USA Today by Kathryn Walsh, Demand Media
Over 4,000 flights have been cancelled -- so far!
A snowstorm may be pretty to look at, but it can be a nightmare for a traveler. Weather-related flight cancellations are a common concern throughout the winter, but the fact that you can see these setbacks coming is to your advantage. Don't wait until your flight has been canceled to start planning for the possibility that it will be; with patience and time, you'll eventually get where you're going.
Airlines often can predict when they'll have to cancel flights because of snow, unlike mechanical breakdowns, and in such cases, you may be able to deal with your cancellation without leaving home. If a storm is coming, some airlines will allow you to reschedule your flight for a later date without paying the usual flight-change fees. In the 24 hours before your flight is scheduled to depart, there should be information on the airline's website that explains how to change your flight online or by calling customer service. The snow will still strand you, but you won't be out any money or stuck at the airport.
If you're in the airport and the snow is expected to clear up soon, the airline may be able to book you onto a later flight. Its later flights may be sold out, however, as your fellow passengers will also be scrambling for seats, so be proactive by calling the airline's customer service number on your cell phone while waiting in line at the customer service desk in the terminal -- you never know which method will connect you to help faster. If the airline doesn't have seats available on a later flight, or isn't booking anyone onto flights, another airline may have a seat for you. Many airlines have a policy that if they can't accommodate you, they will get you a seat on a competitor's flight without charge.
As snow is unpredictable, and cleaning off the runways and planes take time, you may have to wait several hours to days before you can get a flight out on any airline. In the meantime, the only thing to do is settle in. A customer service agent can tell you if the company issues meal vouchers for stranded passengers, and help get you a room at a local hotel, though when weather is to blame, the airline won't pay for your stay.
Wait It Out
When all flights are grounded, you can't count on the airline to contact you when it starts booking flights again. If you opt to stay in the airport, setting up your bags in a chair near the airline's customer service desk will allow you to see signs, such as a flurry of activity, when staff have permission to start booking stranded passengers onto flights. You might also check with the agents hourly to see if they have any updates. If you're friendly and polite to the agents and stay within eyesight, they may even call you over when the snow is lifting and they're ready to fill seats.
Our advice #1 - Always protect yourself by getting Travel Insurance. Travel Insurance protects against the 'unexpected' emergencies. Not only weather related but, if you get sick and cannot travel you are at least financially protected.
Our advice #2 - Head back to St John and hit the beach (again!)!