With more winter weather ahead this week, Travel Leaders Network travel advisors have rounded up some top tips to help travelers get to their destinations safely.
Skip the first and last flights. If you're traveling during seasons with a high likelihood of inclement weather, you may want to avoid the first or last flight of the day since these flights have a higher frequency of being canceled, depending on the start and end time of the storm.
Reroute a connecting flight. There are times the weather in your departure city and at your destination is clear, but weather in your connecting city is less than desirable. If that happens, a travel advisor can help you reroute your connection flight through an airport with no delays.
Take advantage of travel waivers. Often airlines will issue travel waivers that allow you to rebook your ticket away from the affected dates at no additional charge. You should take advantage of these when they post. Your travel advisor monitors these, but you can, too. For the largest airlines, check here: Delta; United Airlines; American Airlines; British Airways; Virgin America Policies.
Avoid booking flights at the ticket counter. If you must buy a new ticket, avoid doing so at the airport ticket counter, or else you will likely pay a higher rate. Call a travel advisor to book you, even if you are standing in an airport.
Consider larger airports and travel light. If you suspect there may be severe weather threats during your time of travel, consider flying from a larger airport. Larger international airports will have a greater chance of more alternate flights, and they are also better equipped to clear runways faster or with de-icing of a plane.
Pack carry-on with necessities. If you travel with only a carry-on, you'll be in a better position to change flights quickly in the event of a cancellation. If you must check luggage, make sure your carry-on has essential necessities, such as all of your prescription medications and a couple of changes of clothes. If you're flying to a warm-weather destination, include your swim wear so you can relax by the pool or on the beach while the rest of your luggage catches up with you.
Hotels offer cancellation waivers. If severe weather will keep you from arriving at your destination hotel, your hotel management is often quite accommodating by offering cancellation waivers to help you avoid no-show or late arrival fees. However, do notify your hotel as soon as possible if you will not be able to make it to your destination, or contact your travel advisor who can reach out to all of your reservations, from car rental to hotel or group tours to let them know.
Book a room early if you're facing an overnight delay. If it seems weather conditions will keep you from getting to your final destination that same day, it is important to make a room reservation for an overnight stay as soon as possible. A travel advisor who has built relationships with hotels should be able to help find you a room so that you're not sleeping on an airport cot with stranded travelers.
Sign up for travel insurance. For those instances where you may miss a flight because you were stuck in traffic or your ship sailed without you when your flight was canceled or delayed, travel insurance can be your saving grace to recoup all or part of your travel investment. A Travel Leaders Group travel advisor can help explain your various options for the different types of travel insurance.
Get travel advisories or weather alerts delivered to your phone. There are several apps that allow you to receive email or text message notifications from your airline about your flight's status. A weather.com app can keep you updated about conditions. An all-in-one mobile solution such as Travel Leaders CONNECT, however, is an efficient way for business travelers to receive text notifications about flight delays, cancellations or gate changes. Live travel advisor are also available 24/7 through Travel Leaders CONNECT to assist with flight disruptions or flight reservations.
Stay on the main roads. If you're driving between destinations, stick to major highways or well-traveled roads to facilitate other people coming to your rescue easily should you need assistance. Travel also during daylight hours or when car repair shops or convenience stores are more likely to be open. If you're stranded in your vehicle for an extended period, run your engine for only a few minutes once or twice an hour to stay warm and conserve gas. While the car is running, be sure to slightly roll down a window to keep carbon monoxide from building up inside.
Pack an emergency travel kit. Whether you're driving, flying or traveling by rail, prepare for possible delays with a few essentials. Pack a small bag with an extra sweater, gloves or small throw, as well as water and high-energy or high-protein foods such as granola bars or beef jerky. You may also want to pack a toothbrush and toothpaste, a change of underwear and any needed prescription medications. Remember also a flashlight, extra batteries, or phone charger, a first aid kit and a good book.
Book with a travel advisor. "Weather-related travel delays inevitably happen at times, from heavier traffic on the highways to delayed or canceled flights," said Travel Leaders Group CEO Ninan Chacko. "However, the unexpected challenges need not stress out travelers with a little added planning and some advice from a seasoned travel agent. Our travel advisors are trained to monitor situations like winter weather that may impact their clients' travel plans. As result, they can work on alternative travel plans and can likely have those in place with the airline, hotel or car and driver the moment the need arises."