Blizzard 2010: tools and tips for those stuck at the airport

Snowflake

With an east coast blizzard underway on Sunday evening, trains, buses, cars and airplanes were at a standstill and several airports in the New York region closed down entirely.

The cancellation of thousands of flights to and from the east coast means major disruption elsewhere as well, so traveling anywhere on Monday and Tuesday – and no doubt later in the week – will be no picnic.

For those of you stuck at an airport or trying to figure out how to avoid ending up that way, here are some tools and tips that may be useful.

*Take the waiver. If you’re scheduled to fly in the next few days and your flight hasn’t already been canceled, chances are your airline is offering to let you change flight plans without a change fee. Do it. When planes do start flying, you’ll have a reserved seat while travelers from all these canceled flights will be working their way up standby lists.

*Make sure you’re signed up to receive all the Twitter, Facebook, email and text alerts being sent out by airlines and airports on your itinerary. In many cases that information is more up-to-date than the information available inside the airport.

*Bookmark airport websites, download airport and airline apps (i.e. GateGuru, Flightstats.com) and the airport guides I created for USA TODAY. In this case, information will definitely be power – or at least useful in helping you keep up-to- date and knowledgeable about your surroundings.

(Finding a power outlet and keeping your cell phone or laptop charged while you’re hanging out at the airport might be a challenge – so ask someone to do this for you at home as well.)

*Make sure you have supplies: if you’re going to the airport, be sure to bring snacks, books and other items to keep you entertained, a charged cell-phone, a change of clothing, something you can sit on (and perhaps sleep on) and a bucket of good humor and patience. A lot of this is going to be out of everyone’s control.