Going Places: Navigating The Unknown When Weather Interferes With Travel

Feb 9, 2017

The snowfall earlier this week that blanketed much of Western Washington created some problems for travelers. Flights were canceled or delayed at Sea-Tac Airport as crews worked feverishly to clear runways. 

A recent story in The New York Times described a way travelers can save themselves -- and the airlines -- some hassle. Some airlines will let you change your plans without the usual cancelation or rebooking fees, if you know the weather might make air travel difficult when you’re scheduled to fly.

88.5’s travel expert, Matthew Brumley, has more on that, and a few other tips:

Check the weather in advance. Looking to see if that nor’easter is blowing through on the day you’re supposed to arrive in Boston, or checking to see if Seattle will get snow on the day you leave, can really help. If you can, change your plans slightly; call and see if the airline will allow it. It can help reduce your stress, and reduce the number of passengers the airline has to quickly rebook after a flight is canceled.

Technically, they owe you nothing. But airlines also know that you owe THEM nothing; so they want to keep your business. They have to honor your ticket, and generally to ensure happy customers, they’ll provide vouchers for hotel stays and meals during mechanical or computer problems. It’s less common for weather delays.

Check with your credit card company. Premium credit cards often cover flight problems.

Be nice. Look, everyone knows you’re having a rough time. So are the airline agents. Keep your cool, be nice, sympathize and have patience. You don’t have to be a ray of sunshine amid airport chaos, but a kind word and a level head can get you better care. Plus, it’s just the way grown-ups should behave.

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"Going Places" is 88.5's weekly travel segment. Matthew Brumley is the co-founder of Earthbound Expeditions, which provides small-group travel to clients including knkx.

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