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What happens in the event of a flight cancellation?

Dear Editors,

I’m flying out of Chicago on Thursday to see my family for Christmas, and storms are expected. What happens in the event of a flight cancellation? Is there anything I can do to prepare?



Dear Helen,

Since most flight cancellations during the holidays are due to bad weather, travelers flying over the next couple of weeks are at the mercy of Mother Nature. Aside from proactively changing your flight to beat the storm, which is a costly and impractical option for most travelers, the best thing to do is cross your fingers and hope for the best.

On the bright side, if there is an interruption in your schedule, you’re more likely to be delayed than cancelled. That said, the chance of a flight cancellation does shoot up during this time of year. The airlines main objective is to get travelers from Point A to Point B, though, so they will do their best to accommodate you on the next available flight.

In the case of a flight cancellation, here what you need to know:

  • Work directly with the airline to get on another flight to your final destination.
  • Sometimes calling the airline is faster than waiting at the ticket counter line.
  • Policies vary but airlines may waive change fees if you postpone your trip.
  • Airlines rarely offer refunds or reimbursements for “acts of God.”

Of course, there are ways you can better prepare for flight delays or cancellations, even though you can’t prevent them.

  • Always leave at least two hours in between flights to make up for potential delays.
  • Check your flight status before you head to the airport.
  • Allow extra time to get to the airport for slower than usual traffic on the roads.
  • Bring something to entertain you, especially if you’re traveling with kids.
  • Don’t check a bag. This makes swapping flights at the last minute difficult.

My fingers and toes are crossed for you and all those traveling this holiday season!

Happy (I hope!) Travels,


Find me on Twitter @jenngaines.

Editors’ Note: We’re here to help our fellow travelers, so if you have a travel question of your own, just ask! Each week, we’ll publish a response to our very favorite question from one of our readers. Need travel help now? Peruse Travelocity’s frequently asked questions.


My name: Jennifer Gaines, but my friends call me Gaines, Jenni-Dallas or just plain Jenn.

(Find me on Twitter @jenngaines)

Travel ambitions: It's my mission to visit each of the New 7 Wonders and to step foot on every continent before my next milestone birthday.

Greatest travel lesson learned: Find the local hangouts to experience the real, true culture of a place. During a trip to Europe, my friends and I spent several days with a French family in the small town of Vichy. We had a private party in their family-run creperie, feasting on cheese-stuffed crepes and sampling wine that we picked up in the Bordeaux region a few days earlier. Their English wasn’t much better than my French, which is limited to a few well-known phrases from Moulin Rouge and the question: Parlez-vous anglais? (I'm proud to say that I can spout this question off in several different languages, and luckily most Europeans do indeed speak English!) After a few bottles of wine, the language barrier was hardly noticeable (slurring actually sounds the same in French!), and we managed to swap stories about life in other places. What a slice of local flavor!

My most beloved place in the whole world is: My grandparents place in Texas. It’s a 10-acre oasis in between two sprawling cities: Dallas and Fort Worth. A creek runs through their enormous backyard, where Granddad built a deck over the water. The entire place is shrouded with all types of trees (mainly pecan), blocking the Texas sun in the summer. Dusk is the best time to sit on the deck, drink a glass of ice tea and watch baby raccoons from the spring litter surround their back porch as Gram feeds them bread (no lie!). There will be dozens of raccoons eating on any given night. In the fall, my family gathers in the courtyard in front of their house for an annual “weenie roast.” Granddad lights the bonfire, and we roast dogs and s'mores. Yes, y’all, we’re from Texas!

Favorite way to get around: Well, I’m not much of a driver. I get lost easily and my tires have never come across a curb they didn’t want to get to know a little better. But, I do enjoy cruising around and listening to music. That said, I much rather explore a place by foot (with my iPod in tow) for a more intimate encounter.

View that took my breath away: Coming from Texas (where the view is wide but there’s not much to see), scenes from my new home of San Francisco never fail to amaze me. The city is a pedestrian’s dream, but don’t forget to turn around and look behind you as you meander through its neighborhoods. You won’t realize it, but you’ll be at the tip-top of a hill and the ocean will suddenly seem to be at eye level. Take a drive through the Presidio and over the Golden Gate Bridge where even more stunning views await!

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