http://www.bbc.com/travel/blog/20121217-pocket-sized-guides-to-flyers-rights If you are travelling for the holidays, be prepared – the chance of your flight being delayed or cancelled is higher than usual. Recent mergers, such as of United and Continental in 2010, and British Airways and Iberia in 2011, have led airlines to reduce service in North America and Europe, combining formerly overlapping routes to cut costs (and hike fares in the newfound absence of competition), resulting in fuller planes and fewer alternatives should something go wrong. In particular, only 14% of seats on average are expected to be empty on US flights over the next few weeks, so if you do find yourself stranded, it may be even harder than usual to get re-booked on a new flight. Add in the unpredictability of winter storms and you have the potential for what Germans call “Winterchaos”. Just think back to February 2011 when icy conditions in North America led to the grounding of about 20,000 flights, according to FlightAware.com, or December 2010, when snowstorms in Europe and the US led to about 8,000 flight cancelations.