Flights can get cancelled for any number of reasons but it usually has something to do with bad weather or plane malfunctions. Check out these tips on what to get if your flight gets cancelled. These tips are geared towards travel in the USA so rules may be different in other countries.
Call the Airline ASAP
You may get notice of the cancellation while you’re at the airport or beforehand. If you’re at the airport, go talk to the ticketing agent at the airline’s desk in your terminal. If that line is 50 people deep, be proactive and give the airline a call!
If you’re not at the airport, call the airline ASAP. Do not Facebook message them, do not email them, do not pass GO. Calling is the quickest and easiest way to get to their customer service agents and everyone else on your flight will be calling them at the same time, so do it ASAP.
The airline will help you either re-book another flight or get you a refund.
Use The Internet!
If you can’t get through to the airline, consider hopping on their website or app to re-book your own flight or just see what’s available. You can also tweet their customer service team to try to re-book your flight if your initial attempts to re-book don’t work. Southwest, American, Jet Blue, and Delta tend to be the best about this.
Pro tip: Use Ebates to get cash back on all your airline purchases.
Many travelers get frustrated by cancellations and forget that the ticketing agents are people too. The louder and angrier you get, the less likely they will want to help you. Remain calm, reasonable, persistent, and treat airline staff like humans. This will get you farther than getting mad and might even get you a seat upgrade on your new flight.
Try To Get Some Compensation
The rule of thumb is that airlines are supposed to provide you a seat on the next available flight on that airline or a refund. Check your airline’s contract of carriage (customer agreement) to see their policy.
AirHelp is a tool that gives passengers the ability to check if they’re eligible to receive compensation for a delay. Check out their app or website here.
What Other Freebies Can You Get?
Do you have a credit card? Your card may provide you some benefits if you file a claim with them immediately. For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offers a $500 trip delay reimbursement if you’ve been delayed 12+ hours. Don’t forget to keep your travel documents in case you need proof of your claim.
If your delay is 4+ hours you may be able to get meal or hotel credits or vouchers. This usually happens when something is wrong with the plane rather than weather since, well, nobody can control the weather.
Negotiation is Key
Don’t sign anything or accept any offers until you have seen all your options! If you take a freebie you may be waiving your right to other compensation in the future. Even if the airline re-books you immediately, you can still ask them to change your flight.
Consider Alternative Transportation
If there are no flight options, consider how else you can get to your destination. Can you rent a car or take a train? Maybe you can drive to Charlotte and then get a flight from Charlotte to Atlanta instead of your original plan. There’s always another option! Check out these awesome free apps to help you while you travel.
Tips to Avoid Future Cancellations
Now that you’ve made it through that cancellation nightmare, consider these tips to avoid future flight cancellations.
- Avoid flying anywhere with bad weather and avoid flying in bad weather seasons – this can include winter storms, hurricanes, etc.
- Say no to layovers – layovers add more travel time and increase the chances of something going awry, so avoid them if possible.
- Consider investing in travel insurance – we use and recommend World Nomads. This can make it easier to get your money back!
- Get airline status – fair or not, airlines will take care of their best customers first. If you have any kind of status with them or even just their credit card, they are more likely to help you re-book.
- Pack a “Go” bag – if you think there’s a chance you’ll get delayed, pack an extra outfit and your phone charger in your carry-on so you’re more prepared.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Flight delays are inconvenient and annoying, but try to find the silver lining! Maybe you get to miss that boring work meeting or spend an extra day with your little sister. Try to enjoy the experience and use your meal voucher to try a new restaurant. Whatever you do, try to make the best of the situation and know that you’re not alone in figuring it out.
More Travel Tips
If you loved this article, check out our other travel tips! Below you’ll find my favorite travel backpack as well, which I like because it’s big enough for a shorter trip!