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October 31, 2012

Air travel tips after Hurricane Sandy

by: Mary F. Schiavo

Like many of you, I was trying to get home the night before Hurricane Sandy. I was lucky; and I’m good at running through airports, dressed for a sprint. I made the last flight out.

However, more than 18,000 flights were grounded due to Hurricane Sandy, impacting travel in both the U.S. and abroad. With most New York City area airports closed, and with about one-quarter of all U.S. flights traveling to or from the Big Apple each day, it is not a great time to take to the skies. Travel is slowly resuming, but the ripple effect has even impacted travel in London and Tokyo.

I have not always been so lucky (or so fast) and have had to wade and plead my way through airlines’ storm rebooking policies. As in many previous storm situations, the airlines have announced they will refund and will allow you to re-book without penalties or fees, but you have to act quickly. All major airlines have posted rebooking rules, and they all have deadlines and cut-offs on their kindness, some as early as this week. You must rebook by the deadlines or face steep rebooking fees or loss of your ticket’s value. Here are the links to the major airlines’ websites and storm rebooking policies:

Most important, of course, is that the flight is safe. It is always better to delay travel plans until dangerous storms pass. Therefore, when airlines cancel in the face of dangerous weather, passengers should cooperate in the interest of safety. It is good that most airlines are showing appreciation for passengers’ cooperation during in the storm, at least for a few days, by letting them rebook without penalties. Good luck in your travels, and may your next trip be hassle free.