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Thousands of flights canceled this winter: Here's what to do if yours is next

Daily Ticker

Another winter storm is pushing across the Midwest and Northeast, now through Thursday.

As the impact of an unseasonably cold winter on the economy continues to be debated, one thing is for sure: It's been tough for travelers. More than 74,825 U.S. flights have been canceled from Dec. 21 to the beginning of March, according to FlightAware.com.

Related: Never pay for baggage fees again and other ways to beat the airline industry

Reuters' Money Editor Lauren Young was recently stranded at the airport when her flight to LA was canceled. She decided to seek out some expert tips on what to do in this situation. Here's what she told us:

Talk to a human being. You want to get a ticket as soon as possible so don't wait at the boarding gate. Young says to go to the main ticket gate outside of security where there is more staff and they are better equipped to help you. And if you call up customer service, Young doesn't encourage anyone to lie, but she's heard you may be able to get a human on the phone faster if you need help with your "first class, roundtrip, international flight."

Complain. This obviously won't help you get out of town, but Young encourages travelers to file a complaint if your flight is canceled. She talked to a lot of people who got freebies like extra tickets or upgrades as a result.

Related: How to grab accidental airline fare bargains and other online pricing screwups

Fly before the bad weather. When airlines issue a travel advisory because of a weather emergency, try to get to where you're going as soon as possible. Young encourages fliers to reschedule flights as soon as they can, even before a weather advisory. Airlines have to pay huge fines if people are left on planes on the tarmac so airlines are more likely to just cancel flights rather than risk the fees.

Related: Top U.S. Airports to Be Stranded In During a Flight Delay

And if you want to know why there never seems to be more staff to help at the airport in a crisis like a storm, when lines are long and so many people need to be rebooked, check out the video to find out. 

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