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Stuck at the airport? Request a hotel ‘distressed traveler rate’

If you find yourself stuck at an airport because of a weather delay, rerouting, cancelled flight, or other situation out of your control, and your airline doesn’t offer you a room voucher at a local hotel, you can request a “distressed traveler rate.” Typically, airlines contract a certain number of hotel rooms for personnel and stranded travelers, and properties offer overnight rates at a discount. These hotels are often near the airport, so you can easily get back to make your rescheduled flight.

Usually, your airline will refer you to hotels that offer these rates. But if availability is scarce or your carrier doesn’t contract with local properties, you can call hotels in the greater metropolitan area to see if they offer similar prices. Call your preferred hotel’s front desk directly, not a central reservations line. When calling, be sure to ask specifically for the “distressed traveler rate.”

If you’re not too exhausted from your ordeal, you may want to do a little legwork before taking the first “distressed traveler” rate you’re quoted. If you have access to the Internet, checking these rates against online-only prices may get you a better price. However, if you’re quoted a distressed traveler price that’s $100 or less, chances are you’re getting a decent deal.

And don’t forget to ask your airline for assistance, too. If they don’t comp your room or offer you the distressed traveler discount, you may want to ask for vouchers for a future flight or comparable recompense.

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