Hurricane Season: What to Do When Flights are Delayed or Canceled

Hurricane Season

Tropical Storm Arlene hit Mexico this week, with plenty of strong winds but not quite enough to qualify for hurricane season strength; however, there will be more.

When is Hurricane Season?

The season for Atlantic hurricanes begins June 1 and extends through Nov. 30, but don’t let the dates fool you; hurricanes have been known to materialize outside this time frame, although summer storms are generally more disruptive to airline schedules than wintertime weather.

Outlook for Hurricane Season 2011: Worse than Normal

According to the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center, an “above-normal” hurricane season is expected. Does this mean it will happen? No, but proceed with bad weather preparations anyway and you won’t have to worry.

5 Things to Do When Bad Weather Cancels or Delays Flights

The following are tips and general information that could save you time and trouble. You may save some money, too.

1. Understand weather’s effects on all destinations

Hurricanes aren’t just for Florida and the Caribbean; New England has been walloped a time or two (and so have many other locations). And don’t get complacent if you’re flying into a big hub in the Midwest, either. Flight delays and cancellations can have a domino effect, and could mean late arrivals/departures at Chicago’s O’Hare.

When bad weather makes the news, check your airlines website for updates, no matter where you’re traveling.

2. If you’re flight is affected, multi-task

If you’re at the airport and hear and announcement about cancellations or delays, or notice changes on the departure board, do two things:

  • Get in line for an agent
  • Get on the phone to the airline

One may be faster than the other; if you get through on the phone first and can make new flight arrangements, stay in line to get your boarding pass from the airline rep.

3. Use your smart phone to help the agent, help yourself

Look up alternative routes to/from your destination; you may find something that will not have occurred to the airline rep assisting you (or occur to the airline’s computer). This may streamline interaction with the ticket agent and the key to getting on the next flight is speed.

4. Don’t hesitate to fly out of your way

It may sound crazy to fly half-way across the country in the opposite direction of your destination, but you may have to get away from your weather-affected airport to find a seat; as it is, you are competing with a lot of flyers in the same boat as you for a very few empty seats on later flights. Flying out of your way to a big hub may provide you with easier access to alternative flights.

5. Use a carryon and avoid lost bags

Your flight has been canceled but there’s one seat left on another plane that leaves in just minutes; wouldn’t it be nice if your baggage made the journey with you? Use a carryon and you won’t have to wonder where your stuff went. You’ll save money on fees, too.


Published: July 1, 2011