This tip is born of experience. Last year, a few days after Christmas, I was one of the unlucky many who got stuck at Chicago O’Hare when freezing rain hit. What should have been a 6-hour trip (with connection) turned into a 21-hour ordeal. That’s right… 21 hours door to door to get from Chicago to the west coast. And if I hadn’t taken some proactive measures, I could have been stuck for days. So here are some tips on what to do when you get stuck due to travel delays.
Know the Alternatives
When the delays started getting longer and longer, I started calculating. Calculating the exact time that we would have to leave by in order for me to make my connecting flight. Then, I went to work. I looked up later connections. Alternative routings. I even looked up other airlines just in case. I wanted to know all of my options before I spoke with someone in order to speed up the process. Because in a situation like this where over half of the flights were cancelled throughout the course of the day, the precious moments it would take an agent to search are the same moments in which the seats can disappear. Time is of the essence.
Call, Don’t Just Stand
Have you seen those lines in the airport for rebooking??? In the words of the illustrious Sweet Brown, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”
You have a phone in your hand…Use it. I actually called the airline phone number before I even got off the plane. Even with hold times approaching an hour (many have a callback feature), I was still able to reach someone by phone before I was able to speak with someone to rebook, and I wasn’t even in the look rebooking line. By calling I was able to secure an alternate flight well before the other people on my flight even made it to the window. This proved to be clutch when I got to my connection and there was a standby list of 20 people. I was able to get out that night rather than being stuck on a connection with no options.
Download the Airline App
Most of the major airlines have cell phone apps that you can download. And they make all of the difference in the world. When I missed my first (of three) scheduled connections, American Airlines actually sent me a notification through my app letting me know that they had rebooked me automatically on the next flight out. This was a huge surprise, because I hadn’t even reached a person yet! On a trip where there were a lot of things lacking, American scored on that one. So make sure you have your airline’s app before flying because I can’t imagine that American is the only airline that can notify you of changes via the app. It definitely saved me some stress.
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