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travelFAB: What to do when your flight is canceled

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NEW YORK -- The relentless snow and ice storms this winter have led to the highest number of flight cancellations in more than 25 years, according to an analysis by The Associated Press.

U.S. airlines have canceled more than 75,000 domestic flights since Dec. 1, including roughly 14,000 this week. That's 5.5 percent of the 1.35 million flights scheduled during that period, according to AP calculations based on information provided by flight tracking site FlightAware.

It's the highest total number and highest percent of cancellations since at least the winter of 1987-1988, when the Department of Transportation first started collecting cancellation data.

Here are some tips on what you can do to minimize the impact of delays or cancellations:

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Flight alerts: Sign up for flight alerts with your airline. The earlier you know there's a problem, the more time you have to find other alternatives.

Watch for options to change your plans: Pay attention to the weather, and if you see conditions are going to be bad check your airline's website to see if they have enacted a flexible rebooking policy. Many airlines do so in poor weather. In a nutshell, the waivers allow fliers ticketed to certain airports to make one change to their itineraries with no penalty. So, if you can fly a day or two later — or earlier — it may be worth changing your ticket to move your travel away from when the storm is expected to be worst. Or, if you want to postpone your trip altogether, the policies sometimes waive the change fee and give you the option of using the value of your ticket toward a future flight.

Flexibility helps: If your flight to LaGuardia is canceled, for example, ask if there's a flight to Newark or JFK, or even a more distant regional airport such as Long Island or White Plains. It may be inconvenient, but it could be less of an inconvenience than not making it at all.

Flexibility helps II: The same goes for the return. Stuck in Chicago? A flight to your hometown might be canceled, but maybe catch a flight to a neighboring city. As long as you can arrange transportation, it may trump being stuck on the road.