Just when our spirits were rising, there it came: the ominous three-hour delay.

My journey back to Minnesota from New York had already proved somewhat dramatic. Anticipating a major snowstorm, I had switched my original return to an earlier flight at the recommendation of Delta Air Lines. But the next day, my new flight was canceled before I even got into a cab. I was rebooked on a later route, but after arriving at JFK, my trip was disrupted once again.

Did I groan? Nope. I leapt into action. As passengers, we can't control cancellations and delays, but we can make the most of them.

Here are four tips for doing so yourself:

1. Download your airline's app. You often can get information from the internet quicker than you can from airline employees stationed yards away — because you're behind a long line of other travelers. Airline apps allow you to look for other flights on the same route and see how many previous flights on the route have been canceled.

2. When you can, carry on! Checking a bag limits your options. It's unsettling to rebook yourself onto another flight after you've sent your checked luggage on its way.

3. Educate yourself. Research weather in your destination city with its major media outlets, or follow your destination airport on social media. When MSP's Twitter account informed me that all runways had been shut down, I went ahead and rebooked, beating my fellow travelers to seating on my choice of flights and saving time (my original flight was later canceled, as I suspected).

4. Make just-in-case plans. Before heading to the airport, I checked available Airbnbs in the city and reached out to my previous host, who gave me a discount for an extra night. I didn't have to scramble to make last-minute plans, so I could focus on my gifted extra evening, enjoying a stellar meal and after-dinner stroll.

Amelia Rayno covers food and travel for the Star Tribune. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @AmeliaRayno