If Your Flight Is Canceled Due To Weather Here Are 5 Steps You Should Take

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BOSTON, MA – JANUARY 28: A plane taxis into its gate at Logan International Airport after the area was hit by Winter Storm Juno on January 28, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. Boston, and the rest of New England, picked up over two feet of snow from the storm. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

With Winter Storm Jonas set to hit the East Coast in the next few days, many travelers will have to contend with flight delays, cancellations and other weather-related interruptions. To make the most of an unfortunate situation and minimize your time spent waiting for updates at the airport, follow these five tips.

1. Call the Airline Right Away.

As soon as you know bad weather’s heading to your departure airport, call customer service for assistance with rebooking. Even if you’re at the airport and the gate agent hasn’t started re-accommodating passengers on new flights, reservations agents should still be able to change your itinerary. That said, if you’re at the gate, get in line while you’re on the phone so you can speak to the gate agent as well.

2. Look for Alternatives Yourself.

Reservations agents are sure to be inundated when bad weather hits, so save yourself (and them) some time by researching other flight options yourself. A good starting place is the airline’s app or Google Flights. Consider more complicated routings if you need to — preferably those that aren’t affected by bad weather. For example, instead of New York-JFK to LAX, you could fly JFK to Detroit or even JFK to Toronto to LAX. Also, don’t rule out another class of service; if you’re booked in business, look for coach availability in vice versa. If the airline is able to rebook you and there aren’t options, you may be accommodated in whatever seat’s available.

3. Go to the Lounge.

If all else fails, an agent at the airline lounge may be able to help. They’re typically more experienced than gate or reservations agents, and are often given more authority by the airline to re-accommodate passengers. If you’re not a lounge member, note that select travel credit cards — such as the Citi Prestige and the Platinum Card from American Express — include lounge access among their benefits.

As a last resort, it could be worth simply paying for a lounge day pass; they usually cost about $50, and access to a knowledgeable agent could mean the difference between making it to your destination and being stuck with no good options. Plus, you can purchase the pass with a card that awards you bonus points for travel spending to maximize your return.

4. Request Accommodation on Another Airline.

If the airline you’re ticketed with doesn’t have any availability but you’ve found something that works on another carrier, ask an airport agent to rebook you on the other airline’s flight. There’s no guarantee they’ll be willing to do it, but it never hurts to ask. Also note that if you have elite airline status, you may have better luck.

5. Consider Leaving from Another Airport.

While it’s certainly a hassle, switching up your departure city can be a good option when there’s a nearby airport that hasn’t been hit with weather-related delays and cancellations. For example, if you’re at Newark but are having no luck rebooking, consider leaving from Philadelphia (PHL) instead. You’ll need to drive there, but at least you’ll be able to get on a flight.

Bottom Line

Weather-related delays and cancellations inevitably throw a wrench in travel plans, but you do have some recourse. By being proactive about finding alternative flights, visiting the lounge to speak with knowledgable agents and being flexible with your departure city and more, you’ll maximize your chances of getting where you need to be with minimal hassle.

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