What to Do If Your Flight is Delayed or Cancelled
Travelling is amazing isn't it but unfortunately it doesn't always go to plan. Sometimes you can be looking forward to jetting away, or returning home, but you find out your flight has been delayed, or even worse, cancelled. But what do you do if this happens to you?
Check out our top tips for how to be prepared before flying with useful things to know and also essential things to know and do if your flight gets delayed or even worse, cancelled.
Know Your Rights
All airlines really do try their best to avoid delays and cancellations, but sometimes there is no option for them to stop flights departing. This can be for a number of reasons but usually due to the weather, technical issues or strikes.
However, if this does happen to you, there are usually options available to you depending on your airline and which region of the world you are travelling in.
Get Latest Information
The first things you should do if your flight is delayed or cancelled, is to find out what is happened and when you are likely to depart. You can do this by speaking to your airline either over the phone or at an airport booth. You can also check online which is usually quickest, most airlines now have websites, apps and social media profiles where you can get live information.
Flights Within Europe
Under EU law, you have various rights if you travel on flights to, from or within the European Union. To be covered, your flight must be either: departing from an EU airport and operated by any airline, or arriving at an EU airport and operated by an EU airline. This includes those travelling to and from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
If your flight has been delayed for a certain amount of time, usually 2 hours, your airline should take care of you by providing food and drink, usually airlines provide vouchers which you can use on local shops and restaurants.
They should also provide communications and if the delay turns out to be longer than expected, or even cancelled, they are required to provide accommodation (if you are delayed overnight).
If your flight has been delayed for more than five hours and no longer wish to travel then you are entitled to a refund.
Flights Within North America
When travelling in the USA, rights are generally lower than in Europe. The US Department of Transportation states: “In the United States, airlines are not required to compensate passengers when flights are delayed or cancelled. “Compensation is required by US law only when certain passengers are 'bumped' from a flight that is oversold. Rights, refunds and compensation really depend on the policy of the airline. Purchasing travel insurance can also help you to be covered.
Flights in Other Worldwide Locations
Passenger rights and compensation varies when outside of Europe and North America. You will need to check with the airlines regarding their policies.
If your flight is delayed or cancelled try to keep as many documents and receipts as you can. This includes boarding cards, screenshots or pictures of the delay/cancelation, and any receipts from food, drink, taxis or accommodation. Sometimes airlines might require this as proof to confirm your details and to give compensation.
Also if you speak to a member of staff from the airline, make sure you get their name and position, just incase if anyones requests this information at a later date.
Whether you are entitled to a refund or compensation depends the airline, circumstances and also your location. Some websites like AirHelp offer flight delay compensation whilst some travel insurance policies also offer cover and protection.
Check Reviews Before Booking
Some airports and airlines have worse records than others when it comes to delays and cancellations. We recommend well in advance of your departure to research which airlines fly to your preferred destination and check reviews and reports online. Avoiding busy airports and some airlines can really help improve your chances of your flight running smoothly. You might like to also check out our guide to the best airlines in the world.
Pack Things to Do
Always plan ahead and factor in the possibility of delays/cancellations by packing things to keep you busy. For example books, gadgets and chargers. This will help you to avoid being bored and help make the airport experience easier.
Get Travel Insurance
One of the most important things to do when you travel is to buy travel insurance. Some people see this as an added expense, but it will really help cover you any medical emergencies, theft, loss of luggage and delays and cancellations. If you choose a travel insurance company which includes delays and cancellations in the policy, even if you don't get a refund/compensation from the airline, you will still get money back.
Have you ever had your flight delayed or cancelled? If you have advice or can think of anything to add that we have missed, let us know in the comments section below.