Flight delays and worse, cancellations, can really throw a wrench into your travel plans, especially over the holidays when airports are chaotic and flights are going out full. Here are my go-to tips, websites and apps to help you deal with weather delays and flight cancellations. RELATED: What to Do if TSA PreCheck Isn’t Printed on Your Boarding Pass

1. Research the weather
I don’t leave home without knowing the weather where I am and where I’m going—including at layover airports. I usually use accuweather.com and weather.com‘s apps. I also use myradar.com, an app pilots use and this hurricane app many Floridians use.

2. Check airline travel policies

If there’s a huge storm forcing mass cancellations, I check with the airline to see if they’ve adjusted their change policies due to the weather so I can rebook without a penalty and fly when there won’t be any hassles. Here’s a list of airline policies: Air Canada | Alaska | American AirlinesDelta | Frontier | Hawaiian | JetBlue | Southwest | United | WestJet | Every Airline Website and Phone Number

3. Check with the FAA
If there’s disruptive weather in any of the destinations relevant to me, I’ll then check the FAA’s (Federal Aviation Administration) Flight Delay Information – Air Traffic Control System Command Center. It lists general airport conditions at the US’s top 40 major airports.

4. Download your airline’s app
Most airlines have invested heavily in their apps so travelers can now avoid having to call the airline; pretty much everything can be done with just a few taps. This includes switching to another flight free of charge when things go south.

5. Sign up for flight notifications
Most airlines will sign you up automatically so be sure to put your phone number and email in your reservation. Don’t put your travel agent’s (if you have one). I always sign up for flight status notifications, offered for free by each airline. They will send you text or email messages with status updates so you can know you’re staying up-to-date. I also sign up for my loved ones when I’m picking them up at the airport.

6. Load up your phone
Be sure to load your phone with your airline(s)’s toll free phone number(s) just in case there is a cancellation.

7. Act quickly
If your flight is canceled and you can’t get your flight changed via the airline’s app then get in line as soon as possible. If you have access to a club, go there since the lines to speak to an agent are usually a lot shorter. At the same time get on the phone and call the airline directly. Usually the airline representative at the call center can rebook you on a flight faster than the chance to speak in person to a customer service or the gate agent. TIP: Be very careful if you Google an airline’s phone number since scammers have learned how to game the system. If you don’t know about this scam, read this story: Traveler Exposes Scammer’s Trick For Stealing Airline Passengers’ Money

8. Use X (formerly Twitter)

I also like to follow my airline and airports on X, formerly Twitter. On my X handle (@JohnnyJet) I have all kinds of lists including Airlines, U.S. Airports and International Airports. Most airports are not that active, so don’t get your hopes up, but there are a number of airlines that are amazing and some can even help you rebook by reaching out to them via a tweet. My favorite is American Airlines (@AmericanAir). They respond immediately.

9. Useful apps and websites
Like many frequent travelers, one of my favorite apps is TripIt.com. The site has a free version but their pro version is worth the $49/year if you travel a lot, as they notify you of delays, cancellations, gate changes and other flight details. In case there are mass cancellations, I don’t wait for an airline to reserve me a hotel room. I jump on it as soon as I know I’m spending the night (Hotelnumbers.com). My favorite app for last-minute hotel rooms is HotelTonight. In case I need to drive somewhere, I load my phone with phone numbers of car rental agencies (CarRentalNumbers.com) or use Uber/Lyft for short drives.

10. Get help
In case you’re in a real bind and didn’t book through a travel agent, you can call CrankyConcierge.com. For a fee, they will help you make other flight arrangements, find a hotel or transportation and assist you in resolving disputes.

Airhelp11. File a claim
AirHelp is a brilliant website, app and service that will help airline passengers around the world secure compensation for delayed, cancelled or overbooked flights to, from and within the European Union. AirHelp is an airline’s worst nightmare because they fight for those who are unsure of their rights, or don’t have the time, confidence or expertise to file claims. It doesn’t cost a thing if they don’t get you cash but if they do, they get 35% of your reward, which seems fair to me. I used them to get money back from a BUD-LHR-YYZ flight that the airline (BA) originally told me I wasn’t owed any money for. But then I tried AirHelp a year and a half later (you can file a claim up to three years after the flight in question) and received a check for $900 USD (it was for me and my wife to split)!

