Snow storms are probably the worst nightmares for air travellers, especially during the holiday season.
Over the past year, adverse weather conditions have stalled thousands of flights across the globe and left several thousand passengers stranded. The worst of it came in the year-end with snow dampening the holiday spirit across Europe and America. Even now, scores of passengers in U.S. continue to curse their luck as the worst December snowstorm hit northeast.
The storm that hit three days ago has closed major airports, led to 8,000 flight cancellations, and affected over 1.2 million passengers, according to the latest data. Media reports quote angry passengers venting out frustrations against the airlines. However, airlines enjoy immunity from situations arising out of matters deemed beyond their control. This also means that airlines do not have to provide lodging or food for passengers stranded.
Being stranded at airports, or being trapped in seats for several hours and having to live with the idea of snow disrupting your much-awaited and much-need holiday is, no doubt, frustrating. However, after a point, the you can only try to save their sanity. Here are some tips that may come in handy when stranded:
Pack with foresight
If you foresee, weather troubles coming your way, pack a few extra articles to help you during the wait. An inflatable pillow, thin blanket and an extra set of clothes in your carry-on will not only leave you feeling comfortable but will keep you busy as you would schedule sleep and other activites.
Share a hotel room/ Look for other accommodation options
If you do not want to sleep rough on airport floors and don't like inflatable pillows, look for accomodation in case your flight happens to be delayed for days. Sharing a hotel room is the best option considering that airport hotels are an expensive affair.To make it affordable, you can split the room with friends or companions.
If airport hotel is not an option that would work for you, then try local hotels at lower price range. Go with low expectations - all you need is a bed and a bathroom. However, this would include the extra trouble of finding a way to travel till the hotel, or finding out from the hotel staff if they could arrange for a pick up at an additional fee.
Try an alternate route
This may not work all the time, but is worth a try if the weather condition is only affecting a part of the region. For instance, in the current New York snow storm situation, re-routing through Washington DC would have helped on Monday as the storm had spared the travel services in this region.
Moreover, several airlines are waiving the ticket-change penalties for passengers who switch flights because of the disruptions caused by the storm.
Getting through to your airline during a snow storm or any other adverse situation can prove to be a aggravating and sometimes even a futile exercise. The best way to tackle this is by thinking international! If you happen to know a foreign languge, call the lines for the language. Otherwise, call the airlines' international ticketing offices. Even though it may cost you, the information can prove to be helpful.
Another option can be to get a relative or friend with frequent flyer benefits to call the elite line.
The best thing you can do to make the wait easy is by staying calm. Getting increasingly aggravated, venting out that anger in any way will make the whole situation a much more bitter experience for you, all the people around you, the airline and the airport authorities. Telling youself, repeatedly if need be, that no one really has control over weather would be the best way to metally tackle the mounting frustration. To keep your mind busy, just indulge in some technological diversions or catch up with some reading.