Simon Calder's Holiday Helpdesk: Have you any advice for travellers stranded in New York?

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Q My daughter is stuck in New York due to the storm. Her Delta flight should have been on Monday. I have contacted the agent she booked through, and they could not offer any assistance. My daughter has contacted her travel insurance and they refused to help. As a concerned parent I am looking for any help I can get. I would be grateful if you could assist. She has a few hundred dollars and her credit card.

Alan Armitage

A Sorry to learn of your daughter’s plight. She is one of tens of thousands of British travellers stranded as a result of “Superstorm Sandy”. And, judging from your message, she is not in a strong position.

Delta, in common with other airlines, has cancelled dozens of transatlantic flights because of the storm, and schedules are recovering only slowly. It will take some days before everyone gets where they need to be. Unfair as it may seem, passengers whose flights have been cancelled go to the back of the queue behind travellers with confirmed bookings flights that do take place. However, seats may become available at short notice so she should keep in touch with Delta on the toll-free line, 1 800 221 1212. In previous episodes of severe disruption, the backlog can clear more quickly than you might imagine.

Next problem: her accommodation in a safe location, and meals. Were she on an airline based in Europe, it would have a comprehensive duty of care to your daughter. American carriers have no such obligation. So she is obliged to take care of herself. Despite the travel insurer’s unhelpful response (it presumably does not offer a “rescue” service) the firm may well be liable to meet her expenses. You will need to check the small print and discuss it with the insurer.

If there are serious welfare concerns, the UK Consulate in New York City (001 212 745 0200) will certainly get involved, but I infer that she is in an unwelcome and inconvenient situation, rather than in distress.

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