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Being flexible when the inevitable happens: Here’s what you can do in cases of canceled or delayed flights!

16 Mar 2023

Imagine you’re on your way to the airport, excited because finally, after a couple of years, you’ll be able to travel once again and check off those dream destinations on your bucket list. Everything’s going well, but then suddenly, after checking in at the airport, you’re notified that your flight has been canceled or delayed. 

What? No way! 

Since then, your plans have gone haywire and you’re clueless on what to do next. In times like these, it’s important to have a back up plan. The least you can do is expect the unexpected (but still hope for the best) because at a time when the airline industry is experiencing staff shortages, software system malfunctions, and bad weather, canceled or delayed flights can happen anytime. 

Here are some tips on what you should do if you’re affected by flight cancellations or delays, and what you can do to avoid such travel disruptions altogether in 2023: 

If your flight is canceled 

In cases of canceled flights, remember that Federal law entitles you to a full cash refund for the cost of your airfare regardless of the reason. Follow these steps to claim compensation: 

  • Check your airline’s app and contact it through its international number. Most airline apps allow you to easily rebook your flight for free. Speaking with a travel agent or calling the airline while you wait for news is also a good idea. If you’re having a hard time contacting your agent or the airline, you may send your message through the airline’s social media accounts such as WhatsApp, Viber, etc. 
  • Book a hotel. The last thing you would want to experience aside from a canceled flight is having no place to go to for rest or sleep. So, in the event that your flight is canceled, immediately determine if you need overnight accommodations. If you’re originally booked on the last flight of the night, grab a hotel room near the airport. 
  • Ask for a refund. The DOT requires airlines to provide a full refund in the event that your flight gets canceled or is “significantly delayed.” Sadly, getting a refund is often a lengthy and frustrating process, so airlines will usually offer vouchers. However, be wary of these vouchers because they come with limitations such as expiration dates. 
  • Review your airline’s travel cancellation policy. While a full refund is compulsory, other airlines implement varying flight cancellation policies. Check out the links below to review the policies and passenger rights provided by each of the major U.S.-based airlines. 

If your flight is delayed 

In case your flight gets delayed, you won’t be entitled to a full refund unless the DOT determines the delay to be “significant.” Here’s what you can do instead: 

  • Research other flights. In case there are other flights on the same airline that are headed to your destination, ask your travel agent if he or she can get you on one of those flights without charging change fees. 
  • Inquire about compensation. If you’ve been stranded at the airport for several hours already, check in with your travel agent as some airlines provide amenities like meal vouchers or overnight accommodations. 

According to Scott Keyes, founder and chief flight expert at Going (formerly known as Scott’s Cheap Flights), the two primary causes of flight cancellations in 2022 are overscheduling and antiquated airline technology. Despite that, it’s also important to note that airlines have actually improved since the summer of 2022. 

In fact, flight disruptions from July 2022 to October 2022 were below historical averages. Additionally, the pilot shortage has been marginally improving, and airlines are getting better at putting out schedules that are realistic rather than optimistic coming from the lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

So, how can you avoid flight cancellations or delays in the future? 

In reality, no one can actually avoid such risks in traveling. However, there are some things you can do when booking flights to lessen your chances of encountering these disruptions: 

  • Fly in the morning. While flight disruptions are unpredictable, historical records show fewer cancellations and delays occur in the morning. 
  • Avoid weekend travel. It’s better to fly on off-peak days like Tuesday or Wednesday. Besides, you’ll find cheaper airfares on these days too! 
  • Consider availing a credit card with travel protections or insurances. You don’t need to be a frequent traveler to take advantage of credit card travel protections and perks. Here are some options to consider: 
  • Talk to your travel advisor. Travel advisers are helpful especially in times of flight delays and cancellations because they have a number of tools to assist you in your concerns. So, always make sure to keep in touch with your travel advisor so he or she can immediately provide you with alternatives. 
  • Avoid checked luggage. Traveling with just a carry-on bag helps in flexibility in rebooking and also lessens chances of lost luggage. Some airlines will make every effort to keep you and your belongings together. However, when there are no interline agreements between airlines and other carriers, you’ll spend more time retrieving and rechecking your checked luggage. 

Overall, experiencing flight delays or cancellations is a hassle as it is time-consuming and frustrating. However, with the right contingency plans in place, you’ll be able to easily move forward with the processes and continue on with your travel plans, albeit at a different timeline. 

Make sure to keep the tips above in mind to know what to do in case of canceled or delayed flights. Also, feel free to leave us a comment below regarding your thoughts on this topic. 


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