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Bad Weather, Flight Delays or Cancelations and You

Bad Weather Flight Delays and Cancelations

So far, this has been a nasty year for weather: Lots of snow (remember the white stuff disrupting the Dallas Super Bowl festivities?) and lots of stormy weather.

Recently, FareCompare Editor Anne McDermott got caught up in some fairly run-of-the-mill storms at DFW that nonetheless disrupted her flight plans, but I’ll let her tell you about it – and how she coped:

“All I can say is, thank goodness I read Rick’s tips in Bad Weather Flight Delays and Canceled Flights: What to do Next because it really helped. I followed his suggestion to ‘multi-task’ by immediately getting on the phone as I also got in the long line at the American Airlines counter; the phone agent got me another flight so when I finally got to speak to the counter agent, I was all set. At least for the moment.”

“Unfortunately, the storms continued, and my back-up flight was canceled. The gate agent then got me on standby for another flight and I made sure I went to my newly assigned gate immediately because I knew that if I wasn’t present (or not close enough to hear them call my name for the flight), I’d be out of luck. As it turned out, there were plenty of people on the standby list who weren’t there when their names were called, but because I was, I was able to leap-frog over them and get a seat on the plane.”

“More great advice from Rick: I used a carryon bag – so I never worried about a checked-bag going astray in all the confusion.”

“By the way, I just want to add that every step of the way during this long day, the American Airline reps were just terrific – patient, calm and helpful; best of all, they constantly provided us delayed passengers with meaningful updates.”

This is Rick again, and I just want to remind all travelers out there that summer weather can be much worse than winter for flight delays and disruptions. If you’re always prepared, you’ll have a much easier time of it. And, as always, safe travels.

Bad Weather: What to Do if Your Flight is Canceled or Delayed

February 1, 2011 | Posted in: Delays,Travel Safety,Travel Tips,Weather | 0 comments

Bad Weather Flight Delays Cancellations

You’ve seen the news: snow and ice in much of the nation (and I can tell you the roads in Dallas were very icy this morning).

If you’re supposed to fly today, one word of advice: don’t.

Stay home and avoid the mess at the airports:

  •  Take advantage of the airline “change fee” waivers: Contact your airline to reschedule your flight without having to pay the $150 change fee.
  • Don’t get stuck: Being at the airport is no guarantee of quick rescheduling; a colleague’s wife who was scheduled to fly today just learned she won’t depart snowbound Scotland until Friday

Already at the airport? Contact your airline immediately. More tips:

  • Multi-task communications: If your flight is canceled or delayed, immediately get in line and listen to the gate agent; at the same time, call the airline (it may be quicker)
  • Use your elite miles status: If your status entitles you to a dedicated airline phone number, use it
  • Follow your airline on Twitter: Airlines have staff monitoring social networks, and often respond more quickly to tweets for help than other communications

Important Note! There is a misconception that there is a federal requirement that forces airlines to provide you with hotel or meal vouchers in weather situations; there is not. Bad weather is considered outside an airline’s control. However, some airlines may offer such things as a goodwill gesture, and by all means, ask.

See more tips in my article called, Bad Weather Flight Delays and Cancelled Flights: What to Do Next?

Quick Note to Anyone Flying to Athens (or already there)

May 5, 2010 | Posted in: Delays,Europe,News | 4 comments


Just a brief heads up:

As you know, these are tough times in Greece – and massive shutdowns are occurring, including at the Athens airport – and even tourist attractions like the Acropolis.

I have some updated information for you and links on where to get more – in a new report called, “Attention: Passengers Traveling to Athens, Greece”.

Stay safe.

New Tarmac Rule Limits Time Stuck on Airplanes: Will it Work?

Tomorrow – Thursday, April 29 – a new Dept. of Transportation rule called, “Enhancing Airline Passenger Protections” goes into effect.

You know it better as the “3-hour rule” – and it means no more passengers getting trapped-on-the-tarmac in planes going nowhere, after a wait of three hours.

It also means, while you are on that plane, waiting for those three hours, medical attention will be available to anyone who needs it, and after two hours, food and water will be available as well.

Plus, the lavatories will have to be in working order (don’t think this hasn’t happened before).

The airlines don’t like this rule – and some passengers say, three hours is too long. I take a look at this angry debate (and more) in my latest column for ABCNews.com.

