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What To Do When Caught in a Weather Delay

There’s nothing like Mother Nature to get extra, extra irritable to remind you that we’re all pawns at her disposal. Snowstorm, fuck you. So what do you do?

I should be glad for actual warmth given I’m not in the Midwest or Northeast. On the other hand, I’m hanging out in United’s Houston hub, pretty much stuck until I can catch the next flight to Los Angeles. Almost every flight this weekend is virtually full, if not overbooked. I have a better chance of throwing a snowball into the bowels of hell than flying standby on an earlier flight. Someone just has to fly me some.

The first thing you should do is to get in touch with your airline if your flight has been cancelled or delayed. Of course, everyone and their mom is also trying to make it to work on time, so if you can, use the airline’s website first. Many airlines are completely waiving change fees or even offering refunds for affected passengers.

If it’s absolutely necessary that you need to get where you’re going (trust me, everyone does), you can try joining the standby list. Some airlines do a pretty good job of publishing how full a flight is and how many people are currently on the standby list. To my knowledge, I know that United does this via their flight status page—use the origin and destination search—and it’s great if you come to the agent with an idea of the situation. Get extra bonus points for looking up your own flight schedules! Besides, what else will you do while you hold on the phone?

Unfortunately, you might be in for a little adventure. Do you remember when that volcano blew up and everyone was like omgz!! no one can travel because of the ash? Then you had to get super creative, and take like a boat, ferry, train, bus, mule and hitchhike with some Italian hippies to get to Barcelona from Somerset where there was finally an empty flight available.

If you need to find cheap last-minute accommodation, you should try family, friends, TripAdvisor, Airbnb, the HotelTonight app and sleeping in the airport in exactly that order. You should also immediately notify any reservations that may be affected — I was forced to hunker down $47 to extend my car rental by one day, but it was ultimately cheaper than reserving a roundtrip shuttle to just drop off the car at the airport. This is definitely where the extra travel insurance comes in handy, because, like, um, I’m running out of clean underwear.

As for staving off work issues, I’m particularly lucky in the fact that I work from home most of the time. The only bright point in all of this is, is that’s its universally messing up everyone’s meetings from San Francisco to Singapore. Unfortunately, when there’s no other alternative, you should just do the best that you can, whether that’s banging out something remotely or using it as an opportunity to have an extra day of vacation.

All I know at this point, is if airport officials don’t take barbecue bribes, it will take me at least until tomorrow to where I need to be going.

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