A lot has been made of Hurricane Sandy over this weekend and today. And its not much ado about nothing - with sustained winds of over 80 MPH, there is a lot to worry about for those living in the northeast. Out of concern for safety, our corporate headquarters in Philadelphia closed on Monday as a result of the storm. And according to USA Today, over 9,000 flights experienced a travel delay or trip cancellation as a result.
In this event, you will probably find yourself behind a trip delay or cancellation - there's nothing you can do about it. During times like these, personal safety takes absolute priority over getting where you want on time. So what if you can't get out that same day - I'll take the delay over getting caught somewhere in the storm.
So what should you do if you have a trip cancellation in the heart of a storm or other natural emergency? There are several things you can do to prepare yourself in the event you're caught behind a storm:
- Maintain your personal safety at all times
I cannot stress this point enough: before you even think about your trip cancellation, make sure you're safe and secure. And in the event of an emergency, always follow the directions of qualified emergency personnel. Your flight can wait - your life can't.
- Contact your travel provider for assistance
During Hurricane Sandy (and traditionally, throughout hurricane conditions), airlines are usually forgiving of flight change fees. In the event that you find your travel arrangements cancelled, contact your carriers - blogger Johnny Jet has their policies listed on their website. It is in their best interest to work with you to find a way to get you where you're going - and as long as you express patience and understanding with them during this difficult time, you would be surprised how far you can go (both literally and figuratively).
- Keep in touch with connections for updates
It can be very isolating being at an airport - especially when you're surrounded by new best friends all crowding around one monitor to gather new information. When stuck behind a trip delay, be sure you have a charged phone (or a phone charger) to keep in touch with all of those important to you. Coordinating your plans with work colleagues or family may be easier than trying your luck figuring it out with complete strangers.
- Monitor the developing situation
There are many websites you can use to keep an eye on the developing situation during a trip delay - especially when weather is involved. During Hurricane Sandy, Google prepared an emergency map with current weather readouts, emergency shelter locations, and projected storm movement. When Google does not have a page available, my preferred weather site is Weather Underground, for its many different real-time views and availablilty.
- Save your reciepts and contact your travel insurance provider
The main reason you have travel insurance is to protect your investment under trip delay and travel cancellation. In the event your flight is cancelled for more than one day and you need to eat, stay at a hotel, or make alternative arrangements, make sure that you keep your reciepts. In the event you need to make a travel insurance claim, those will be invaluable to you. Just make sure you know your travel insurance plan limitations. (Ed. Note: Our call center will be open tonight until 8 PM EST/5 PM PST to take your questions about travel insurance and assist you as needed - call us at (800) 937-1387.)
Travelling with a storm pending is not fun to anyone involved. But by keeping calm and preparing for the storm and knowing what to do when caught behind trip delay, you can make the event easier to weather. How do you make the best of a bad storm? Let me know your best advice in the comments below.