5 Tips for Winter Weather Flight Delays and Cancellations
January 22, 2024
By Mia Barnes

Winter weather can bring about flight delays and cancellations, which can be frustrating for even the most seasoned travelers. Here are five tips to help you navigate the challenges of winter travel.

Stay Informed

First, you’ll want to download the appropriate airline app for real-time updates on your flight status and rebooking options. These apps can be lifesavers amid travel disruptions.

Keep an eye on the weather forecast for your departure and arrival cities in the days and hours leading up to your trip. Use reliable website sources like the National Weather Service to stay updated.

Book a Flight With Flexible Policies

Booking flights with flexible change and cancellation policies allows you to adapt your travel plans if unforeseen delays or cancellations occur. Flying a day or two before a major holiday can reduce the risk of delays and cancellations, so plan accordingly.

Additionally, opt for early morning flights when possible. Winter storms tend to intensify later in the day, increasing the likelihood of delays.

Pack Essentials in Your Carry-On

Packing essentials in your carry-on can help you maintain your comfort and well-being during unexpected flight disruptions. Here’s what to include:

  • Medications: Ensure you have prescription medications with you. Keep them in their original containers, and carry a copy of your prescription.
  • Toiletries: Pack a small toiletry bag with a toothbrush, toothpaste, face cleanser and moisturizer. These can help you freshen up during extended waits or if you’re stuck overnight.
  • Change of clothes: Include a change of underwear and a spare set of clothes in your carry-on. This can be a lifesaver if your checked luggage is delayed or lost and you want to stay comfortable.
  • Snacks: Pack your favorite snacks. Nonperishable snacks like granola bars or nuts can keep you full during delays when airport food options may be limited or expensive.
  • Entertainment: Bring entertainment options like a book, magazine or a fully charged electronic device with headphones. It’s an excellent way to pass the time and stay entertained during long waits.
  • Travel pillow or blanket: A travel pillow or blanket makes it easier to rest, especially during overnight delays or layovers.
  • Power bank and charging cables: Ensure your devices stay charged with a portable power bank and the necessary charging cables. This is essential for staying connected and entertained.
  • Important documents: Keep important travel documents such as passports, boarding passes, travel insurance details and a copy of your itinerary in a secure, easily accessible pocket of your carry-on.

Know Your Rights as a Passenger

You must check the specific regulations and laws that apply to your situation. Additionally, your rights may be influenced by the type of ticket you purchased, so review your ticket’s terms and conditions.

Passenger rights regarding flight cancellations and delays can vary by country and airline, but some common principles often apply. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Right to information: Airlines are typically required to inform passengers about delays and cancellations, including the reason for the disruption and estimated duration.
  • Right to assistance: Passengers are entitled to assistance depending on the length of the delay. This may include meals, refreshments, accommodation and transportation to and from the airport.
  • Right to refund or rebooking: If your flight is canceled, you generally have the right to choose between a full ticket refund or being rebooked on the next available flight to your destination.
  • Right to care: Passengers experiencing long delays are generally entitled to “care,” including meals and accommodation, if necessary.

Stay Hydrated and Well-Fed

You’ll want to remember to fuel your body while waiting for a delay. Food and drinks might be the last thing on your mind, but keeping yourself hydrated and healthy while you wait is important. Doing a little research into the restaurants and food options available in your terminal can greatly enhance your airport dining experience. 

Handling Flight Delays and Cancellations

While winter can present challenges for travelers, being prepared and informed can significantly impact your travel experience. Remember these five tips — you’ll be better equipped to handle flight delays and cancellations gracefully and easily. Safe travels!

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About the Author

Mia Barnes
Bio: Mia Barnes is a health and wellness freelance writer with a passion for providing safe, healthy, and practical travel and lifestyle tips. Mia is also the Editor-in-Chief of Body+Mind Magazine, an online healthy living publication.