When your flight doesn’t fly

So your flight was canceled, says Kelli B. Grant in SmartMoney.com. You’re not alone. Amercian alone “has cancelled more than 2,400 flights since Tuesday, grounding some 250,000 passengers.” And several smaller carriers have ceased operations altogether. What to do? First, check in early, and check in online. If your flight is canceled and it’s “weather-related or otherwise out of the airline’s control,” you’re entitled to a refund—just “don’t hold your breath.” Airlines are “more generous” if it’s their fault. But if the airline’s kaput, “your ticket is just a worthless piece of paper.” If you paid by credit card, call your card company. Paid by cash or check? “Sorry, you’re out of luck.”

The long, shallow U.S. recession

Today’s “Americans are unaccustomed to recessions,” says The Economist in an editorial, especially ones that involve “shopping less.” In the past 25 years, the U.S. has only had two recessions—they were “short and shallow,” and “consumer spending barely skipped a beat.” But this recession looks different, as the “doughty American shopper” is being hit by slumping housing, higher fuel and food prices, tight credit, and rising unemployment. There is “guarded optimism” that the U.S. “can avoid a deep slump.” But don’t expect a “vigorous recovery.” The “hangover from the housing bust” will probably last “years rather than months,” and that will “cause all sorts of problems.”