The Weather Waiver Gamble: What to do About Hermine?

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It is now common practice for US airlines to issue weather waivers that allow rebooking well ahead of forecast disruptions. These have varying degrees of flexibility.

Tropical Storm Hermine Delta Weather Waiver

The current New York area Tropical Storm Hermine waiver from Delta covers travel to and from the 5 New York area airports September 4-6, 2016. Travel can be rebooked with no fee or fare difference through September 9, 2016. Travel beyond that date is possible up to one year from date of original issue and is subject to fare difference, if any, but no change fee.

These weather waivers help many customers who have flexibility to adjust their plans. It makes things easier on the airlines, too, to reduce numbers of potentially displaced passengers.

The thing is, it probably hurts the customers airlines profess to love most: the high spending travelers who don’t have flexibility in their plans.

My wife and I are Diamond Medallion without big spend. We’ll suffice as a proxy for the real high flyers. We are out for the weekend and partly selected Delta over United for our Labor Day return because we need to be back on Monday, she for work, me for onward travel. Delta runs two flights a day on our route, United runs four, so maybe that was a bad call. No other airline has nonstop service.

Once the weather waiver was issued, the Tuesday and Wednesday options on Delta vanished. The flexible travelers gobbled them up. Now we are playing the waiting game hoping we get back on Monday, even if delayed. In case of normal cancellation our elite status would get us first dibs on the next alternate flights. In weather wavers, by gambling on original schedule, the stakes have raised to either Monday or Thursday.

As far as I know, Delta has no mechanism at this for protecting us on other flights without dropping the original. I did call in to try in case an agent knew a way I didn’t. Nope. Maybe other airlines do.

Maybe there is something karmic about airlines that so often stiff the regular traveler to have a policy that can unintentionally penalize the big wallets the airlines profess to love.

Readers, do other airlines under weather waivers have a way to protect on multiple flights?

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5 years ago

AA does it, though it’s getting harder to talk them into it. They generally will only protect you for 24 hours.