What can passengers do if they get stuck?
Travel watchdog George Hobica shares tips on how to get by if your flight is cancelled
- Duration 9:50
- Date Oct 30, 2012
Travel watchdog George Hobica shares tips on how to get by if your flight is cancelled
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All right let's talk to George -- because now he joins us in New York City who is here to talk about what these passengers can do if they are one of the thousands that William was just talking about that are stranded in Georgia hate to make light of the situation.
About people drinking wine and the like because this really has been a nightmare.
And we've all been there when we're at the airport and we look up -- those boards and you see canceled canceled canceled canceled it is someone's really worst nightmare.
What is an airline passenger to do especially if as William was talking about some of the call times the hold times or 3040 minutes.
Well actually some of the art call times -- even longer I was on for two hours before I gave up with -- United Airlines.
Once managed to ours are up one strategy is -- have the airline call you back a United Airlines has a its web -- area where -- -- you putting your number and they will call you back and I got a call last night.
And about two minutes so that's the one way also tried Twitter -- delta assist for example.
Rather than wait on the phone I don't know why it's faster for them to call you then then they continue to call them but it is at least with the United Airlines.
Another thing you can do is simply cancel -- -- if your flight is canceled.
-- -- delayed.
You've got all your money back you get all your fees back.
Automatically so you don't have to be -- -- if in other words -- -- funeral is over and over the wedding is over or the vacation -- ruined.
You don't have to take the flight you can take to get all of your money back.
Another thing you.
You -- George yes.
And I'm sorry to -- judges wanted to point out that that's something I think that that people should also realize is -- the whole thing regarding checked baggage.
Because you know sometimes people don't even think about it but they put their medications which is not never a good idea.
They put their medications and toiletries and things like that -- the checked baggage and then have a flight ends up being canceled -- delayed sometimes the airlines can't get your back.
Then you don't have that really important stuff so that is also something to consider to -- -- those items with you right.
Never put anything valuable are necessary in your check back.
But the good news is sort of that the airlines treat preemptively canceled the flights -- flight to Los Angeles which was supposed to leave to date was counseled on Saturday.
So people are not showing up at the airport and being stranded there are being stranded here in New York the sidewalks are full of foreign accents foreign to foreign languages people who are stranded.
Who can't get home to Oslo -- got home to to England.
But most people.
Who are heading out to the airport.
There flights were canceled way ahead and the reason that airlines are doing that I -- -- to avoid those very expensive tarmac delay -- The problem is that there aren't that many seats available and you may have to take.
Red eye flight like I was we put on a red eye flight and I said no thank you I said give might give me all my money back.
Give me -- -- back -- -- switch to another airline and got the flight that I wanted I'm leaving on Thursday supposedly but I'm not sure that's gonna happen because JFK is still closed.
And they're not going to be able to bring planes in to what where they they had them in safe harbor.
I I'm not thinking I'm gonna get out anytime soon.
So I -- -- George that's a good point.
-- -- it's a good point because.
It is it's a domino effect all right if -- started getting canceled you know yesterday the day before -- you have all of those people that were scheduled.
And then you have that the next round of people that were scheduled to go out and it just builds on top of each other so once the airports finally open which as you said -- not even open yet in New York City.
But once they open it is going to take days and days and days.
To sort of iron all of those kinks out as you -- Right and parlay Casey because there aren't any planes in the New York area they are a kind other places -- -- have to be kind of -- and -- to the New York area.
And Grande fueled and and the catered and and crude rude they have -- crews here as well.
So it's incentives.
Previous -- is out there with whoever cascade effect because what would happen is flight will be canceled and new York and therefore of the flight from Houston would be -- -- what the airlines have done -- they remove all the planes in the danger area but they sought to get them back and they have to get the crews here as well so -- that's what they're faced with.
Georges is also something where you know it's it's even it's it's felt even more so because.
We know that the airlines have all been struggling and and we've all read and and heard about how.
You know more planes have been taken out of service and because of that the airlines simply don't wanna fly airplanes with fewer people fewer bodies in the seats because I I don't know about you but it.
