Massive winter storms are disrupting travel plans for tens of thousands of fliers coast to coast trying to get home this week after the Christmas holiday. Snow, thunderstorms, sleet, tornados and high winds have grounded planes in the nation's midsection and beyond.
By Wednesday evening, more than 1,100 flights nationwide had been scrapped, according to flight tracking site FlightAware.com.
Although passengers are pretty much at the mercy of Mother Nature and the airlines, there are a few things they can do to improve their odds of getting home more quickly if their flights are canceled.
• Consider buying a one-day pass to the airline lounge. It's a nice place to relax away from the crowd and there are usually free drinks and small snacks. But the real secret to the lounges is that the airlines staff them with some of their best and friendliest ticket agents. The lines inside will be much shorter, and these agents are magically able to find empty seats where nobody else can. One-day passes typically cost $50 per person
• If you miss your connection, know that you could be waiting awhile. The airlines will automatically rebook you on the next available flight, but with flights at near capacity, the next open seat could be several days away. Persistence and patience are the keys.
• If you're unhappy with your rebooked flight, get in line to speak to a customer-service representative. But also, pick up the phone and call the airline directly, go onto the airline's website and even consider sending a Tweet.