SALT LAKE CITY — This winter has been a tough one on fliers. Airlines have cancelled more than 33,000 flights in the past three weeks alone.
That's more cancellations than we saw in January 2013 and January 2012 combined. Do you know what to do if your flight gets cancelled?
Traveling is Doug Wren's career. He runs three travel companies and hosts the KSL Travel Show on KSL NewsRadio. Wren said when you're about to fly, download the airline's app and sign up for flight alerts.
The sooner you get word your flight's been cancelled, the better.
"It's a way to instantaneously get those alerts," he said.
The instant you get word your flight is a no-go, Wren said get on your phone and start calling the airline's 800 number right away. The goal is to get booked on the next available flight right away.
If the cancellation is because of something in the airline's control, you're entitled to some concessions.
"If they can get you on the next flight, they may be giving you meal vouchers," Wren said. "If it's going to be an overnight or if it's going to take longer, they are responsible for your meals, your lodging, extra expenses that way."
Wren said people who have some status with the airlines, such as frequent fliers, will have the advantage here.
"If something goes wrong, you're the first one they're going to help, and they will help you," he said.
"I think Twitter is the only social media that I know right now that airlines have dedicated departments to customer service for damage control, for actually helping people out," Wren said.
But what happens when the airline's next available flight isn't until tomorrow, or the next day, or the next week? Don't expect them to book you on another carrier.
"They don't have to do it," Wren explained. "They'll do it for their best customers and maybe for the squeaky wheel, the ones that ask."
If the weather has cancelled your flight, all the airlines have to do is to re-book you on one of its flights. It doesn't have to give you a hotel or meal voucher.
Wren also said flexibility might keep you from having to sleep in the terminal.
"Can you go to Cedar, can you go to St. George? Can you go to Las Vegas, which (will give you) multiple options? Figure that out, find out how I'm going to be stuck," Wren said.