As I sat on the floor of Gate C 138 at Newark International Airport at 6:35 last week, desperate to get on a flight - any flight - to Chicago, I wondered what travel experts would do in my situation.
Stormy weather had grounded my flight out of John F. Kennedy the night before, but intent on beating the system, I booked a new flight the next morning out of Newark. But alas, it was cancelled just 15 minutes before boarding. Refusing to give up, I got on the standby list for the next flight, but being at the very bottom of said list, I never made it out. Defeated.
Here’s a woulda-shoulda-coulda for future airline annoyances from some trusted industry sources.
GET REBOOKED ON THE FLY.
While your first instinct when you see that your flight’s been cancelled is to fall down and cry (and by you, I mean me), realize that time is of the essence if you want to arrive at your destination before next week.
“You have two good options,” says David Lytle, editorial director of Frommers.com. First, avoid going back to the ticketing agent inside the gate, or the assigned ticketing agent to handle the cancellations. After all, everyone’s going there – expect a super long wait. “Leave the security area and go back to the front counter [near the airport entrance],” says Lytle. There are more airline agents our front and lines move faster. While you’re waiting in line, call the reservations desk to boost your chances of speaking with a live agent. Or, if you don’t want to go through a second round with the shoe inspector to get back into the secure area, head to a nearby gate with fewer people in line. The agents can at least get you on a stand-by list for the next flight. And if they’re in the mood, they may also be able to rebook your flight. Smile and be patient. In my experience, a cranky passenger gets served nothing but attitude.