Dealing with flight cancellations

There you are, zipping up your luggage, rushing along the freeway at breakneck speed, pulling up at the airport in the nick of time…only to find your flight has been cancelled. Find out what to do if your flight is delayed or cancelled at the last minute.

Protect yourself

A cancelled flight doesn’t just affect the here and now, it also affects your plans at the other end too, including connecting flights, accommodation and tour schedules. The best way to protect yourself in the event of cancelled and delayed flights is to make sure you’ve arranged reliable travel insurance, either through a travel agent or a trustworthy online provider.

Don’t be last

It’s valuable to know that passengers who check in last for a flight are usually be the first to be bumped when a flight is oversold. Make sure you check in online at home 24 hours before your flight is scheduled to depart.

Read the fine print

Cancelled, rescheduled and delayed flights are the reason you should read the fine print before buying. Many airlines aren’t required to compensate passengers for damages when flights are delayed or cancelled. Airline carriers are allowed to make their own policies, and these are stated on their websites. Make sure to keep a printed copy of the airline’s terms and conditions as a reference in case you need to show it to airline staff. 

Seek reimbursement

Most airlines will re-book passengers in available seats on upcoming flights or schedule additional flights to help clear the backlog in the instance of delayed flights. If yourflight is delayed for an excessive amount of time, requiring you to remain overnight, airlines should offer to put passengers up in a nearby hotel.While you are in the airport awaiting your rescheduled service, you should also be entitled to refreshment vouchers at two-hourly intervals. Some airlines also offer reimbursement in the form of cash or vouchers to the value of a few hundred dollars, for both domestic and international flights. If either is offered to you, ask for the cash reimbursement. Check your airline’s policy to find out more.

Jump on Twitter

It pays to be on social media. More airlines are using Twitter to notify passengers of major flight cancellations, release up-to-date information and assist in rebooking. If you arrive at the airport to see that flight is delayed or cancelled and the airport staff are unable to help, continue checking in with Twitter to follow any updates.

Get moving

Sitting down for long periods isn’t good for your body but it’s unavoidable on long-haul flights. Your time waiting around at the airport for your delayed or cancelled flightmay be your only chance to get up and move around, so keeping moving. Check out the shops, take a walk outside or find a bathroom and take a shower.

Check on your bags

If you arrive at your layover destination to find your connecting flight cancelled, and youdiscover that your bags haven’t made it on or off the plane, be sure to act immediately. Report your lost luggage to airline personnel as soon as you can. Most airlines will try to return your bags within 24 hours but make no promise of reimbursement if the luggage is never found. In this case, it’s up to you to submit a claim for your lost baggage. The longer you wait to do so, the greater the risk you run of your claim being invalid.

Hunt and gather

If you’re going to be loitering around the airport for more than a couple of hours, you’ll want to find something to eat and drink. To locate the best eateries at the airport, just look for the restaurant that has the greatest number of airline staff. They spend a lot of time at airports, so you know that wherever they choose to get their coffee will be the best available.

What’s your top tip for surviving a cancelled flight?

Amelia Theodorakis
Amelia Theodorakis
A writer and communications specialist with eight years’ in startups, SMEs, not-for-profits and corporates. Interests and expertise in gender studies, history, finance, banking, human interest, literature and poetry.
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