Information may flow differently for small feeder airports.

Information may flow differently for small feeder airports. Photo by Christine Tibbetts

Between the freeze of the polar vortex, the blizzards dumping record levels of snow and the ice storms that have closed interstates and airports, traveling in the winter of 2014 means being prepared for travel interruptions, including flight cancellations.

Shared responsibility. That’s my travel light bulb flashing as I negotiated Atlanta’s paralyzing 2014 ice storm.

Multi-continent travel, or just a state away – daunting circumstances might arise. My insight perhaps is of value to your next family travel, and it surfaced because I was close to home.

Saved myself from being caught in the system because I was familiar with the system. Here’s the deal about my experience.

No doubt this applies broadly.

Two simple flights: small enough planes that pink ticket tags work; no overhead lift. You know that blessed drill.

Well-known airline first leg; small partner second leg, the one 40 miles from home. Savvy travelers check the weather, and the carrier’s flight check web page. For me, everything on time every web check.

Doubtful I was, having flown this route for years. Doubtful because of snow and ice in the deep south. Wondered and expressed concern to my traveling colleague, a metro-city dweller, savvy traveler.

Major insight #1 for flight cancellations

Impossible for metro travelers to understand rural travel.

Airport chaos after a calm cruise could call for backup plans.

Airport chaos after a calm cruise could call for backup plans. Photo by Christine Tibbetts

Hate to present myself as a fearful ninny, but refused to leave where I was, wrapping up a fine vacation, suspecting the worst. Tuned out two days of multiple cancellations, closer to flight time.

Major insight #2 for flight cancellations

Travel with phone numbers, names, e-mails, all contacts for last destination.  Flight cancellations may happen four hours out from flight time instead of full day ahead.

Major insight #3 for flight cancellations

Believe in Twitter. Or have unlimited on-hold minutes for your air carrier.

My experience cost 30 minutes on hold, then call-back for selection of return call.

@airline Twitter fast and helpful.

I have written thank you notes. Old fashioned still of value and often provides multiple contact numbers to use later. I had the phone number of the manager of my final destination airport only because I had tracked it down for a thank you for exceptional service last year.

Find airport art to while away unwanted hours in the terminal. Photo by Christine Tibbetts

Find airport art to while away unwanted hours in the terminal. Photo by Christine Tibbetts

Major insight #4 for flight cancellations

Travel advice isn’t always about booking or restaurants or adventures; manners fit in too.

The irony of having that GM phone number helped me determine flight would be canceled with a four-hour window but for those of us with multiple-connection decisions to make, four is not enough.