So your flight’s delayed or canceled. That sucks. But it doesn’t have to suck that much so long as you’re proactive about finding help, a good book, or a free outlet. We’ve put together a short list of ways to help reduce the possibility of delayed flights, prepare you for when they do (unfortunately) happen and give you some tips on how to deal with the aftermath — for our top tips and tricks, read on!

Figure Out Your Next Move

While the ideal situation is to be switched to another flight on the airline that you booked with for free, if you absolutely need to get to your destination by a certain time, check out the flight information board and head to another airline to see if you can purchase a ticket aboard their flight to your final destination. This is certainly the pricier option, so weigh the pros and cons of missing your plans vs. shelling out some extra cash for another flight. If you had booked your original flight on a legacy airline, you can even try your luck at getting reimbursed for the extra purchase. After all, it was their fault that you needed to make that purchase.

Know Your Travel Insurance Policy Inside-Out

If your flight is canceled due to a natural disaster or your trip destination is affected by one (and you made the right choice and purchased travel insurance) chances are that there will be at least some type of coverage for your flight. Whether it’s reimbursement, future travel vouchers, or a replacement flight, it’s imperative that you check your insurance policy at the time of purchase. Many travel insurance plans that include trip cancellation/ interruption coverage will offer to cover your expenses that were lost as a result of canceling or ending a trip prematurely due to severe weather conditions.  (And remember… once a storm is named, you can no longer purchase travel insurance to protect against it!)

If you’re canceling a trip due to a personal injury or emergency, there are certain steps you’ll need to take and restrictions on what you can be reimbursed for depending on the situation and guidelines. The first thing you’ll need to do is gather all your supporting documentation (doctor’s notes, hospital bills, letter of termination as proof of lost income, and etc).

Be sure to connect with your travel insurance company before you set out; ask all of your questions from the get-go, so you don’t land yourself in a situation where you’ve paid for insurance and also lose out on your hard-earned money and precious time!

Connect With Your Airline

Perhaps the quickest way to be alerted to flight changes, delays and cancellations are by following your airline on social media or by downloading their app. It’s also a great way to connect quickly if you need to alert your airline to your need to change flights or receive compensation. Airlines are speedy responders on social media, especially because it’s a public forum and they’d like to be viewed as responsive and fair by current and potential clients.

By calling your airline, you can also reach them quicker than by standing in line, waiting to talk to a stressed-out employee. Catch an employee that may not be having a terrible shift by calling your airline’s customer service line and see if they can figure out how to change your flight — all before you move an inch in line at the airport.

BUT if you prefer good old-fashioned, face-to-face customer service — there’s a great trick for that, according to CheapOair’s very own Senior Vice President of Supplier Relations and Partnerships Tom Spagnola.

“I don’t want to give away my ‘secret’ but it works for me most of the time,” explains Spagnola. “I’m not a member of any of the airlines’ private clubs but they do help accommodate customers. It is much quieter, a lot less stressful, and only a few people that need help. The regular customers end up at the regular customer service desk and it turns into complete mayhem.”

See if Your Airline Can Put You Up in a Hotel for the Night

If hanging around the airport terminal isn’t your thing, call your airline and ask if they can foot the bill for a nearby airport hotel. Mention the inconvenience that their canceled or delayed flight caused you and, if applicable, talk about how much you fly with them or if you’re in their loyalty program. Airlines will often go above and beyond for loyal customers, so might as well flaunt it if you’ve got it. Some airlines will do it, some airlines won’t — but, hey, it can’t hurt to ask!

Know Your Rights Before You Book Your Flight

Before you even book your flight, you should know your rights. In 2011, the Department of Transportation updated its airline passenger’s bill of rights which states, among other things, that if you’re delayed by two hours or less due to overbooking, you’re entitled to double the price of your ticket in compensation, up to $800. If you’re delayed more than two hours due to overbooking, you can be reimbursed up to $1,300.

Another way to read up on your rights is to peruse the terms and conditions section before making the final booking — it’ll be worth it to know that one airline will reimburse you for delayed flights while other airlines may not. With all this information before you even book, you’ll be able to judiciously weigh the pros and cons of booking one flight over the other. Also consider purchasing trip insurance when you’re checking out to add a level of confidence that, if something does go wrong, you’ll be covered.

Consider Only Traveling With a Carry-On

If your flight is delayed or canceled, this can spell out all sorts of trouble for those who checked their bags, save yourself the stress by trying to only pack a carry-on when you travel. Think it’s impossible? It’s really not — see how to pack four months (or more!) into a carry-on with this helpful article. If you’re stuck in an airport, you’ll be able to rest easy knowing that everything you need is within sight. Plus, it’ll be nice to change out of those constricting jeans if you need to snooze on an airport lounge chair.

Find a Way to While Away the Hours

If there’s nothing else in your power that you can do to get to your destination, make the most of the extra time by finding a bookstore and settling into a book you’ve been meaning to read at a quiet cafe or in one of those comfortable lounge chairs you never have time to relax in. At this point, you really can’t do anything to change your situation, so it’s best to take the time to relax, add steps to your Fitbit goal or recharge your electronics (and yourself) before you eventually board the flight.

Be Polite

Though it’s hard, try to remember that the flight delays and cancellations are not the faults of the airline employees that you’re dealing with. They’re stressed out, too — think of all the angry customers they’re dealing with! Keep your cool and treat everyone — employees and your fellow passengers — with care. You’re all in the same boat, so you might as well be nice while on board.


Have any other tips and tricks for dealing with flight delays of cancellations? Let us know in the comments section!
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