I have had countless airplane issues over the years. Of course, everyone has dealt with travel delays during flights. However, I swear I’ve had more than my fair share considering that I don’t even travel all that often. For example, I once tried to take a two-hour flight from San Francisco to Las Vegas. After long delays, we got to Vegas, circled for half hour because of snow, and ended up rerouting to spend the night in Phoenix. When does snow cause a a Vegas flight cancellation? In any case, because I’ve had lots of issues over the years, I’ve learned a lot about flight troubles. For example, here are the steps to take when flight is cancelled.
Assume Your Flight Might Get Cancelled
First of all, just assume that you’ll have delays or cancellations. If you have any leeway at all when making your travel plans, then plan with this in mind. If I have to be somewhere for an event that’s taking place on a Monday morning, I never plan to arrive there on Monday morning. I don’t even plan to arrive there on Sunday night. I take a flight that gets me there Sunday morning at the latest. That way if I have to take steps when flight is cancelled, I still have time to get where I’m going. Planning ahead is the best step that you can take to prevent problems for yourself.
It’s particularly likely that you’ll have to know the steps to take when flight is cancelled right now. Cancellations have spiked since the pandemic began. There are staff shortages and a lot of unpredictability when it comes to airline travel. Plan for flexibility.
Start Making Plan B If You See Lots of Delays
You don’t usually get to the airport, see your plane’s on time, and then suddenly learn that your flight’s been canceled. Instead, your flight’s typically delayed first, often more than once. As soon as you start noticing those delays, began to make a fallback plan. As soon as possible, book yourself on another flight in the event that yours gets canceled. So, as soon as you start to see those delays, take these steps immediately:
1. Head to the Airline Customer Service Counter
Honestly, you’re probably not going to have the best luck here. However, it’s a good place to start. There’s probably going to be a line there, though. Don’t just wait in that line twiddling your thumbs. This is the time to multitask. As you’re waiting in this line, there are additional steps to take when flight is cancelled.
2. Tweet the Airline
Real Simple says that an airline’s customer service on Twitter is often faster than the customer service counter at the airport. So, send them a tweet. Let them know that it looks like your flight’s about to get canceled and you want to get booked on a new flight as soon as possible. See below exactly what you want to tell customer service when you think your flight’s getting canceled.
3. Contact Other Social Media Channels
Some airlines also offer customer service through other social media channels. Therefore, contacting them through all of those is among your steps to take when flight is cancelled. Facebook and Instagram are the two big obvious channels other than twitter.
4. Contact Customer Service Through Chat or Call
You’re still waiting in line at the customer service desk. They haven’t responded to your social media requests for assistance, yet. Don’t just stand there doing nothing. Stay in the line but get back on the phone. Contact the airline’s customer service either through their chat function or by calling them.
5. Call Third Party Travel Bookers
Did you book your travel through a travel agent? Perhaps you used an online booking service and made the smart choice to pay a little extra for the travel insurance? Or maybe you’ve got a travel membership? These services also have people that can help you with the next steps to take when flight is cancelled.
Here’s What You Want to Tell Customer Service
Yes, you’re doing a lot already while you’re waiting in line but now is not the time to slow down. You need to know exactly what you want customer service to do for you if you’re going to get the best result. In other words, don’t just hit the counter and say, “I think my flight is cancelled, what do I do?” Instead, come prepared with what you want. In other words, start searching on your phone immediately for the next best flights.
US News and World Report says that you should use sites such as Google Flights to search across all airlines. It’s also helpful if you know which airlines are partners with the flight you’re already booked on. It’s easier for them to rebook on a partner airline’s next flight. So, when you do reach someone, whether it’s on Twitter or at the counter, let them know that you’ve found some good alternative flight options and you’d like to get booked on one in case your flight is canceled.
But don’t forget to be nice to them. Just because you’re being firm and clear doesn’t mean you should be rude. It’s hard on those employees when dealing with flight delays and cancelations. Make the job easier on them.
Alternatively, Just Book New Tickets
You’re doing your research. You see a great price for new tickets on another flight. However, you’re still waiting on hold for customer service. What should you do? Are those tickets going to go to one of the people ahead of you in line? Well, here’s the thing … you could just book them yourself. If you have trip insurance – either because you added it at booking or because you paid with a travel rewards credit card – then you might be able to get a refund on the canceled flight. Therefore even though you buy new tickets online, you’re not out the original flight money. Just make sure you know what your refund policies are before you do this.
If You Can’t Get Booked on a Same Day Flight
Unfortunately, sometimes you just can’t get on a new flight the same day that your flight got canceled. This is when you need to find out what your options are. Here are some tips:
- Book the next possible flight. If you still plan to try to get to your destination, the first thing is to figure out what plane you can get on.
- Start looking at hotel rooms. As you’ll see below, the airline might cover your hotel room. In which case, they may or may not tell you where to go stay. But don’t wait because everyone else on that plane is looking for a room too. Get on your phone and start looking for the closest room to book.
- Know your passenger rights. These vary depending on whether you’re on a domestic or international airline. The cause of the cancellation is also a factor. Us News and World Report explains that in some cases the airline is required to help accommodate you while in other instances they are not.
- Read your terms and conditions. This might tell you exactly what steps to take when flight is cancelled. If you got travel insurance, look for information about hotel stays, rebooking fees, etc.
- Ask for perks. Sometimes the airline will give you hotel vouchers, meal coupons, etc. when you have to rebook a flight due to cancellation. If you booked with a travel-related credit card, then you might have additional perks.
Or Cancel Your Trip
You might want to cancel your trip and get a refund. According to US News and World Report, if your flight is canceled and you opt not to rebook, you’re entitled to a refund. If that’s the case, and the situation is such that it’s not worth it to you anymore to take the trip at this time, then you can go this route. Real Simple adds the reminder that if you paid to check bags, your due back those fees if you didn’t end up taking the flight. And Upgraded Points has a complete guide to getting compensation for canceled trips.
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