Here’s an irony: the new three hour rule could wind up delaying your plane a lot longer than three hours – or at least, that’s what some experts are saying. Is that argument valid? I’d love to hear what you think.  

For First Time, Iceland Volcano Closes…Iceland Airport

April 23, 2010 | Posted in: Delays,Europe,News | 0 comments

iceland volcano closes airport

You may be forgiven if you assumed Iceland’s Reykjavik Airport was closed when that country’s volcano began spewing ash nine days ago.

After all, it shutdown most of Europe – why wouldn’t it close an airport just 65 miles away? Because of wind direction. So Reykjavik’s airport remained open throughout the crisis. Until now.

The winds have shifted, and according to the Montreal Gazette, the Iceland airport will be closed at least until early Saturday (4-24-10). But if you’re due to fly there, check with your airline – things can change at anytime.

DOT: No Waivers for Airlines on 3-Hour Tarmac Delays

April 22, 2010 | Posted in: Airline News,Delays,DOT | 3 comments

dot waivers airlines 3 hour tarmac delays

In just one week (April 29), a new Dept. of Transportation (DOT) rule takes effect, that limits the time people have to sit on a plane – on the tarmac – to just 3-hours.

As soon as word of the rule was first made public, there was an immediate crush of carriers requesting that the rule be waived in some of their cases. Well, now we know the answer to those requests:


As activist Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood put it, “Passengers on flights delayed on the tarmac have a right to know they will not be held aboard a plane indefinitely. This is an important consumer protection, and we believe it should take effect as planned.”

As noted, earlier this year, JetBlue, Delta, American and other sought waivers and/or exemptions to the rule because of various situations at airports they fly to - especially at JFK because its main runway is under construction. The carriers said, without those exemptions, they’d have to cancel flights to avoid breaking the rule (and frankly, to avoid the hefty fines – $27,500 per passenger).

But the DOT says, airlines can minimize delays by rerouting and/or rescheduling flights.

Ball’s in your court, airlines.

Stranded Animals: Canceled Europe Flights Delay Pets

April 21, 2010 | Posted in: Delays,Europe,News,Pets | 1 comment

stranded dogs canceled europe flights delays pets

Of course, the stranded human passengers have been uppermost in our minds in recent days – but a sea of pets and other creatures have also been affected by the airline industry’s volcanic ash crisis. 

Think of average travelers, separated by their cats and dogs; think of cargo shippers, that transport more exotic creatures; think of breeders, delivering pups.

Those animals and more sat out the crisis, just like their human counterparts.

Let’s meet a few of them (as described in the Wall St. Journal):

  • A Slovenia resident drove 9-and-a-half hours over the Alps, to pick up his Basenji dog who was stranded in Germany. He said his pup was quite thin, “like a hyena during a summer drought in the African Savannah.”
  •  The Frankfurt airport had several stranded visitors, including a turtle, a gecko and some snakes; the gecko and turtle were “not particularly demanding,” said an airport employee,  but no word on the snakes.
  • Also in Frankfurt, two horses that were supposed to go to New York City were enjoying the good life, according to a Lufthansa rep: “We transported them to the countryside so they could roam around.”
  • A Germany-based freight company was stuck with a lion it was trying to ship to a European zoo; the company’s manager said, “It’s a big disaster.” I just hope that doesn’t mean a shipment of zebras has gone missing…

Celebrities: Just like Us (Stranded by Canceled Flights)

April 21, 2010 | Posted in: Delays,Europe,News,Passengers | 0 comments

celebrities stranded canceled flights

Which gossip mag is forever using the catchphrase, “Celebrities – They’re Just Like Us”?

Well, sure they are, except they usually have a bit more money, and can deal with things like Icelandic, ash-spewing, airspace-closing volcanos a little bit better than your Average Joe.

We’re told it could be days (and maybe more) before everyone’s back, but celebrity money – and the ability of some to think outside-the-airplane – helped some escape most of the inconvenience.

Like Monty Pythonite John Cleese; he was stuck in Norway – so he paid about $5,080 for a cab ride from Oslo to Brussels (close to 950 miles), where he could get a train for the rest of the journey home to London.

Singer Whitney Houston was touring in Europe when “the flight ban threatened to cause another cancellation on her tour, which has already suffered several cancelled dates due to her respiratory infection” but she made it to her Dublin gig via a car ferry across the Irish Sea.

Hat tip to Martha Stewardess.

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