Have you been one of the fortunate few to have avoided some of the worst winter weather on record? If so, consider yourself very lucky because you are in the minority. Thousands of flights have been cancelled all over the world due to snow, ice and floods. Oh, and let’s not forget that volcano. So what do you do as a stranded traveler? Who is your advocate? Is there one? Well, contrary to popular belief, there is help for those lost in the shuffle.
Following these steps will make a significant difference when your travel plans are disrupted.
Step 1-Stay calm.
As simplistic as this sounds, be smart and stay calm! Understand that everyone around you is in a similar situation, and anger and ugliness won’t necessarily get you what you want…and it will not be well received.
Step 2-Reach for your mobile device.
Standing in line at the customer service desk may be more personal, but your mobile is faster. Finding a plug to boot up is impossible and will eat up precious minutes. (Remember… everyone wants those few hotel rooms left.)
There are a number of smartphone apps to help business travelers, too. An app like TripIt helps to keep all your travel plans in one place and share them with people who might like to know where you are. Your airline carrier likely has an app, too, that will help you get the latest information on delays or changes. Check your smartphone’s app store before you go.
Step 3-Know your rights.
Remember, airlines are only expected to take responsibility for those situations that are in their control, i.e. mechanical delays. Acts of God, such as weather, are not included. Having said that, with the Airline Passenger Bill of Rights, airports are taking a more active role in managing weather delays and related issues.
More and more airports are requiring food outlets to remain open 24 hours during major shut downs. Airports are also providing cots and blankets for those unable to find alternative lodging, and increasing security around the clock to keep “extended guests” safer. In emergency and crisis situations, let your company know where you are and that you are all right. Your company won’t be able to track down all of their travelers so reach out to them first.
So who is your advocate? In times of crisis, your travel manager may be your best friend. They can assist you by monitoring alternative flights, getting you in hotel rooms in sold out situations, and aiding in a variety of other ways.
The smartest traveler is an educated traveler. Know your options before you go if you think weather could disrupt your trip. And remember, the better the customer to that carrier, the better the opportunity for being re-accommodated.