Hurricane Sandy is expected to wreak havoc along the East Coast
over the next few days. For travelers, it's already a nightmare
because thousands of flights have been canceled.
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Last year when the earthquake in Japan disrupted people's travel
plans, I turned to travel expert Anne Banas, executive editor of
, to get her advice. I thought those tips would be worth sharing
again to help travelers whose flights have been canceled or who
might be stranded as a result of Hurricane Sandy.
1. Start by learning your rights.
If your flight is canceled due to weather, natural disaster or
anything not within the airline's control, you're only entitled to
a refund for the canceled portion of your trip. Of course, it never
hurts to ask for more (hotel or food voucher, a waiver of fees for
booking a new flight). You have more rights if it's the airline's
fault that your flight is canceled or delayed, Banas says.
2. Whenever you get an airline, hotel or other agent on the
phone who promises you something (such as a full refund), get the
person's full name and direct line.
If you don't seal the deal during that call, you risk getting a
different agent -- and a different response -- if you call
3. Don't give up if a customer-service representative
denies your request.
Thank him for his time and call back later. You may get a more
favorable response if you speak with another agent. If your travel
plans are disrupted because of a disaster, it may pay to wait to
contact the airline to give it time to develop a response to the
4. If all else fails, tweet.
Some airlines respond well to customer questions and complaints on
Twitter. Just don't be belligerent, Banas warns. For more on using
Twitter to voice your dissatisfaction, see
How to Get Airlines to Respond to Your
If you are stranded due to a cancellation ...
Sign up to receive flight alerts on your cell phone or vie
You can sign up at your airline's Web site or at
. If you're at the airport when you receive a delay or cancellation
notice, head to the nearest ticket counter to be the first in line
to get a seat on another flight.
Take advantage of free assistance.
Travel insurance company Travel Guard is offering free assistance
to U.S. and Canadian travelers affected by Hurricane Sandy. It will
help travelers who call (866) 644-6811 with flight rebooking, hotel
booking, emergency cash coordination and emergency medical
Find a hotel room
by using sites such as
. If you don't have Internet access, your next-best choice is to
head to the baggage-claim area and check the hotel board. Or you
can phone GetARoom's call center at 800-468-3578.
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