The nature of air travel means you’re always at the whim of the weather. This is especially true in the winter when massive storms can wreak havoc with your travel plans. We can’t change the weather, but we can certainly prepare for bad weather to affect our travels. These 20 tips will help keep you calm, fed and maybe even compensated for your delays.
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1. Arrive Early
The website Airfare Watchdog recommends getting to the airport early. This will significantly reduce your stress and will allow you extra time to make alternative plans if your flights are cancelled or delayed.
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2. Choose Warm Connecting Airports
If you're booking a flight with a connection, try and pick an airport with more reliable weather.
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3. Rebook Connections
If you're connecting and booked through an airport that may have problems, see if you can change the connecting airport.
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4. Change Your Flight
If your flight is delayed or cancelled and you want to cancel your trip, Airfare Watchdog says you can ask for a refund or change your flights to another day.
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5. Do Your Own Tracking
If you're worried about your incoming flight, you can use websites like Flightaware.com and Flightradar24.com to track it. Airfare Watchdog says that the data is often more reliable than what the airlines offer.
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6. Pick Early Flights
Often it's the later flights in the day that are cancelled or delayed. Picking an early morning flight can help you hedge your bets.
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7. Change Airports
For example: If Toronto is snowed in, but Ottawa isn't, see if you can hop a train and fly out of the other airport.
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8. Pack Snacks
If there's a remote chance of getting storm-stayed at the airport, it's best to be prepared. Toss some healthy snacks and an empty water bottle in your carry-on. That way if you're stuck, you'll have some food and you can get water from the fountain for free.
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9. Pack Cards
Being stuck in the airport for hours is no fun. Sure, your phone or computer can help pass the time - until the batteries die. But if you got a pack of cards, you can pass the time and meet new people. If you're shy, pack a good book.
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10. Carry Chargers With You
If you're going to depend on electronics to kill time, put your chargers in your carry-on — that way you'll have them when the battery dies. And if you pack a multi-outlet tap, you can share one of the few outlets in the terminal without having to wait in line.
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11. Bring Toiletries With You
Having a toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant can be a lifesaver if you're stuck for hours. Remember to bring travel sizes that conform to security regulations.
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12. Carry a Change of Clothes With You
A change of clothes in your carry-on is a good idea too.
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13. Carry Important Phone Numbers
Make sure you have important phone numbers with you, in case you need to call the airline or inform your hotel that you're delayed.
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14. Install Apps
Your smartphone should have apps for your airline, the airport, your hotel/resort and your travel agent. If you get stuck, you can book a hotel room instantly from your phone.
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15. Make Sure There’s Room on Your Credit Card
It's a good idea to have some room on your credit card in case you have to purchase a flight at the airport. You can worry about compensation later. Same thing goes for hotels.
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16. Carry Cash
For the same reason that you should have room on your credit card, you should also have some cash for the little things. If you're stranded at the airport, you can count on the bank machines running out of money.
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17. Know Your Rights
You have rights when things go wrong, and it will be of great help if you know them. The Canadian Government has a good primer on air passenger rights on their website.
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18. Be Persistent
If you know you're entitled to compensation by the airline, be persistent. That doesn't mean being a jerk. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, but be kind. Showing solidarity with a frazzled airline employee who is also having a crappy day will go far.
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19. Check Your Credit Card for Coverage
Didn't purchase travel insurance? You may still be covered. Airfare Watchdog advises you to check with your credit card company to see if you're entitled to compensation for delays and cancellations of flights booked with that card.
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20. Buy Lounge Access
If you're stuck, buck up for a lounge pass to ease the pain. It's totally worth it.