Winter is upon us, and in fact it seems like it's arrived early. That means flight delays and cancellations. Here are some tips to make your air travel easier when the flurries start flying:
1. If at all possible connect, if you must connect at all, via a warmer weather airport such as Phoenix or Dallas rather than Newark, Chicago, etc. and if you've already booked be proactive and see if you can change your connection via an airport less likely to get socked in. Get ahead of the storm.
2. If your flight is severely delayed and you don't want to go, or it's canceled, you can ask for a full refund. Airlines often offer to allow you to change your flight to when the weather clears but if there's no point in making the trip, get a full refund instead.
3. Arrive at the airport super early... if your flight is affected, there's a better chance you might get on an earlier flight or a different connection (if connecting).
4. Track your flight on Flightaware.com ... I find their flight tracking and alerts more reliable than the airlines' data.
5. Severe weather events are the best times to pay for a one-day airline lounge pass. It's more pleasant to wait, and the rebooking lines are shorter than in the terminals.
6. If you didn't buy travel insurance, check your credit card. People don't realize it, but many credit cards, especially those issued by Chase and Citi, offer free compensation for weather delays and cancellations -- they will cover hotel expenses up to the maximum allowed and any non-refundable hotel and other reservations. More on this here and here.
7. Although the first flights of the day mean you have to wake up super early, and they tend to operate with fewer delays, there's no guarantee that early flights won't be snowed in as often as later ones.
8. Sometimes it pays to combine transport modes. If Boston or New York are socked in and Washington isn't, maybe take Amtrak south and leave from there.