I can't believe I never knew about it, but I just found out about a wonderful resource for frustrated air travelers. This is particularly handy for those of us in the northern hemisphere, since we're getting into the height of over-booked, under-experienced travel: summer vacations.
The resource I learned about is the "Coalition for an Airline Passengers' Bill of Rights" (CAPBOR). They can be reached in the US by phone at 1-877-FLYERS6 (1-877-359-3776), and they are staffed by volunteers who specialize in helping you deal with problems you encounter during air travel. Add it to your address book, just in case.
CAPBOR helps you understand your rights, formulate your requests in the best way to circumvent rigid airline policies, and if you have a canceled flight they will even help you find out flight status / alternate flights, help you book hotels and car rentals, and find out weather information.
You can find out more about CAPBOR and their mission at flyersrights.com, and learn about the services they can offer. They also have an excellent blog at strandedpassengers.blogspot.com. Both are well worth checking out.