The Friday FYI: What to Do When Your Flight is Cancelled|
You are getting ready to board your plane for an important business trip and you hear the words you never want to hear over the loud speaker: “This flight has been cancelled.”
Do you know how to get out on the next flight, and still make your meeting?
Recently, while traveling for work, my flight was cancelled due to a mechanical issue. The majority of the passengers had to postpone their trip a day or two, but there were a few people who were able to get on the last flight to our destination that day. These passengers were not just lucky; they were informed travel pros and knew what to do if their flight was cancelled.
Know Your Airline’s Cancellation and Delay Policy
Read your airline’s delay and cancellation policy when you book your flight. This will familiarize you with your rights as a passenger and help you navigate the conversation with an airline representative in case your flight is postponed. For example, most airlines are not required to compensate you if a flight is delayed or cancelled due to weather. However, several carriers will provide hotel accommodations or some form of compensation when your flight is postponed for an extended period of time due to mechanical issues.
Download Your Airline Carrier’s App
All of the major airlines have smart phone apps that provide important updates regarding your flight status. Ironically, when my flight was continuously delayed and finally cancelled, the airline’s app provided more updates on the flight than the airline crew at the gate. Travelers using the airline’s app received an early heads up that the flight was cancelled and were the first people to get in line at the customer service desk and reschedule their flights.
Locate the Airline’s Nearest Customer Service Kiosk
Get in line at the airline’s customer service kiosk or gate desk as soon as possible. While you wait to speak to a representative in person, call the airline customer service number at the same time so you can speak to the first available representative either via phone or in person. Do you have elite mile status? Many airlines provide a separate number to their elite mile holders that will help you reschedule your flight faster.
Travel Agents Can Be Your Best Friend
With the convenience of online booking, people use travel agents less than they did in the past. However, travel agents are extremely helpful if you have a delayed or cancelled flight since they work with the airlines regularly and are very familiar with their policies. While I waited in line to speak to one of my airline’s representatives, my travel agent booked me on the next flight before I even made it to the front of the line. The quick service and attention allowed me to get the last seat on the flight to my desired destination.
Keep Calm and Carry On
Airline representatives deal with tons of stressed out, frustrated passengers on a daily basis. A calm demeanor and friendly smile will go a long way when you are working with representatives to reschedule your flight. If you feel like you deserve to be compensated or require accommodations, it never hurts to ask.
Brittany Thomas is digital advertising professional with a passion for emerging technology, media, continuous learning and travel. Her first professional role after graduating from the University of Michigan was at a large advertising agency in Chicago where she was responsible for researching and recommending the best digital media practices for a major CPG client. She currently resides in Chicago and works in advertising sales for a top online publisher.