TODAY   |  February 28, 2014

Get your vacation to go off without a hitch

Travel + Leisure’s Jacqui Gifford visits TODAY to offer tips on how to help smooth out your travel plans despite the wild weather this winter.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> here with answers is jackie gifford, a senior editor at travel and leisure magazine . good morning.

>> thanks for having me.

>> it's been a tough winter for travel and a lot of headaches out there for travelers. so let's go first to bridget in florida. she's joining us on skype. morning to you, bridget .

>> good morning.

>> there we see you. i understand bridget had a problem, traveling with three small children, plane had an emergency landing due to a mechanical issue. and then tell us what happened next.

>> yes, so we landed in a city we weren't supposed to land in. they said we're going to get another plane. and a few minutes later they said they don't have another plane. so we have to call an 800 number to rebook.

>> and you're there with your three small kids.

>> yes, 11, 7 and 3.

>> jackie, what should bridget have done?

>> bridget , i'm so sorry to hear this happened to you. but really your rights as a passenger in this situation depends upon whether or not the airline considers this a forced major event. being an act of god, something uncontrollable like the weather. it's actually really hard to get some form of compensation back from the airline.

>> did they say it was a mechanical issue?

>> yes, it was mechanical.

>> so if it's mechanical.

>> yes, actually, you do have a little bit more leeway in terms of getting compensation. the lesson here is that airline rules vary and it depends upon the agent you're talking to. so some airlines might say, look, we can offer you a refund, a credit in the form of a voucher, miles. and some may even say, look, it's just our responsibility to get you to the destination on the next flight out.

>> bridget , did you get any of those? compensation or anything?

>> no, i didn't. i did talk to the 800 number representative and they told me i had to wait until the next morning when the ticket office opened to deal with it then.

>> i guess the lesson to be learned here really is that it isn't -- there isn't a black and white answer, but you have a case to be made. you should call the airlines, be proactive, state your case, and really, you know, and be polite but be assertive.

>> thank you so much for sharing. we've got a tweet from brenda. how to get dollars back.

>> oh, my gosh, that's an unfortunate situation, too. what anyone should do is go right downstairs and ask to speak to the front desk manager. they are trained to handle these types of situations. and look, they want happy customers. hotels are in the hospitality business . what you should do is bring out the paperwork. so if you've booked a certain category of rooms, you want a sea-facing room instead of a city view room, make sure it's all spelled out very clearly and bring it to the front desk and say, look, i paid for this, but getting this. maybe even take photos so you can show them. and also --

>> proof.

>> exactly.

>> and really, it helps to be polite. resorting to threats is tempting, but really not the way you want to go. they want you to be a happy customer.

>> at the end of the day , marriott made good on it, breakfast charge taken off. the take away here is do this at the start of your stay.

>> right.

>> do it right away.

>>> next travel issue, a question coming in from travel and leisure 's facebook followers, and she wrote, do ticket agents have a way of telling whether you brought a plane ticket directly from an airline or other sources credit card reward programs. if so, does this affect how airlines handle rebooking passengers when flights are canceled due to the weather or equipment problems? do travelers who purchase directly from airlines get priority when rebooking?

>> this was a really interesting question. and we looked to two experts, brian kelly and george from and agents can tell where you booked the ticket through the airline or with an o.t.a, but when it comes down to it, that doesn't make a difference in terms of rebooking passengers on a canceled flight. what does, though, if you have elite status or you're a top tier frequent flyer with that airline or flying first class.

>> exactly, al. exactly, they're going to want to rebook those people first.