Keeping Calm When Your Flight Is Cancelled

What do you do when you get the airport and you see this:

Every year thousands of flights are cancelled due to bad weather, often stranding travelers for days.  Nobody ever wants to be one of those caught in the middle of such a travel nightmare, but when it does happen, you can make your life SO much easier by following a few simple tips. 
Plan Ahead
Follow the weather before you go - and keep an eye on your airline's web site. Travel waivers for weather events are often issued days in advance - you can either make the decision to cancel your plans, decide to go earlier to avoid the bad weather or postpone it until a later date.
Buy Travel Insurance
Why add to the stress of a having your vacation de-railed by bad weather, only to also have to worry about losing money on your vacation. A good travel insurance policy will compensate you for significant travel delays, as well as for any hotel nights you may miss out on because of any delay or cancellation.  And, if you are stranded because of weather, they may be able to help you find a hotel or make alternate plans. Always keep you policy number and the insurance company's phone number handy while you are traveling. 
Fly In A Day Early For Cruises
If you are taking a cruise, NEVER plan that an airline will get there in time to make the ship.  When you book your cruise, always plan to fly in a day early so you don't miss the boat!
Call Customer Service Immediately
Have the phone number for your airline saved on your phone and call them immediately when you hear your flight has been cancelled. Do not wait in the customer service line. If you are traveling with others, have them call as well and the first one who gets a person on the phone can make the changes. 
Know Your Rights
If you flight is cancelled because of weather, the airline will likely not do anything to assist you. But, if they are in any way responsible (mechanical issues, personnel situations, etc.) they should compensate you for hotel expenses and meals - just don't expect to be staying at the Four Seasons!
Be Prepared
In addition to having your airline's phone number on speed dial, make sure you have other travel apps that might make handling your delay or cancelation easier - Hotel Tonight for finding a hotel quickly, Gate Guru for killing time stuck in the airport, or Flight Aware to keep track of delays on other flights in the area. 
When hundreds of flights are cancelled, thousands of bags are also in limbo.  Knowing where your bags are at all times is one less stress to deal with in a situation like this. And, you will be able to be a lot more flexible with standing by on flights that open up if you don't have to worry about checking your bag. 
Be Patient and Kind
Everyone is in the same boat and getting angry or yelling is not going to change the situation. As much as you would like to, it will not help. These are the days which are best handled with the utmost of patience. And, remember  the situation causing the delay or cancellation is not the fault of the airline employee at the counter.  Yes, they can sometimes be difficult to deal with, but being kind to them will help your cause a whole lot more than kicking and screaming! 
And, if you booked your flight through me... :)
Whew...aren't you just ready to hop on the next flight? Flying these days is probably the hardest part of traveling, but just think of how much fun have when you finally get to your destination!
For more travel tips, check out my Travel Tips Page.