Flight cancellations not only disrupt or ruin holiday plans, but also upend reunions. What should you do when your travel plan is cancelled or disrupted?
Flight cancellations and delays seem to be a norm this year with the lifting of Covid-19 travel restrictions, and now extreme winter conditions plaguing the northern hemisphere.
Other flight disruptions may be due to events such as, labour strike and staff shortage, plane mechanical issues, airport operation issues, natural disasters, and military actions.
What do you do when a flight cancellation and/or disruption is due to the airline’s fault?
Tips for Air Travel Re-booking
- Re-book for Free as quickly as possible for a seat on the next available flight with the airline agent at the airport or call centre. Some airlines allow you to use a self-serve kiosk to switch your flight and print your new boarding pass.
- Get a full ticket refund if you choose to cancel your flight. This also includes a refund of any luggage fees, seat upgrades, or other extras.
- Inquire about blackout dates and other restrictions if you opt for a voucher for future travel.
- Major airlines may waive change fees if cancellations are due to poor weather conditions that prohibit safe flying. Read the fine print on your ticket on change fees.
- Request to fly on another airline or from an alternative airport close to your original destination. Do your research before talking to an airline agent. Some airlines may offer land transportation if your final destination is a short distance away.
- Airlines may offer free hotel stays due to flight cancellations, although this option may not be mandatory for airlines. Check with their staff.
- Airlines have domestic and international help desk telephone contacts. If the domestic number is busy, try the international help desk, or reach out to the frequent flier telephone agent if you are a member.
- Even though you are frustrated, be pleasant and considerate when you talk to an airline agent. It goes a long way in getting your flight request done, and making the challenging situation a less stressful experience.
Future Flight Booking
- Save headache and time. Book a nonstop flight, and morning flight. If your morning flight is cancelled, chances are you would get re-booked on an afternoon flight.
- Travel on less busy dates and times.
- Allow for more layover time for connecting flights.
- Travel only with a carry-on bag if you can. You wouldn’t need to retrieve your luggage to check in another flight or avoid the hassle of lost luggage.
- Check with the airline and airport on your flight status prior to leaving home.
- For U.S. domestic, inbound and outbound international flights, check the website, FlightAware to track flight trends across the country.
Know Your Rights
Not sure what you are entitled to as an airline customer? Check out the respective government consumer protection information for air passengers below for Canada, the European Union, United Kingdom, and United States.
- Canadian Transportation Agency
- EU Air Passenger Rights
- UK Civil Aviation Authority
- U.S. Department of Transportation
Travel Insurance Coverage
Some credit cards offer travel protections including accommodation, meal reimbursement if a flight is cancelled or delayed. Most travel insurance also provides coverage for travel uncertainty.
It’s worth the investment especially when you have connecting flights to catch and unexpected events beyond yours and your travel provider’s control.