contact Info: Have all supplier info on hand, so if you need to contact the transfer company to adjust pickup times, or your hotel to book another night, or the airlines to figure out a new way to get home, you know exactly how to get ahold of them.
- Tag Team: If you’re already at the airport when the delay or cancellation is announced (and you don’t have a travel advisor) call the airline or supplier you booked your flight through and get in line at the airline help desk to see which one is faster. Ask if there are options to reroute through a different city and ask for them to provide a voucher for meals and hotels if you are significantly delayed.
- Be Nice: I mean this! Airline agents will likely have suffered abuse by other angry passengers. Being rude and demanding towards airline agents will not change your reality nor will it get you any perks or helpful assistance. Be a shining light in the airline agent’s life and they will make your life easier if they have the power to.
Good luck winter travelers and may the winter gods be ever in your favor!
Tracy Larson is the Founder of True North Travel Design, a travel agency specializing in off-the-beaten path luxury travel for people of all abilities. Follow her at @truenorthtraveldesign.