What to do if your flight is cancelled

File photo of Tampa International Airport

The East Coast is expecting a colossal storm this weekend. More than a dozen states are likely to get heavy snow, NBC News reports.

With heavy snowfall predicted from the Appalachians to Philadelphia and maybe farther north, people readied themselves for blocked roads, power outages – and canceled flights.

News Channel 8 talked with Zach Honig, editor-in-chief of The Points Guy, to find out what you should do in case of a cancelled flight. The Points Guy helps travelers score great deals.

Here’s what Honig recommends you do if you’re already at the airport:
  • “Queue up with the gate agent. Then, as soon as you’re in line, call your airline’s reservations line (or the elite number if you have it). You may get through to a phone agent before it’s your turn at the gate, and since you’re essentially competing with everyone else in line for the same seats on an alternate flight, you’ll be better off if you can get a head start.
  • While you’re on hold, research a few flight options that could work for you, either on your airline’s website or app, or on flights.google.com (my preferred flight search engine). When it’s your turn to get rebooked, you’ll have a better chance of getting the flight you want if you already know what’s available.”
What should you do if you’re not at the airport yet? Honig suggests:
  • “Call the reservations line right away as you research flights at home.
  • Consider changing your flight to a future date, or if you need to travel soon, consider flights from an airport within driving distance if you can’t find what you need from the airport nearest you.
  • Also, if you can drive or take the train to your destination, you can consider that option and ask your airline for a refund, instead.”
Here are some other tips: 
  • Forbes suggests being an “immovable object.” Insist on being rebooked. Stay in front of airline employees. But, whatever you do, be polite.
  • If you’re stranded and need a hotel, try mobile booking apps. SmarterTravel.com recommends Hotel Tonight or Priceline’s Tonight-Only. These apps show you available rooms at nearby hotels.

It’s important to know, weather cancellations leave you with fewer options. “Travelers are much better off if an airline cancels a flight for a reason within its control, such as a delayed aircraft arrival or mechanical issue,” Honig explains.

In these cases, the airlines might help you through hotel and meal vouchers, or they may provide certificates for other trips. “You’ll also have a better chance of being reaccommodated quickly since you’ll only be competing with passengers on your own canceled flight, rather than those on many other canceled flights as well,” Honig said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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