How to handle a flight cancellation

EDISON - (AP) - Hurricane Sandy is expected to make landfall Monday night or early Tuesday, likely in New Jersey. It will tie up with other weather systems and form a so-called superstorm. Airlines have preemptively canceled thousands of flights in New York, Philadelphia, Washington and elsewhere. But the storm's affects are already being felt far away from the East Coast.

Because so many airlines store planes here, passengers as far away as Los Angeles or Seattle could feel the impact.

Here's what you can do if your flight is cancelled:

- If your flight is canceled due to the storm, don't go to the airport.

- To avoid getting stranded, check your flight's status early the day you're flying, and again right before you head to the airport. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is encouraging travelers to make sure their flight will be departing before heading to Kennedy, LaGuardia or Newark International airports.

- If you're already at the airport when your flight is canceled, put your legs and fingers to work. Walk over to customer service. While there, dial the customer service number. Odds are you'll get help over the phone before reaching the front of the line. Still, in the case of Sandy, the best you might do is a cot, like those the Port Authority is promising to supply to stranded travelers.

- You can try asking for assistance via Twitter. Most airlines task employees with monitoring their Twitter feed. However, for this storm JetBlue has requested that people in need of help call the airline. Other airlines could do the same.

There are also a couple of financial basics to be aware of.

The airlines have waived change fees, typically $150, for flights delayed or canceled due to the storm. But keep in mind that airlines usually only waive this fee once. Be certain you want to change your itinerary before you lock it in. Otherwise, you'll be out $150 if you have to make a second change. You also might pay more for a difference in the flight's price

If you cancel your booking altogether, the airline might offer you a voucher for a future flight. But you can ask for cash instead.

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