Be Prepared for Winter Travel Disruptions

Posted on 02/07/2017

Winter weather can cause delays and cancellations for the traveller headed to sunny destinations. Here are some precautions that you can take.

Most importantly, you should have your trip protected by insurance. Not only will you be reimbursed if an unforeseen medical emergency prevents you from travelling, you will also have coverage in case you are prevented from getting to the airport due to road closures. Bad weather in one part of the country can impact flights in another and flight delays occur. You could be delayed and miss your cruise. Most insurance policies have coverage for those situations.

Avoid connecting flights and certain airports known for delays and cancellations. While connecting flights are often cheaper than non-stop flights, the chances of missing the second flight or your luggage not getting loaded onto the second flight increase significantly in the winter. Eastern seaboard airports are particularly susceptible to winter delays.

Choose large airlines that have multiple flights per day to your destination. While it can be tempting to use airlines like Sunwing or Transat for inexpensive flights to Florida, they only have one flight a day. If you are going on a cruise the same day and miss the sailing, you would be responsible for getting yourself to the next port of call. Airlines like Air Canada and WestJet that have multiple daily flights and arrangements with code share partners are a better option.
Take advantage of free flight changes when an airline issues a travel advisory due to weather. Air Canada will often issue travel advisories a day or two in advance of predicted bad weather. They allow ticket holders to make alternative fight arrangements with no penalty via their online booking tool or through the call-in centre.
If you are at the airport and your flight is delayed or cancelled, you have a few options. You can stand in line with hundreds of other passengers trying to rebook, you can call your travel consultant who booked your flight or you can use the airline app on your phone to reschedule your flight.
When delays and cancellations are weather related, the airlines have no responsibility to reimburse you for expenses you incur unless you are in the middle of a trip. For example, if there are no direct flights to your destination and the airline gets you to the connecting city and then cancels your onward flight, they should be responsible for expenses you incur. Realistically
though, you might be lucky to get accommodation at a reduced rate and perhaps a voucher for a meal.
If you find yourself in a situation where you are delayed, you will most likely incur expense for meals, taxis, hotels and such. Keep all receipts so that you can submit them to your insurance company, credit card company if you have coverage on your card or the airline.