4. Keep moving forward. Your flight to Washington, D.C., is canceled and there's little hope you'll get there in anything resembling a reasonable amount of time. But can you get to New York City? Boston? Philadelphia? If you're willing to fly to a neighboring city – and foot the bill for a rental car, bus or train ticket – you'll have more choices. Flexibility is key when you're desperate to get somewhere fast.
5. Do not check your luggage. Once you've checked your bags, your options become very limited. Travel light, and the airlines are going to be better equipped to assist you, whether it's by squeezing you into the very last seat to a neighboring city or finding you a seat on a different airline altogether. They can't, and won't, be nearly as helpful if someone needs to track down your checked luggage.