How to survive an airline meltdown

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More than 100,000 travelers have been affected by Delta Air Lines’ operational meltdown over the past two days, and the cancellations and delays are expected to extend into Wednesday morning.

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Newlyweds Nadia and Nathan Odiorne wait Tuesday in a sea of delayed travelers hoping to get refunds at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

It’s a good time for any traveler to consider how they might handle the challenge of being stuck in an airport for hours or even overnight.

Here’s what you should know:

1) Check your flight status on Delta’s website or via the Delta app. Delta said some systems were still operating slowly. Passengers can seek customer service at the airport, via phone or through the airline’s @Delta Twitter account. Wait times could be hours-long. Some people wait on hold while standing in line, and take whichever option comes first.

2) Baggage handling has been a chokepoint. Some passengers checked bags with Delta only to find out later their flights were canceled, and those who want to fly at a later date or with another airline may be unable to quickly get their checked bags back. If you can avoid checking bags, consider that option.

3) Be prepared for crowded airport concourses and the potential for long waits. Consider options for food, drinks (such as an empty water bottle) and backup power for your phone, ipad or laptop in case power outlets are taken.

4) If you need to find a hotel and the airport-area hotels are all booked, keep in mind that from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport you can take MARTA to get to a hotel in Midtown, downtown, Buckhead or other areas. Note that MARTA trains operate 4:45 a.m. to 1 a.m. weekdays, and 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. on weekends.

5) Delta is now waiving certain change fees for customers who have flights booked for Aug. 8, 9 or 10 and want to change their travel plans. The airline has also extended the waiver to allow travel to be rebooked as late as Aug. 21. The airline is also giving $200 in travel vouchers to passengers whose flights are canceled or delayed more than three hours.


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