Snow ice deicing12. Buy travel insurance
I highly recommend getting travel insurance as soon as you purchase your trip because once a storm is formed, you won’t be covered. Also, buy your travel insurance from a third party because if you buy insurance, let’s say, for a cruise from a cruise line and they go out of business, then you, my friend, are out of luck.  I recommend first pricing out rates with InsureMyTrip.com since they are the Kayak of travel insurance and they have 28 suppliers. The company I usually go with is Allianz Travel Insurance since they are the giant in the travel insurance business with offices in 34 countries, spanning six continents so chances are they will have people on the ground no matter where you are in the world. Full Disclosure: I have previously worked as an ambassador for Allianz Global Assistance (AGA Service Company) and received financial compensation. InsureMyTrip used to be one of my sponsors.

I also recommend using a credit card with travel protection benefits to help. To be sure that you are covered, read the fine print and/or contact the card issuer to learn more.

I hope these tips are useful this week and don’t forget – most important of all, pack your patience!


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31 Comments On "What to Do in Weather Delays and Flight Cancellations"
  1. Florida RV|

    Thanks for the tips. Those are really good. I sort work in the travel industry and I’d like to use twitter more for our company. I actually haven’t ever had a airline cancelled before, I hope it never happens, but you never know. I work for a RV dealership in Florida, so most of our customers don’t worry about that, lol :)

  2. Rich|

    There should be a list of the airlines and hotels non-toll free numbers. If you are overseas and use an AT&T or some other pre-paid calling cards you cannot use the card to call a toll-free number. These numbers exist.

    Before I had a world-GSM phone, I had the Ft. Worth, TX, local, direct-dial number for American Airlines just in case. That was in the days when the 800-number didn’t work in Dallas-Ft. Worth and you could call it from Europe using an AT&T calling card.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Good suggestion. I will add it to the list.

  3. Andy|

    Great site. I came here after listening to you on TWIT show with Leo Laporte.

    FYI, add one more ‘L’ to the word cancellation in the title.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Doh! Thank you for pointing that out!

  4. Valerie|

    One other tip I’d add to your recommendations is to research your alternative options before speaking with a representative to rebook – this includes alternative flights and your airlines policy on rebooking with another airline. I’ve found that the ‘next available’ isn’t always the best option whether it be too short of a connection through an airport known for delays or a connection that makes you go in the opposite direction to get to where you’re actually going. Also, airlines are more likely to rebook you with themselves when rebooking with another airline may actually be within policy and a better option. If nothing, the research is a great way to pass time while you wait in line/on the phone for rebooking.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      I agree! And will add it in! Thanks

  5. Srin Kilaru (@srincomptr)|

    maybe i have been lucky but i never have had a flight cancellations in the past few years in fact when ever I check in with the delta app it tells me if I can’t make my connection or if there is flight delays or cancellations that it will rebook me if i choose too.

  6. James Cook|

    Thanks for posting this. Last time I traveled was pre-9/11 and having an upcoming business trip in January, I wanted to be prepared. I will be back!

  7. colleen|

    Seems like I read about a website used to check on the status of the incoming flight that will be your departing aircraft. Do you know anything about this site?

  8. colleen|

    Oops – finally found it. If you enter your flight info at “AirlineFlight Tracker” on FlightAware.com, a page opens up with a link to “Track Inbound Flight” just under your flight number. I’m happy to learn today that my incoming aircraft is coming from IAH and not NWR.

  9. Dave|

    Don’t always believe what the airline desk tells you and check back frequently. I usually fly the cheapest flight possible and recently took Spirit from Tampa to Phoenix and return, with a connection in Chicago. My return flight from Phoenix to Chicago was delayed by a storm that tore across the southwest, closing Dallas Airport. My flight was not until midnight, but I always try to arrive early. When I went to the airline desk they said my flight had been cancelled because it was coming in from Dallas and all planes there were grounded. They were rescheduling passengers 24-hours later on the same flight, and said my alternatives were to pay for my own hotel room or sleep in the airport–no compensation. I decided to wait and see what happened. When I checked back with Spirit an hour later, they said the information they gave me was incorrect, my flight would be an hour late taking off, but it was coming in from Chicago, not Dallas.

  10. Steve Solosky|

    Always have a good hotel app on your phone in case you get stuck. Also, it might be worth it to pay to use the airport lounge (if you don’t have access to it anyway). They have people staffing the lounge that can re-book flights for you without having to wait on those ultra long lines. They also have a great place to relax (TV, internet, usually free drinks or food) if you anticipate waiting around for a long period of time.

