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Snow Going

Cindy Loose

Pity today's travelers: Airport closings due to wintry weather will likely clog traffic at airports around the country, even long after airports reopen. Even the rich and famous get as stuck as the lowly discount coach passenger, if that's any consolation.

What can you do, besides not much?

First off, screaming at the airline service personnel is not only unhelpful but can backfire, because an agent with 10 seats, 10 nice customers and a screamer might just find that those 10 seats would be best used for the nice customers.

If you're standing in an airport line, one thing you can do while waiting to see an agent is to call the airline -- you might be able to book something by phone while waiting. That means you're basically cutting the line, but being more savvy seems within ethical bounds to me. You might also want to think about flights to alternative airports; customers arriving from other cities, for example, who offer to fly into either Reagan, Dulles or BWI might be significantly increasing their options.

Another good strategy: Know your airline's policy about putting you on a different carrier if its flights are running late. Unfortunately, that often doesn't work well in a bad weather situation, because all the airlines are pretty much in the same boat.

FYI, at last report, both BWI and Reagan National are open for business, with delays, while Dulles is still working to clear its runways.

(UPDATE: As of 12:25 p.m., Dulles was opened for incoming traffic, but things likely will remain backed up for some time. Anyone who hasn't left for the airport should check the status of their flight by calling their airline.)

Here's a rerun of some of the sites you can head to for the latest information:

For current airport delays: www.faa.gov/passengers, www.flightarrivals.com.

For local airport info, www.bwiairport.com for BWI and www.mwaa.com for National and Dulles.

You can track almost any commercial flight, airport traffic and other real-time aviation stuff at www.flightaware.com and www.flightexplorer.com.

For the latest on weather coast to coast: www.weather.com (a great guide to travel conditions here or where you're going).

If you're going to be on the road, see the Federal Highway Administration's National Traffic site at www.fhwa.dot.gov/trafficinfo.

And finally . . . how are your travels going this morning? Share your tales here if you need to vent.

By Cindy Loose |  February 14, 2007; 12:06 PM ET  | Category:  Airline Industry , Cindy Loose
Previous: Wintery Nix: Where to Turn When Weather Wrecks Your Travel Plans | Next: A Hefty Dose of Skepticism

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Best advice I ever got from an airline ticket agent was to ask the following whenever there was a delay, cancellation, lost reservation, etc. "What would you do if you were me?"

Works every time. Don't get mad - get a flight, get a seat and sometimes get an upgrade.

Posted by: Jack on Track | February 14, 2007 12:45 PM

Best advice I ever got from an airline ticket agent was to ask the following whenever there was a delay, cancellation, lost reservation, etc. "What would you do if you were me?"

Works every time. Don't get mad - get a flight, get a seat and sometimes get an upgrade.

Posted by: Jack on Track | February 14, 2007 12:45 PM

I find it difficult to believe first class travelers are in the same boat. If there are 500 stranded passengers, I imagine the first ten to get flights to a given destination will be the ten first class fliers.

Posted by: Jennifer | February 14, 2007 7:39 PM

I can't begin to tell you the number of times I've seen screaming, irate passengers get onto the "standby" list . . . as in stand by and maybe I'll get you on a flight this week. The nice, quiet, patient (but still insistent) route has worked for me every time, even if it does mean a delay or a somewhat scenic tour of the Midwest.

Posted by: midmichchris | February 15, 2007 11:30 PM

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