Horrible conditions, technical difficulties, price increases, a lack of workers, and a heightened workload during the busy holiday season. Many people who traveled by plane in 2022 had a difficult time of it throughout the majority of the year.
And the year ended as badly as it began, with a significant snowstorm the week before Christmas and the collapse of Southwest Airlines. Two weeks into 2023, a malfunction with a system providing safety notices forced the FAA to temporarily pause all domestic flight departures throughout the United States.
What if you are one of the unfortunate travelers affected by these occurrences? Can you reflect on the last year and apply any of its lessons to the next one?
If you’ve ever had to deal with flight cancellations or delays, here are some tips to assist you in going around the system.
Don’t get stuck in the airport
Even though it’s disappointing, it’s best to learn that your flight has been significantly delayed or canceled when you’re already at your destination (home or hotel) and have time to make other plans.
Before heading to the airport, make sure to check on your flight. Most of these alerts are not sent out at the very last minute, and there’s no need to waste time driving there.
Sign up for free flight status SMS alerts from the airline when booking your journey. You should also get the app for your carrier.
You may also check the status of your flight by typing the airline and flight number into the search bar on Google. This is especially useful if friends or family are waiting to pick you up.
If you’re interested in national flight patterns, you should also visit FlightAware.
Do a quick check of the weather
Before the bomb cyclone hit the United States in December 2022, many airlines allowed customers to reschedule their flights at no extra cost.
Take advantage of waiver offers when a severe weather event is predicted. If any worms are left, they’re most likely to be eaten by the early birds (that is, flights and seats).
What if you’re already stuck at the airport?
After arriving at the airport, you may find that your flight has been delayed or canceled. How should you proceed after hearing awful news?
Quickly make your way to the airline counter, and be prepared to multitask while waiting in line.
Time is of the essence. Whoever gets there first will have an advantage. The rule is first-come, first-served, and being near the desk can be advantageous.
Then you should contact your service provider while you wait. It may be quicker to get a call center, depending on where you are in line.
Those making domestic calls in the United States may experience extremely long hold times. Instead of calling the domestic number shown for your carrier, you should contact the international one.
Most American tourists wouldn’t consider contacting Delta through their Canadian support number. It’s possible that you’ll speak to a representative immediately. All of them can take your booking requests in the same way.
Alternatively, there is a self-service kiosk available. Scan your boarding card or enter your record location to access your up-to-date trip information. You can also change flights and print out new boarding passes from the same place.
It’s also possible to use social media to your benefit.
Getting in touch with a human being on the phone is not always straightforward, and not all customer service departments are as helpful as possible.
Companies in the airline industry place a premium on their online credibility, and Twitter is a valuable tool for reaching out to staff members. Staying calm and polite on Twitter will help you get your message across.
Staying for the night
What should you do if you aren’t near your home airport and it appears that you won’t be able to leave until the following day?
Have the airline put you overnight in a hotel or provide a voucher. They may, but it’s also possible that they won’t. There is no legal requirement for it to be done.
Weather-related cancellations are less likely to be honored than mechanical problems or a lack of crew.
You may receive compensation and the reasons for the flight cancellation at the airline’s discretion.
Be familiar with the rules. For example, if a flight is delayed by more than four hours between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., Delta Air Lines said it’ll offer a hotel voucher in special cases.
You should at least inquire before taking any extreme measures. You shouldn’t expect to be handed a voucher good for hotel stays, transportation, or food. Airlines may assist with lodging arrangements case-by-case, but this is never guaranteed.
Your credit card may also help you out. Fortunately, many credit cards have travel protections, such as money back if a flight is canceled and you must pay for a hotel, food, etc. If you paid for your flight using a credit card, you are usually entitled to these benefits automatically. Look for “your credit card’s name plus travel protections” on Google to learn about its precise services.
Your options for waiting at the airport if your flight has been postponed rather than canceled are more nuanced. It may be more convenient to stay put for four or five hours than travel to and from a hotel. Also, see if there are any nearby hotels to the airport.
The Points Guy recommends, if possible, gaining access to an airport lounge to relax, charge your electronics, and catch some Zs.
Be careful. If flights are canceled due to bad weather, driving could be risky. While it’s frustrating not to move forward, showing up late is always preferable to not showing up at all.
Collaboration with other airlines
You may be lucky if airlines coordinate their services to help you out. Many airlines offer interline agreements that allow you to be rebooked on another airline if your original flight is canceled.
Suppose Delta is experiencing service problems, but American Airlines operates a trip to your target. In that case, you could board the American flight.
A cash refund is available if you decide against being rebooked on a later flight and instead purchase a new ticket at your own expense. However, this may not be enough to get you where you need to go, and last-minute plane tickets are notoriously pricey.
Get yourself some travel insurance
The majority of policies include extra protection for travel uncertainties. You may be eligible for additional coverage if your flight is delayed by more than 12 hours because of a strike, bad weather, or a technical breakdown.
You should also retain your airport purchase receipts, and you can submit a refund request to the airline later.
But stick to the essentials. Airlines only reimburse ‘reasonable’ charges, so you won’t get your money back if you spend it on things like alcohol, gourmet meals, or five-star hotels.
Research and mentality both play essential roles
Your attitude may make or break your interaction with an agent, whether in person or over the phone. Attitude is the first step.
Imagine this from the viewpoint of the airline staff. Since the beginning of the pandemic, they have had to deal with unhappy clients. If anyone can assist you, it would be the agent.
It’s much more probable that you’ll receive what you want if you ask politely and compassionately than being a jackass about it. It would be helpful if you could come prepared to suggest some alternatives. Independent investigation is highly recommended.
When you’ve done preliminary research into alternative paths and viable suggestions, you can share this with your agent and have them move things along more quickly. Prepare to elaborate on your needs.
When a cancellation occurs, you must contact Expedia or the other booking site through which you made your reservation.
We recommend booking with the airline directly if the pricing is comparable. When you book through a third party, there are often numerous policies to consider in the event of an issue.
A consumer advocacy group, US PIRG, recommends avoiding layovers whenever feasible when arranging travel. There are additional potential problems when you stop multiple times.
Suppose your flight is canceled or experiencing a “substantial delay,” and you decide not to wait for it to depart. In that case, the US Department of Transportation states that you are entitled to a full refund of your ticket price.
It doesn’t matter why the airline cancels or delays your flight; this is the policy. However, the definition of a substantial delay is still up for debate.
In its own words, the DOT “has not explicitly defined what constitutes a ‘significant delay.'” Many factors, including the delay’s duration, the flight’s length, and your individual situation, will determine whether or not you are eligible for a refund. If your flight is significantly delayed, DOT will decide on a case-by-case case whether or not you qualify for a refund.
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