  11. Cristina Jones|

    I’ve checked your website and it’s really helpful. However, I think you haven’t included each and every airline phone number in the world. For instance, I couldn’t find Bulgaria Air.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Will add them!

  12. Carmen Everywhere|

    These are good tips Johnny. Just a thought, are you not worrying a bit too much? I mean should we not travel a bit more spontaneous. lol just saying. I guess we are all different in our ways

  13. UK Flyer|

    Hey Johnny… just a little update on point 7 regarding flight compensation… you can actually claim for a delayed flight, missed connection, flight cancellation and boarding denial up to 6 years previous! You don’t even have to know your flight number. If you use a no-win no-fee service as we call it in the UK then they’ll do everything and take a small percentage of the winnings. Even with the UK leaving the EU the EU261 ruling will still apply for the next 2 years (and will probably continue longer). Hope that helps!

  14. Scott R|

    Awesome tips! very useful – will be saving this blog as a favourite :)

  15. Crystal|

    Some really great advice in here, thanks for sharing. This is a problem I run into quite frequently on my travels and it can be very frustrating at times.

  16. Trupti|

    Thank you very helpful, post. Have experienced a lot of delays.

  17. Lili|

    There is a lot of good apps here that could work really well when travelling. Experiencing delay is always a pain, but if you do a good research and prepare for the journey on time, it can save you a lot of time and money. Thanks for the advice as a frequent traveler myself I found the “file a claim” part the most useful.I save it for next when needed, but hopefully it’s never going to happen. :)

  18. Jennifer Liepin|

    I can’t.

    I just can’t.

    American Airlines continually disappoints. Even famous traveler and chef, Anthony Bourdain, takes to Twitter to complain not only about the frequency of AA delays, but how unprofessionally AA handles informing customers of these delays. Many rankings of Airlines find AA at the bottom of the barrel, and yet, I booked my most recent flight from Big Island, Hawaii to Oakland, CA on American Airlines.


    The flight, with a connection in Phoenix, had been $200 cheaper than the competing Hawiian Airlines flight, also with one connection. I respect that, “You get what you pay for,” but almost every time I have booked with AA the flight has been delayed or cancelled.

    The evening of our flight, we received a phone call from AA notifying that our flight had been cancelled. No info on rebooking was provided other than a number we could call.

    This is where all the trouble started…


  19. Clarke Barrymore|

    That was a great article indeed and I could not wait sharing it with my friends but unfortunately this time I made my clam through claimflights.co.uk but next time surely will use airhelp app.

  20. Eric L. Bolden|

    This a very informative article. I compare the energy of the airport with the bar. It seems to bring out the worst in people’s personality. When traveling, you are going to be faced with some adversity that most people aren’t ready to deal with. Articles like these are helpful since it provides you with some tools on what to do in those situations.

  21. Jack Brown|

    In such cases make sure you know your air passenger rights, EC Regulation 261/2004 allows air passengers to claim compensation up to 600€ in case of flight delays of over 3 hours or flight cancellation or denied boarding due to overbooking provided that reason of delay or cancellation should not be an extraordinary circumstance.

  22. Jody|

    From Southwest Airlines website: The Flight Status Notification feature will no longer be available after 2018. Any notifications set up prior will be unable to be modified once this feature is removed. But don’t worry—you can always check your flight status at Southwest.com/air/flight-status/.


  23. Lou|

    my niece , her husband and 2 small children (under the age of 4)had their flight cancelled coming back from Orlando.Florida . due to the airline over books all their fights all weekend . the only thing that they offered was a hotel room for the night and a food voucher for the airport, and a hopeful fight the next morning . what if any kind of recourse do the have?

  24. TDHill|

    Great tips. Looks like AirHelp is now 35% in 2021: “For all Claims, the Service Fee is 35% of the received Flight Compensation, including applicable VAT”

  25. Larry Cummings|

    I took us 24 hours to get home from Jamaica in January on Delta and 30 hours on AA to get home from Grenada 3 weeks ago. I’m ready to quit flying.

  26. Michael Joseph Brunelle|

    Back in June of 2022 I booked a round trip flight with China Air to go to the Philippines departing from LAX. My flight was canceled by the airline in July, my tickets were for travel in November. Here we are, it is the middle of November now and China Air still hasn’t refunded my ticket purchase. I don’t know how they can get away with this.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Crazy. File a complaint with the DOT

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