Are you prepared to travel during the (potentially wild) winter season?
Delta already issued its first winter travel waiver, thanks to a storm expected to dump a foot of snow in parts of the Midwest.
This is a good reminder to start preparing for winter travel. The upcoming months are predicted to bring a “smattering of cruel weather.”
AccuWeather released its winter forecast for this winter. Things really don’t look pleasant for the eastern half of the country. From the sounds of it, temperatures will be c-o-l-d. And if this weekend’s weather is any indicator, there will be plenty of winter storms, too.
And even if you live in the west, keep in mind that when travel backs up in the east (or most places, really) it affects pretty much everywhere else.
Here are a few ideas we have to help you deal with winter travel.
Credit Card Trip Delay and Trip Interruption Coverage
Pay for your trip with a credit card that includes trip interruption and travel delay coverage. You can be reimbursed for reasonable expenses accrued during something like a weather delay of at least several hours.
Simply pay for the expenses with whatever card you used to charge your trip.
Keep in mind it says “reasonable expenses.” Treating the family to Ruth’s Chris during your delay probably isn’t the best idea. Same thing with hotels (don’t expect a free Ritz-Carlton or Four Seasons stay) and transportation (choose Uber, Lyft, cab, etc. over limousine service.)
For Chase, a qualifying delay must be 12 or more hours. Some cards with trip interruption and delay benefits include:
Chase Ink Business Preferred Card (Plus, earn 3x on travel for up to $150,000 in combined purchases each anniversary year)
Chase Sapphire Reserve Card (Plus, earn 3x on travel, $300 annual travel credit and Priority Pass membership)
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2x on travel)
With Chase, you don’t need to pay for all of your airfare with an eligible card. Merely a portion of it.
Starting January 1, 2020, select American Express cards will offer trip delay and interruption coverage. However, all of your airfare must be purchased with an eligible American Express card in order for you to use the benefit. (H/T: OMAAT).
Amex cards that will reimburse you up to $500 for delays of six or more hours include:
Hilton Honors Aspire Card
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card
Cards that will reimburse you for delays of 12 or more hours include:
Get Travel Insurance
Travel insurance also covers delays and interruptions.
Not having travel insurance last year cost me over $600 in medical bills and trip delay costs. (Separate incidents.)
Winter ice causes slips, trips, spills, and falls.
Those incidents cause sprains and broken bones — which can be expensive, depending on your medical insurance plan. (Trust me.)
I personally hold a policy through Allianz — but likely will move to Travelex when my Allianz policy expires. I’ve read Travelex offers better protection and options. (Do your homework and selects whatever policy works best for you.)
Carryon If at All Possible
I usally try to only carryon on my luggage (don’t forget the great Travelpro rollaboard deal!) That being said, I’m not one those Instagrammers who live out of a backpack for weeks on end.
When delays or cancellations strike, you want access to your clothes, toiletries, etc. Having them with you makes things easier when things go sideways.
And if your flight gets canceled (or delayed to the next day), you’ll be one of the first to get a cab or snag rideshare while everyone else waits for overwhelmed ground crews to sort through luggage.
Airport Lounge Access
Packed airports full of delayed passengers are miserable places.
Airport club lounges are less miserable. There’s access to food, beverages, WiFi, and power outlets.
Many credit cards (which also include trip delay insurance) give you complimentary access to airport lounges.
Contact the Airlines Directly
While standing in line waiting for gate agents to rebook you on another flight, call your airline. They may be able to help you faster than the gate agent who’s being screamed at for causing bad weather.
Send a Direct Message Tweet to Your Airline
Airlines’ Twitter staff can be pretty good at helping you with some travel problems. Granted, when a massive storm hits they, too, will be slammed. But it can’t hurt to ask them for help.
Earn Free Travel if Possible
If your schedule is flexible, you might be able to score some prime #Bumpertunities during winter travel when flights are oversold and storms cause chaos.
What Are Your Tips?
What advice do you have to share with your fellow travelers? Please tell us in the below Comments section!
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