Nearly 6,000 and counting. That’s the number of flights cancelled as of noon today. Already this year, there have been more than 71,000 cancellations—and we're only six weeks in. If you want to get a sense of what this means for travelers across the country, just take a look at FlightAware’s aptly named Misery Map (above), which highlights not only where the bottlenecks are worst, but also how they’re impacting the rest of the aviation system.
If you’ve got an airline ticket for the next few days—or have any important travel scheduled during this wild winter—we’ve got some advice for navigating the storms.
Tips for Travel During Stormy Weather
1. Stay informed and be the first to know. Sign up for text and email alerts about flight delays and cancellations from your airline and services such as FlightStats. And be proactive about checking their websites, Facebook pages, and Twitter handles for updates; sometimes it can take a crucial few hours for a text message to arrive. Get a sense of what’s happening with live flight-tracking service FlightAware’s cancellation page.
2. Airlines have worked to get ahead of storms in recent years by cancelling flights in advance and waiving fees for rebooking (which can be up to $200 for domestic tickets). Your best bet is to take advantage of that cancelled flight right away and book the first flight out of your destination for when the storm is scheduled to be over.
3. Be your best advocate. Get on the phone, get in line, or pay for a day pass at an airline lounge (about $25 - $50, if you’re not a high-ranking member of a loyalty club) to reach someone at an airline who can assist you with switching flights. Use the Seat Availability tool on Flightstats to look for other options if your flight is cancelled (remember that just because your flight is cancelled, doesn’t always mean all flights to a particular destination are).
4. Something to keep in mind for future: as you’re booking a trip, make sure to purchase travel insurance, especially if you’re flying in winter. And be sure to get it before the storm is named—otherwise you’re too late.