In a catastrophic situation (September 11 or the Christmas Blizzard in NYC), don’t even go to the airport or, if you are there, get out! According to a news story as I am writing this Continental Airlines had still cancelled 170 flights to Newark, five days after the blizzard! If you were camping in the Newark Airport, you (and the airline employees) had no way to know on, say, Sunday, the flight they rebooked you on Wednesday would be cancelled four days later! In these catastrophic situations take a cab, a rental car, a hotel shuttle bus or whatever it takes. Get out!
Once you are out, what next?
In a catastrophic situation, forget the airlines. Find another way. Amtrak, Greyhound, rent a car – but do it quickly. I’d rather have my blog readers safe and sane! Wouldn’t you rather take a leisurely 2.5 days to get from (say) Chicago to L.A. on Amtrak rested and refreshed than risk seven frantic days trying to fly?
Here is the story of one man who did exactly that. Three years ago he got to O'Hare in a winter storm, found just about every flight cancelled and turned around and left. He then called Amtrak. His, and his family's, lives have never been the same.
A comment: I disagree with the author of the story as to the friendliness of Amtrak employees. I have found them to be uniformly pleasant and friendly. Not once have I ever been "nagged at" by an Amtrak employee.