I just saw a video of a crowd going nuts at LaGuardia when their American Airlines flight was delayed/cancelled. It is not clear what happened. So what do you do?

Don’t get crazy. Get smart.

1- Start taking notes with names/times. Take photographs of the departure screen (with a date/time set on your phone/camera).  Example: the screen says delayed but the representative says cancelled. You will need to show in facts to complain.

2- Talk smart. Yelling is not the way. Keep your goal in front which presumably is to get to a destination.Do not be waylaid by “that airline owes me whatever”. What they owe you is a combination of legalities and a fact-based complaint. Keep insisting: how are you going to get me to xxx. If getting to xxx at a specific time is now impossible, focus on getting there or getting a credit if that is what you want. (via another gateway? another day with a transfer to a ship?). Airlines will often put you on another carrier; list alternative flights on your phone and ask for this. They might not volunteer since it costs $$. Get it clear that you are not paying nor will you move until you have a new reservation with a new record locator in your name. Holding ‘a certificate’ does not guarantee you a seat on another airline.

If you are on a tour or cruise, call the emergency number immediately.  If you have travel insurance, call the emergency number. This is  your team.

3- Keep away from the hysteria of the others. ASAP call the airline away from the crowd. That means you need to have the airline number and your detailed flight information handy. If you have status, go to the airline lounge and stay in front of the line for as long as you need while you are still holding for the airline. Can I go via Boston? Can I go via Newark? Can I go via JFK? Can I go????? The squeaky wheel is had to ignore.

4- If weather is the  problem. It is easy to find out if other airlines are flying and weather is an excuse. Google: Delta flight #123 from Laguardia to Chicago which is at the same time.  If leaving Miami weather is the problem, get flight information for Miami.  You need to keep your head. Keep stacking up evidence and make screen shots of your facts. Again: “if you are not flying, book me on Delta who is and here is the flight I want”….

5- You can take photos of the check in staff or video or tape what they are telling you. Do it quietly. You might want to prove you were polite. If you then need to go on a long line in another area: photograph it, time it. The more you notate, the more ammunition you have for your complaint and for real help.

6- If there is real bedlam or you feel threatened by airline staff, do not settle for airport security staff. You want the police.

7- Foreign airlines operating here are usually under the same regulations as US carriers. Don’t make up what you feel owed, get what they are giving you, keep notes and do your due diligence at home. Overseas this advice might not be accurate!

There are a lot of sites to help you with this dilemma but not at the moment it is happening:  FAA regulation sites and individual airline contracts of carriage.

Today’s advice: put the airline’s,insurance company, tour company and cruise company’s telephone numbers in your phone.

Travel Tips from The Women’s Travel Group.