Published November 27, 2013
As travelers across the country hit the roads and sky to make it to their Thanksgiving destination, mother nature isn’t making the voyage easy.
The day before Thanksgiving is the busiest flying day of the year, and the northeaster that has worked its way from the Midwest is causing massive flight delays and cancellations across the country.
Those on the east coast and in northeast metropolitan airports will be hardest hit due to an impending nor'easter, says Jeanenne Tornatore, senior editor of Orbitz.
Transportation hiccups, reroutes and cancellations are unwelcome news to those anxious to make it in time to cut the turkey, but experts say knowing your traveler rights can help ease the pain this holiday.
"Those delays and possible cancellations, especially at major hub airports in Washington D.C., New York and Boston, can cause a ripple effect across the country," Tornatore says. "You need to watch out how the weather can impact you, even if you are not traveling to or from those destinations."
Many airlines have already started to waive cancellation fees, allowing travelers to change their flights to avoid a transportation nightmare, she adds. Delta (NYSE: DAL), U.S. Airways (NYSE: LCC), United Airlines, and JetBlue (JBLU) are among some of the major names to do so. Check with your carrier to see if this is an option, and potentially take advantage of it.
"Even if your flight is not cancelled yet, airlines are implementing waivers for cancellation fees," Tornatore says. "So if you are flying through D.C. and are worried you will be at the airport all day, you can proactively go ahead and change your flight."
It's important to remember airlines are not responsible for compensating travelers for inconveniences due to the weather. "They won't be obligated to put you up in a hotel if you can't get on your flight," she adds.
If you are at the airport and your flight gets cancelled, she says to get in line right away and try to get on the phone with customer service to get re-booked.
"Program the 1-800 number you booked your flight on [for the service or airline] directly into your phone," she says. "Oftentimes you can get someone on the line while you are still waiting at the airport. You want those options at your fingertips since this is one of the biggest travel days of the year."
Above all else, Tornatore recommends remembering to pack your patience.
"Bring entertainment for your trip. Also download travel apps to help you book hotels or cars, and make changes on the fly."