(Hopefully) Helpful Hint: Plane Plan

The weather this year has been one for the Buzzfeed listicles — after ass-shattering cold and way too much snow all winter, we’ve now moved on to a new season we can complain about. For example, a tropical storm grazed the South and tornadoes blew through the Midwest in the past week. We talked about keeping prepared for hazardous road travel in January, so here are tips for dealing with flight cancelations when cranky Mother Nature once again destroys your carefully laid air-travel plans.

book2First of all, before you go anywhere, sign up for push alerts from your airline. You can get messages for your  flight, either through the airline’s mobile website or smartphone app. Should anything disrupt your flight schedule, the airline should push out a text message right away. Hopefully, you’ll get this alert before you leave for the airport. If you’re watching an incoming storm on your preferred weather app — and getting that sinking feeling that your flight the next day is about to get borked — turn up the volume for audio alerts for text messages on your phone before you go to bed. Even if you’re asleep, you’ll want to get the bad news as soon as possible. This is especially helpful if you get a notice from the airline saying your flight has been flat-out canceled.

cancelThe reason you want to get this message ASAP is because it gives you time to grab an available seat on an alternate flight long before those less tech-savvy people stuck on hold with the airline’s telephone customer service hotline. (It’s possible to get rebooked in as little as 10 minutes online.) When you get a cancelation message, look for a link that takes you right to the rebooking part of the website for the list of all the alternate flights you are eligible to take.

Once you get confirmation of your rebooking, you may need to make a few other arrangements – like, for example, extending your car rental period or booking a hotel room for another night. Discount sites like Hotels.com or Priceline.com are great for finding the inexpensive last-minute room.

shuttleHotels near the airport often have free shuttles to the terminal, so if you were getting around by mass transit or cab during your stay, you may be able to take advantage of this handy amenity. And check your hotel for other services that may be useful. For example, if you have to rebook on an early morning flight and go right to work — but all you have is a suitcase full of dirty clothes — see if the hotel has a laundry service or coin-operated washers and dryers on the premises. You can kill your extended time by throwing in a load so you have fresh duds for your dash to the office after you land.

There’s no app that can change the weather — yet. Thankfully, though, there are plenty of apps out there that can make dealing with it (and the upheaval of your travel plans) just a little bit easier.

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