Recently I had the misfortune of traveling to the East Coast when a major snow storm hit. Airports shut down. New York City shut down. I, on the other hand, was stuck in Phoenix.
The scenario- I was on a flight enroute to Phoenix from San Franisco. Once I got to Phoenix, my flight was canceled. The majority of the passengers de-planed and lined up at the customer service desk for re-routes.
In case you find yourself in the same situation, here’s a few things you can do:
- Realistically review your re-route options. The customer service desk is only interested in booking your next outbound flight. They aren’t going to evaluate the risk mitigation of the snow storm. For example, if your 2pm flight is canceled, why would you then be rescheduled to the same airport at 10pm. The storm is just going to get worse. Research other airports that are still accepting flights. Look at the weather report. Is it realistic to continue the trip?
- Call your credit card company. Most credit cards have some type of trip insurance. Mastercard and Visa usually offer $100. Chase Sapphire Reserver offers $500.
- Always ask for a meal voucher or a discount code for a hotel. Most likely the gate agent will laugh in your face, but you never know, they might feel sorry for you and give you a free meal.
- Complain on social media. Use twitter to tweet to your airline company to express why you are mad at them. Is customer service bad? Do you deserve a refund? In most cases, the airlines will reply faster on social media than other outlets.
- Go to an airport lounge. If you have a high end credit card, you can visit a lounge and regroup and plan a strategy. If you are an elite member of an airlines, go to the lounge to get faster service than the normal lines.
In case you wanted some light reading during your long lay over. Here are some airline contracts. Most companies do not offer any compensation, but its worth a try:
Also if you are traveling during a snow storm, check with the gate agent on the chances of the second leg of your trip being canceled. That way you aren’t stuck in Phoenix (like me!)
The good news is that I was able to sort out the mess American Airlines created. I canceled my original flight and flew back to San Francisco. Requested a refund via twitter and received a discount (after filing a claim on their website).
The bad news is that the snow storm prevented my quick fun getaway.
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