When flights get canceled, hotels fill up.

Travel agents say you should always be prepared for the worst.
First, you may have shopped online, but you should have a paper copy of your ticket just in case you are forced to change flights. It also doesn’t hurt to have a cell phone, making it easier to contact your travel agent or another carrier if your flight’s not taking off, agents say.

Know what other airline is travelling to your destination. Have an idea of when they leave.

The transportation department’s Web site also has some advice for stranded passengers, along with tips to avoid being one of them:

Consider booking a flight earlier in the day, when it’s less likely to be delayed. You’re most likely to get stuck overnight if you book the last flight of the day.
Try choosing a flight out of the least-congested connecting airport, and consider possible bad weather in the connecting city.

Call a day or two beforehand to confirm reservations.
Checking in early will keep you from losing your seat assignments or even your entire reservation. When flights are oversold, the last ones to arrive are the first to get bumped.

Finally, in the most severe cases–where the airline’s behavior is particularly egregious– you may have the right to sue the airline, and in many cases the airline will settle to avoid a protracted dispute. If you are even possibly thinking of this alternative, keep a good record of every detail involving your trip, particularly after things start to go wrong!