Whether it’s during a winter “Bomb Cyclone” or damaging ice storms and heavy winds, weather has taken its toll on many travelers these last few months. Flight delays and cancellations stall travel throughout the U.S. as “nor’easters” sweep through New York and Washington DC, cause coastal flooding in Boston and other parts of the mid-Atlantic seaboard, and virtually shutter Amtrak train travel. Heavy snowfall in the Midwest, and even a severe cold snap in the United Kingdom can affect travel plans for leisure and business travelers no matter where they are trying to go.
For brave travelers and concerned agents here are 10 inclement weather advisory travel tips from Travel Leaders Group:
Skip the first and last flights. If you’re traveling during seasons with a high likelihood of inclement weather, you may want to avoid the first or last flight of the day since these flights have a higher frequency of being canceled, depending on the start and end time of the storm.
Take advantage of travel waivers. Often airlines will issue travel waivers that allow you to rebook your ticket away from the affected dates at no additional charge. Take advantage of these when they post. Travel agents usually monitors these. For the largest airlines, check here: Delta Airlines; United Air Lines; American Airlines; British Airways; Virgin America Policies.
Get travel advisories or weather alerts delivered to your phone. There are several apps that allow passengers to receive email or text message notifications from their airline regarding a flight’s immediate status. A weather.com app can keep travelers updated about conditions. An all-in-one mobile solution, such as Travel Leaders CONNECT, however, is another efficient way for business travelers to receive text notifications about flight delays, cancellations or gate changes Many agencies and corporate travel department offer live travel agent assistance available 24/7 for help with flight disruptions or flight reservations.
Reroute a connecting flight. There are times the weather in a departure city and at the destination is clear, but weather in the connecting city is less than desirable. If that happens, travel agents can help reroute the connecting flight through an airport showing no delays.
Avoid booking flights at the ticket counter. If you must buy a new ticket, avoid doing so at the airport ticket counter, or else risk paying higher rates and fees. Delayed passengers should always call their travel agent to do these bookings, even as they stand by the counter in an airport.
Consider larger airports and travel light. Passengers concerned about severe weather threats while traveling should consider flying from a larger airport. Larger international airports will have a greater chance of more alternate flights, and they are also better equipped to clear runways faster or with de-icing of a plane. Travelers with only a carry-on will be in a better position to change flights quickly in the event of a cancellation.
Book a room early if facing an overnight delay. If it seems weather conditions will keep you from getting to your final destination that same day, it is important to make a room reservation for an overnight stay as soon as possible. A travel agent who has built relationships with hotels should be able to help find a room and ward off the prospect of sleeping in an airport departure lounge with other stranded travelers.
Sign up for travel insurance. For those instances where you may miss a flight because you were stuck in traffic or your ship sailed without you when your flight was canceled or delayed, travel insurance can be a saving grace to recoup all or part of that travel investment.
Stay on the main roads. For those driving between destinations, stick to major highways or well-traveled roads to facilitate other people coming to your rescue easily should you need assistance. Travel during daylight hours or when car repair shops or convenience stores are more likely to be open. If you get stranded in your vehicle for an extended period, run your engine for only a few minutes once or twice an hour to stay warm and conserve gas. While the car is running, be sure to slightly roll down a window to keep carbon monoxide from building up inside.
Pack an emergency travel kit. Whether you’re driving, flying or traveling by rail, prepare for possible delays with a few essentials. Pack a small bag with an extra sweater, gloves or small throw, as well as water and high-energy or high-protein foods such as granola bars or beef jerky. You may also want to pack a toothbrush and toothpaste, a change of underwear and any needed prescription medications. Remember also a flashlight, extra batteries, or phone charger, a first aid kit and a good book.