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Today is another snowy day in New York, and it made me think of all the people waiting to get on planes coming into or leaving from the city. While it’s not rare to have a flight delay for weather or mechanical issues, a safe and quick ride is something many people take for granted. Unfortunately, these delays are frequent enough that not considering an alternative route home can mean waiting days to get back. If you know you’ll be stuck for a long time, either hours in the airport or days elsewhere, these are the steps you should take to get home.

Step 1: Determine a Timeline

The first thing you should do upon receiving news of a delay is find out why and for how long. You can ask at the information counter, or at the ticket booth in the terminal. At the very least, you should be able to get an explanation of why the flight is delayed, even if there is no set timeline. However, feel free to say that you would like to determine if there is a better way to get home and you may get some help from the right stewardess.

Step 2: Refund, if Possible

If you can’t get a refund, it may not be worth it to ditch your flight plans. If the trip is a quick 2-hour flight, chances are your tickets were inexpensive, and you may be in luck when asking for a refund. Even if you aren’t, these short flights may be more of a pain than they are worth.

Step 3: Check the Route

If you drove home or took a bus or train, how long would it take you? Is the weather bad, and if so, how confident do you feel in your alternate mode of travel? If you need to make a cross-country trip (say, California to New York), you’re probably better off driving. However, driving up a coast may not be so bad, although you will need to switch off with another driver or find somewhere to stay overnight. If you would be able to make the trip home in less time than your delay, you should seriously consider that option.

Step 4: Make a Choice

With all the facts available, you must now make a choice. There are a few other things to consider, though, such as: how many people you are traveling with, if you can rent a car or if you need to take a train or bus (which may also have delays), and whether you have money available in case of an emergency that comes up on the road. Obviously, this choice is already made for you if you’re traveling overseas, and if your delay is an hour or two, it is probably not worth the effort to change plans. Still, you must come to a decision at some point, so make that choice quick before other people make the same choice faster.

Being stuck in an airport is no fun, even when it means staying at a vacation spot an extra day or two. At the end of our travels, we almost always want to get home and relax before getting back to work, and a delay can take away that time. Don’t let it; know your facts and see if there is a better option for you.