The first major blizzard of 2015 is at hand, this Monday (26) and Tuesday (27) of January. It is forecasted to bring in heavy snow and strong winds. So, for all those bound or leaving the Northeastern United States (New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and new Jersey), expect widespread travel complications, flight cancellations and massive power outages.
Since this this will not be the last for the season, travelers are advised to get news updates beforehand and to accordingly heed the warnings of the National Weather Service or your own weather forecasters. If you are caught in the airport or in the destination, it will be necessary to stay calm and to be ready. Learn a few tips from Laura Begley Bloom’s blog, “The Blizzard of 2015 is Here: What Travelers Can Do to Protect Themselves” posted in Yahoo Travel.
In the blog, Bloom narrated the experiences of a few travelers stranded because of this strong snowstorm
…Rob Perez … is stranded in Las Vegas for the second year in a row. “Flight has been rebooked, motel stay extended…
Bernard Gershon’s United Airlines flight from Miami to New York was canceled…
And the New England Patriots celebrated earlier Monday with a going-away rally, before heading to Boston’s Logan Airport to board flights to Arizona — just in time to beat the storm.
These are just three stories; there are more. After all there are 5,000 flights cancelled
What can you do if you find yourself in this situation, whether you’re traveling by air, car, train, or you are to book a hotel? It will be easier if you know the following information:
- Most airlines are offering full refunds for those who can’t make a rebook. The airlines are also waiving rebooking fees if a passenger can’t rebook obviously because there is widespread power outage and communication lines are down.
- There are a lot of affected passengers; expect to wait and to fall in long queues. Use the social media to get through your particular airline. If you can afford it, hire travel agents who know the drill and have well-placed connections.
- If you need to be in your destination within the week, make sure you have provided your airline with your contact details. Make sure you are booked before leaving for the airport.
Trains and Cruises:
- The operations of Amtrak’s Northeast Regional service and The Acela Express between Washington and Boston have not been disrupted but there will be fewer runs, particularly north of New York. If passengers are cancelling, they may also be issue refunds or if they want their travel rescheduled, they can request to be accommodated in other trains.
- Those holidaying by cruise need to call their travel agent or the liner itself regarding their policy for refunds, if you have no choice but to miss its sailing schedule. You can also call your insurer if it covers missed cruises.
If you are taking a car and you’re hit by the blizzard on your way to a destination, it is good to be ready to take a U-turn and find a safe place to stay. If you are stuck already, be prepared to face the snowstorm. This is why, it is important to anticipate and make sure that your car is roadworthy and equipped with emergency kit and gadgets during the season.
According to the Disaster Center, that should include:
- Several blankets or sleeping bags.
- Rain gear and extra sets of dry clothing, mittens, socks, and a wool cap.
- Extra newspapers for insulation.
- Plastic bags for sanitation.
- Canned fruit, nuts, and high energy “munchies. Cans of broth or soup. Non-electric can opener.
- Several bottles of water. Eating snow will lower your body temperature. If necessary, melt it first.
- A small shovel, a pocket knife, and small tools, such as pliers, a wrench, and screwdriver.
- A small sack of sand for generating traction under wheels, a set of tire chains or traction mats.
- Jumper cables.
- A first aid kit and necessary medications.
- A flashlight with extra batteries.
- A candle in a metal can or other fireproof container. While candles are generally not recommended in disaster situations, having one in your car can be a source of heat and light if you are stranded.
- A brightly colored cloth to tie to the antenna.
Around this season, it is also important to book hotels using credit cards with a built travel insurance cover to cover lost reservations, just in case you don’t get to your destination as scheduled. If not, make sure you have a list of alternative places to stay just in case you may extend your stay when stranded.
You should be aware of the standard rates so you’ll notice the difference in case the hotels would do price gouging. Know your rights; report the matter to Better Business Bureau.
For more “Top Safety Tips for Surviving the Blizzard of 2015” check out this post in CBS news.