7 ways to be a savvy traveller

Thousands of frustrated passengers across the country are stranded because of bad weather, and some may be wondering what they could have done differently to reach their destination.

Tips on how to avoid travel headaches when delays leave passengers stranded

Exhausted passengers catch some sleep at Pearson airport in Toronto after extreme cold weather caused flight cancellations and long delays on Jan. 7. (Dave Donnelly/CBC)

Thousands of frustrated passengers across the country are stranded because of bad weather, and some may be wondering what they could have done differently reach their destination.

Canadian law says airlines are not responsible during bad weather, they are only responsible once the weather ends. But there are things travellers can do to protect themselves.

The following are some travelling tips to ensure bad weather doesn't completely ruin your travel plans.

1. Check your credit card coverage

Many credit cards come with travel delays insurance. That insurance could cover everything from up to $500 in food and accommodation coverage to paying for a flight on another airline. The insurance kicks in if you're delayed more than a few hours.

2. Buy admittance to the airline's lounge 

There is a charge, but the upgrade will give you access to booking agents dedicated to getting you to where you want to go.

3. Travel with a smartphone or tablet

Not only does a device give you something to do while you wait, it's also a useful tool.

Preloading vital travel numbers — such as a number for your airline, travel agent, hotels and car rental agencies — can save you some time trying to make plans. When a storm grounds flights, you'll want to be able to book a hotel near the airport as quickly as possible since they fill up fast.

It's a good idea to follow your airline on social media for the latest updates and to load you airline's app before you hit the road. 

For example, if you need to find a hotel fast, Expedia and Travelocity can find a reservation quickly, without any time on hold. If you need a new flight, Kayak is an app that shows every possible route home.

With that in mind, make sure all of the device chargers you need are in your carry-on.

4. Book with a travel agent that operates 24/7

Never underestimate the human touch. Travel agents have all of your necessary travel information on file and re-book you a lot quicker than standing in line with everyone else.

5. Travel light

Should you get stuck, travelling without checked baggage removes the problem of lost baggage from the travelling headache equation.

If you are checking bags, it's a good idea to keep a change of clothes, medications, a portable pillow, a toothbrush, deodorant and other essential toiletries in your carry-on.

6. Book an early flight, if possible

Earlier flights are less prone to the cascading effect of delays and cancellations on other flights — most of the time.

Also, non-stop flights reduce the risk of delays at multiple airports.

7. For those who are already stuck

Once the weather clears, airlines are required to provide a meal voucher for delays over four hours — and accommodation if the delay is more than eight hours and overnight.

They are also required to provide a flight home, eventually.


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