You know every time I'm on a flight it seems like every single seat is is full so fewer flights fewer options fewer planes and then when you have a situation like this I would imagine only compounds the problem.
That's true -- the airlines have eliminated tens of thousands of seats over the last few years with consolidation.
Aspect of consolidation though is that the airlines have more hubs to re route you went -- for example United Airlines used only we would be safe through Chicago.
Or through Washington now they can we -- you through Cleveland.
Or Houston because they combined with Continental Airlines.
So there are more options for re rooting for that is the silver lining.
I think that the real takeaway here is that if you don't want to take the flight you don't have to you can simply apply for a full refund.
And that does not just doing a storm period it's true anywhere.
At any time of the year if your flight is over two hours delayed.
Or it's canceled and -- have a non refundable ticket it is refundable I think that consumers -- did have to know that and also I should point out that the airline rules that sort of all over the place as far as re booking.
Some airlines allow you to book.
Throughout mortgage generous period than other airlines are southwest for example is allowing fourteen days from your original -- of travel other airlines are allowing to -- at the same fair.
Through November 7.
So another was even if you if that the fare is higher if there's no cheap fare you'll still be able to rebook through November 7 at your original -- There.
-- and then you point out something that's very important.
We're we're entering that time of year win when all of the snow starts fallen.
And you know do we start seeing all of those delays you know in areas like Chicago O'Hare a major hub for American Airlines places like Atlanta for major hub for delta.
It is where we're getting into that time of year already.
When we're gonna start seeing some travel delays because of the weather because of snowstorms and the like so.
You know that's good it is important to point out that consumers.
Understand and and read the fine print because the rules vary greatly.
By the carrier.
That's right and we're actually posting on the airfare watchdog dot com blog all the different rules for the major airlines which which -- very speaking of fine print -- -- a great time to check the fine print in your travel insurance policy where -- Smart enough to buy one.
Because if you are stranded here in New York City and you and you live in not Los Angeles and you're paying for a hotel.
I travel insurance will cover you not the entire amount of expensive hotel but it might be a 150 dollars.
The -- per day for example so it if you took out travel insurance good on you and and speaking of I'm traveling.
During the winter that is a great time.
To take out travel insurance and if you're traveling during hurricane season that is a great time to consider travel insurance as well.
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- George tell me about the travel insurance because I've wondered that myself looking at -- looking into it.
It's typically done through it through a different company and the carriers sort of contract that out -- is that right.
But I wanna know is that really worth it I mean if if you're going from JF -- LAX or something.
You know that's one thing couple hundred bucks typically but if you're booking a trip to Europe and you know that the ticket is 15100 dollars round trip and I would imagine.
You won't you might -- -- take out insurance but it's it's contracted out can you kind of walk us through that because I think that's sort of a mystery for a lot of travelers.
Sure the airlines now -- travel insurance and they do contract it out companies like access America or travel guard however I think you're better off going directly of those companies.
Rather than buy it through the airline because the policy is a slightly different.
Where the travel insurance really -- is not so much with your airfare.
But with your hotel and other expenses so if you -- in Los Angeles and you live in new York and you're stuck.
In Los Angeles and -- -- hotel that costs 300 dollars a night your travel insurance policy will cover.
Some of those costs not all of them unfortunately.
-- thing that travel insurance allows you to do in some cases if if it's -- council for any reason is you can cancel trip let's say you're going to.
The Bahamas or two two to make up and your flight was canceled -- hurricane.
Interfered with your your plans you can cancel the trip.
And get your money back.
Found that from the trip so that's another way that it can really help -- it doesn't help you so much with the air fare in all cases.
But it does help you with the other expenses on the ground.
George -- consumer travel expert and journalist.
Listen we really do appreciate you taking time out to come talk to us the second inning and give us some great insight.
On what folks are doing because I imagine there are a lot of frustrated people.
Out there and I guess patience is the key and I'm one of them I -- in LA right now I think.
Well I I hope you get home -- to get home but but again things for at least helping walk us through what folks can be doing any -- I appreciate it.