How to navigate extreme weather on a trip

(NYTIMES) - Hurricanes Harvey and Irma are recent examples of how extreme weather can lead to endless flight cancellations and delays. Now, with the snowstorm season fast approaching, the threat of inclement weather disrupting the most well-laid travel plans continues to be top of mind.

While you can't control the climate, Mr Andrew Collins, the chief executive and president of private aviation company Sentient Jet, said there are ways to minimise the chances of it interrupting your itinerary. He also has advice on what to do when bad weather does intervene with your plans.

Take the Earliest Flight

On days when flights tend to be at or near capacity, such as Mondays and Fridays, and the day before a holiday, such as the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Mr Collins advised booking a ticket for the first flight of the day.

"If you're on the earliest flight, your aircraft is likely already at the airport, and therefore, taking off on time," he said. "Delays tend to increase as the day progresses, particularly when inclement weather in one area causes a ripple effect across multiple regions and airports."

Mr Collins also said that in winter, when there's always a chance of a snowstorm, travellers should book the first flight out no matter what day of the week it is.

A snowstorm in New York on March 14, 2017. Winter Storm Stella unleashed its fury on much of the north-eastern United States on the day, leading to thousands of flight cancellations. PHOTO: AFP

Know Your Benefits

When the weather does disrupt your travel plans, your credit card and loyalty memberships with airlines and hotel chains could come to the rescue. In the event of a flight cancellation, for example, some airlines have dedicated customer service agents for members of their frequent flier programmes, who can help them find alternative flights. Some credit card companies also offer this service to their cardholders. And, if a flight cancellation has you spending an extra day at your destination, your hotel loyalty membership could help you score a room at that brand's ostensibly sold-out hotel in town.

Ask to Be Rebooked

If your flight is cancelled because of inclement weather, don't wait for your airline to reschedule. Instead, Mr Collins suggested asking a customer service agent to find you a flight with another carrier. "Airlines don't advertise this option because they want to keep their revenues in-house, but it is something that they can do and could potentially get you to your destination faster," he said.

Chill Out

When bad weather puts a kink in your travel plans, it's easy to get agitated, but keeping relaxed, Mr Collins said, will make the situation seem more manageable. Find an airport lounge or consider an on-site hotel room to wait out a delay, rather than fighting the crowds at your gate.

And, while you're waiting, use a meditation app like Headspace, which can help keep you calm.

Or, try Mr Collins' favourite way to decompress at the airport from the stress of challenging travel: "I use my Amazon Prime and Netflix memberships to binge-watch my favourite shows on my laptop," he said.

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