The holidays often mean traveling to visit loved ones. With over 115 million Americans packing their bags this season, many will encounter unfavorable weather conditions that threaten delays and cancellations.
As storms pummel parts of the country, travelers must smartly navigate potential disruptions to ensure they arrive at their destinations in time for holiday festivities.
The first step when preparing for holiday travel is to closely follow weather reports in your area and along your route. This week, strong winds and flooding drenched the Northeast while California braces for heavy rains.
By keeping up-to-date on the forecast, you can better gauge risks, make backup plans if needed, and appropriately pack for the elements.
It also helps to follow your airline and airport for real-time conditions. Carriers often issue weather waivers when expecting storms, allowing travelers to adjust reservations without fees.
Similarly, airports will share updates on crowds, delays, and cancellations. Travelers should confirm flight statuses before departing for terminals to discover any last-minute changes.
Bracing For Potential Flight Disruptions
All is not lost if inclement weather forces airlines to delay or cancel flights. Passengers still have rights and options during holiday trips gone awry.
The Department of Transportation's consumer dashboard outlines airline policies regarding lengthy delays and cancellations. While rules differ between carriers, travelers are usually entitled to refunds for cancelled flights, even on nonrefundable tickets. Most airlines also rebook passengers on later trips to their destination free of charge.
When faced with flight troubles, stay calm and approach gate agents for assistance. Many airlines also have mobile apps allowing travelers to rebook directly from their phones. Consider signing up for such apps before embarking. Also valuable are travel insurance and memberships providing compensation and emergency travel help during delays.
In addition to weather issues, holiday travelers must tackle traditionally busy airports. Over 25 million passengers will take to American skies this season, meaning long security waits and crammed concourses.