Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Air Travel Update

With storms brewing across the country on the two biggest travel days of the year, there's probably no better time to review airline delay/cancellation policies and tips.

More than 5,500 flights were delayed today as of 7:15PM Eastern; Philadelphia, Boston, New York City and Atlanta suffered the worst disruptions of all major airports, as expected. Although there are very few weather problems on the West Coast, flight delays in the countries biggest airports are problematic across the country because of tight schedules for airliners and flight crews.  Despite these delays, travelers did not experience the meltdown that many feared.

Thursday is expected to see more cancellations and delays.  What should you do if your flight is delayed or cancelled? What are the airlines' responsibilities if your flight is delayed or cancelled?


  • Make sure you're signed up for flight alerts! The sooner you know, the better off you are. Most airlines can text your cell phone or send you an email.
  • Even still, pay close attention to the weather and check the status of your flight. Also check if the airline has enacted a flexible rebooking policy as many do in bad weather.
  • If you're already at the airport and experience a delay or cancellation, get in the line for a service agent but also try calling the airline's reservation department from your cell phone. Sometimes the wait for the call center is shorter than the help desk.
  • Desperate times call for desperate measures- if you can be flexible on your arrival and return airport location you may be better off than never making it for the Thanksgiving feast.
Airline Policies:

  • The airlines only obligation to passengers with cancelled and delayed flights is providing a ticket, free of charge, on the next available flight.
  • If your flight is cancelled and you have an alternative mode of transportation or if you'll miss out on the turkey and want to cancel the trip altogether (we hope it doesn't come to this!), you are entitled to a refund for all unused portions of the itinerary.
  • Contrary to popular belief, the airline is not obligated to compensate you for food or lodging in the event of a delay or cancellation. Many airlines will offer this for their own errors like mechanical issues, however, when weather is the issue you're unlikely to be compensated. Always ask, just in case! Even though it may be sunny and clear in your departure and arrival cities, with storms in the North East and South are likely to blame if you're delayed or cancelled.

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