Winter travel delay survival guide

Anyone who has had a flight delayed or even cancelled around the holidays knows how frustrating it can be. In fact, frustration is probably an understatement.

That’s reminiscent of the Vacation and holiday rush that has passengers scrambling to get the last possible seat on already full flights. Pile on some kids, relatives, and no internet service and you have a recipe for disaster.

When you‘re in the thick of it, there doesn’t seem to be a way out. And you’re probably right, if you let it get that far. Here are some ways to prepare for the worst so that any delay doesn’t end in disaster.

Club Perks

Most airlines have club memberships for frequent fliers. This is usually too expensive for the average flier. However, during these hectic travel times, that membership may mean the difference between making it home to the family or not.

So shelling out a few extra dollars may be worth it. Also, credit cards now get in on the game. Some will allow access to lounges and other areas. This could be a life saver when plans go awry, getting you closer to the people who can make things happen.

Size Matters

When airlines begin deciding whom to cut, the small puddle jumpers are going to be grounded first. It makes sense that if they’re going to keep something in the air; it’s going to be the money makers. Also, large planes won’t get tossed around as much in the storms. While it may be cheaper to take the small charter planes throughout the year, winter may not be the time to skimp.

Early Birds

Another little known rule of airplane travel is that flights early in the day are more likely to keep their schedule. Small delays add up over the course of the day and winter weather advisories come out midday, causing problems for afternoon and evening flights but not the morning ones.


If you find yourself bumped, getting another seat on the next flight is next to impossible during the holidays. So it’s best to know which airlines work together. JetBlue and American Airlines will sometimes coordinate in emergencies. However, Spirit, Southwest, and Virgin will most likely never partner. So if Christmas is approaching and you have a choice between these, remember who will go out of their way to help passengers.

Keep it Calm

Let’s face it, things are going to go wrong this year, just like they did last year and the one before that. The key is to keep your cool and get through it. The agents you’re dealing with didn’t cause the delay, and especially in bad weather, really can’t do anything to fix it. What they can do is help guide you through the process of getting another flight or a rental car if necessary. So it’s important to stay on their good side and keep airport security off your back.

Airport Speed

Many travelers realize that the larger the airport, the better your chances of getting a flight in a pinch. This is especially true during the holiday season when shutting down flights, or overbooking, is a real possibility. In New York, JFK will be more likely to have flights taking off than say, La Guardia or Newark. With more runways to operate, the chance of getting a flight out will increase.

Travel Agent

Travel agents are an added expense that’s not an option for some, but they can definitely be an asset in times of need. When delays happen, your travel agent will work on your behalf to get you to your destination. That’s also true with the online accounts like Orbitz and Expedia. Use them to your advantage.

  • Donna is a travel enthusiast with a love of perfumes. She has been a blogger for over seven years and loves working in entertaiment industry @edictive Edictive are the leader in cloud production management.

Author: Muzi Mohale

Hi there, am your host and I blog about the tourism industry in South Africa. You're also welcome to contribute your expert content on matters affecting the industry. You can reach me on muzi[at]

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