Hurricane Sandy Travel Planning: What To Do When Storms Ruin Your Travel Plans

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Travelers on Delta Airlines look at a departure screen Monday, Oct. 29, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) | AP

Hurricane Sandy isn't expected to hit Canada until Monday evening but the massive storm is already causing all sorts of headaches for travellers in Toronto and Montreal.

Flight cancellations have already reached the hundreds as of Monday afternoon, with more expected as the class-1 hurricane passes over the Eastern Seaboard into Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes. The storm is expected to linger throughout Tuesday and combined with the closure of a major flight hubs in the U.S., Canadian airlines are urging travellers to be proactive with their travel plans, especially during strong storms.

"It's always good practice to know the weather conditions before heading out," says Brad Cicero, a spokesperson with Porter Airlines, adding that travellers should check on conditions beforehand to avoid a wasted commute to the airport. While the websites of air carriers and local airports will carry information regarding cancellations, it's best to check with carriers first as they are the ones who ultimately decide whether a flight gets cancelled or not, according to the Toronto's Port Authority.

Travellers with a bit more time may want to consider postponing or delaying their trip, suggests Cicero.

"They should reconsider their travel plans. You don't want to be stuck anywhere without airports, unable to leave the area and forced to stay in hotels that are limited with little choice," said Cicero.

As for people who find themselves stranded in an area undergoing natural disasters, their best hopes is to wait until the next available flight. However, from the airline's perspective, that may not always come the next day. In fact, stranded travellers are essentially at the whim of bookings as their chances of leaving are based on available seats, though airlines have been known to deploy additional flights if there are enough stranded travellers.

There is however a silver lining within Sandy's severity: the storm has prompted major airlines like Air Canada, Porter and WestJet to waive rebooking fees to and from destinations affected by the hurricane. Flyers with Air Canada rebook online, while WestJet and Porter customers can do so by phone.

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