Stranded at the airport? Survive air travel woes with these tips

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Monday, December 18, 2017
Stranded at the airport? Tips on surviving a flight delay or cancellation
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Stranded at the airport? Tips on surviving a flight delay or cancellation

There are two dreaded words when you're about to take flight at the airport: "delayed" and "cancelled."

From weather not cooperating to an entire airport going dark for hours, one to multiple flights can be affected, causing you to spend some unwanted time at your departing terminal.

When this happens, you may have to prepare to spend the night among the rows of chairs and hard carpeting of the airport. Here are some ways you can survive being stranded while also taking action for the delay or cancellation.

Keep these items in your carry-on

There may be no telling how long you'll be kept inside your terminal. With that, the following items are the most needed: snacks, an empty water bottle, a warm sweatshirt, toothpaste and toothbrush, phone charger, and a book.

According to Penny Hoarder, water fountains are all over the airport after you go through security. This will bypass a purchase of water costing $2 to $4 at the airport gift shop.

Your own snacks can also take care of another need that won't require a purchase at the airport.

You'll also want to keep that all important toothbrush handy if you know you'll be spending the night at the airport, which may become frigid at times. When the airport's air conditioning gives you the chills, you'll be thankful that you brought a sweater.

A phone charger is a must, especially when you have to keep in contact with the airline. And reading a book is an optimal and analog way to pass the time.

Know your rights

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, passengers are normally informed of their rights to compensation when they are involuntarily bumped from a flight. If your airline arranges alternate transportation, compensation varies depending on how long after the original scheduled arrival time that you make it to your destination. Here's a breakdown:

  • If the alternate transport gets you to the destination within an hour of your original arrival time, you are entitled to no compensation.
  • If you get to your destination one to two hours after the original arrival time, you are entitled to 200 percent of your one-way fare that day, up to $675.
  • If it takes more than two hours of your original arrival time to reach your destination domestically, the airline must compensate you 400 percent of your one-way fare, up to $1,350. The same applies also if alternate transport is not arranged for you.

You can view more details on "involuntary bumping" compensation on the Department of Transportation's Fly Right website.

Penny Hoarder also says it doesn't hurt to ask the airline for meal, hotel, and lounge vouchers during these times.

Book a hotel right away

Once you know that you're getting bumped from a flight, an immediate call to a hotel is suggested. When a hotel knows there are travel troubles, they can hike the price of a stay.

Consult with your credit card company

If you booked with a credit card, some card companies could reimburse your meals and lodging during these times.

Stay in contact with your airline

Tied up phone lines and a long queue at the counter will most likely keep you from talking with a live airline representative.

The best way to communicate with the airline is a tweet away.

The social media platform has been a reliable tool in getting instant answers, sometimes faster than a phone or counter rep. Consider opening a Twitter account for this purpose.

Sleep at the airport, if it's your last resort

Whether it's a bad snow storm or a technological hiccup disrupting an airline's system, you may be faced with the reality of sleeping at the airport.

While it's a common scene that has been captured on the news, some airports actually frown upon your stay in their terminals. According to website Sleeping in Airports, you'll need to be prepared. Be ready to show your outbound boarding pass. You'll also be called upon to answer why you're sleeping at the airport rather than sleeping at a hotel.

The website also suggests bringing sleep wares with you if you know your trip appears to be in doubt and you still need to be at the airport. Things like a compact sleeping bag, a sleeping mask, ear plugs, a pillow, and other materials will suffice.

Sleeping in Airports goes on to point out some other survival tips such as scoping out prime sleeping spots early and obtaining use of cots, depending on the airport.

Be nice and patient

Remember to be courteous. Flight delays and cancellations are already a big inconvenience for passengers. So, cut the counter workers some slack.

Keep in mind that airline workers may not reach their home destination in a timely fashion, and their prime objective is to accommodate your transportation needs.

Besides, airline employees don't really wish these mishaps on their customers.

Getting to your destination safely with an assist from these workers is arguably the most priceless thing afforded to you.