Bathing suits, sunblock, camera, picture-worthy outfits and an awesome deal on last minute flights– you’re ready to set out on that dream vacation you’ve been waiting to go on for months! But, as luck will have it, a few days before your flight you hear the news that it’s about to rain on your parade… literally. Not only does this put a slight damper on your plans to get that killer tan, but it may also affect your wallet (yikes).
Recovering costs from trip cancellations due to natural disasters is never an easy endeavor. But that’s why you have us! If your upcoming travel plans happen to be affected by inclement weather, here are the steps you need to take in order to try and recoup some of your losses.
Connect With Your Airline
Depending on your airlines, you may have different levels of coverage. If you’re struck by a weather-related cancellation you may be entitled to a hotel stay, food vouchers, a replacement ticket (or none of the above). Have your flight and confirmation number on hand when you call or check the website to check on the status of your cancellation.
Social Media, Websites & Apps
A great way to connect quickly to your flight carrier is by following your airline on social media, checking an airline’s website to determining the status of your flight or by downloading their app. Once you’ve confirmed that your flight is canceled, logging onto your airlines’ app or to your account with them online can help determine whether you already have been booked on another flight. Many airlines also offer notifications via text message, email, or even Twitter! Airlines are speedy responders on social media, especially because it’s a public forum and they’d like to be viewed as responsive and fair by current and potential clients.
Give ’em a Call
By calling your airline directly, not only are you maximizing your means of communication, but you can also reach them quicker than by standing in line. Rather than waiting your turn to speak with a distressed employee, catch an employee that may not be having a terrible shift by calling your airline’s customer service line and see if they can figure out how to change your flight and confirm that your return flight is still confirmed— all before you move an inch in line at the airport. With this list of airline phone numbers, you can skip the line, whip out your phone and beat the masses when you call!
Read Up on Your Rights Before You Book Your Flight
Before you even book your last minute flights, you should know your rights. Most airlines have a Contract of Carriage, which outlines passengers’ rights, including things like delays and cancellations (check out this handy list compiled by Airfarewatchdog with links to the contract for major U.S. and international carriers). Although things like compensation, accommodation, and re-bookings vary airline to airline, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s consumer rules, U.S. airlines operating domestic flights are prohibited from allowing an aircraft to remain on the tarmac for more than three hours without deplaning passengers. In the case of a heavy delay, airlines are required by law to provide travelers with adequate food and drinking water within two hours of the aircraft being delayed.
Know Your Travel Insurance Policy Inside-Out
If your flight is canceled due to a natural disaster or your trip destination is affected by one (and you made the right choice and purchased travel insurance) chances are that there will be at least some type of coverage for your flight. Whether it’s reimbursement, future travel vouchers, a hotel stay or a replacement flight, it’s imperative that you check your insurance policy at the time of purchase. Many travel insurance plans that include trip cancellation/ interruption coverage will offer to cover some of your expenses that were lost as a result of canceling or ending a trip prematurely due to severe weather conditions. (And remember… once a storm is named, you can no longer purchase travel insurance to protect against it!)
Be sure to connect with your travel insurance company before you set out; ask all of your questions from the get-go, so you don’t land yourself in a situation where you’ve paid for insurance and also lose out on your hard-earned money and precious time!
Have any other travel tips and steps to add to the list? Let us know how you deal with weather-induced cancellations in the comments below!