In light of Europe's mass flight cancellations, I think it's worth spotlighting some of the helpful pointers that Budget Travel readers have recently posted about how to handle rebookings.
If your flight is cancelled, and you're told you can be booked on the same flight the next day, ask to be put on the standby list—even if you're told they're full for the rest of the flights that day. This happened to me in February at JFK and I told the agent to go ahead and put me on standby anyway because I would be sleeping at the airport. Lo and behold, he came up with a ticket for me on the last flight they had that evening!
Reader marottad adds:
Patience goes A LONG way—even if you're screaming on the inside. After all, even if it's not your fault you missed the flight, it's not the agent's fault either. So losing your cool with the one person who can help you is just stupid. Last year I missed a flight out of Newark because of delays on NJ Transit. Every flight that day was overbooked, but I waited anyway. I'll admit I did let them see the tears flow as well. Finally, the agent got me on the last flight out and, to thank me "for being so patient," bumped me up to business class! Patience? Tears? Perhaps a bit of both. Either way, don't turn into a lunatic and they ARE going to help you.
Reader Annabel Nielsen (commenting on our post "What worries you when you travel?") offered this helpful perspective:
I worry about flight cancellations and lost luggage for the most part. It all started 5 years ago, I was scheduled on a British Airways flight to Barcelona. The flight was cancelled, and they put all of us on a flight the following evening, which totally messed up all the connections. In rerouting my connecting flight from Heathrow to Barcelona, they wanted to put me on a flight that was 6 hours later, making me lose 2 days of my trip. I finally got a flight that left in 2 hours but they couldn't pull my baggage from the original flight destination. Then it took them 7 days to get me my baggage. I had literally the clothes on my back, during the hottest summer on record. Now I have a few clothing articles in my carry-on, but that experience has made insanely paranoid about lost luggage since.