What To Do if Your Flight Gets Canceled? Travel Expert Weighs In

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Key Takeaways

  • Use apps like Flightradar24 to track real-time air traffic for potential disruptions, even though airlines typically notify passengers about delays or cancellations.
  • Major airlines usually rebook passengers free of charge and cover expenses for significant delays exceeding stipulated times.
  • When facing a flight cancellation, contact the airline promptly and consider alternative carriers for rebooking. Remember, canceled flights entitle passengers to full refunds.

Air travel brings with it uncertainties. For instance, United Airlines flights were grounded for over an hour on Tuesday due to computer glitches, as confirmed by the Federal Administration.

The changing dynamics of air travel make it essential for passengers to understand their rights.

Checking Flight Status

Airlines usually notify passengers about delays or cancellations through emails, texts, or app notifications.

However, Clint Henderson, managing editor at The Points Guy, emphasizes in a CNBC news report the importance of self-monitoring.

He prefers the Flightradar24 app to track real-time air traffic and ascertain possible delays.

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Delayed Flight: What to Do

Airlines provide tracking services through their apps. If you anticipate a delay, contacting the airline for a possible rebooking might be beneficial.

Henderson warns, however, that not all airlines might accommodate such requests. Should a significant delay occur, major airlines, as per the U.S. Department of Transportation’s guidelines, are obliged to rebook passengers at no additional cost and cover meals for delays exceeding three hours.

Action Plan After Canceled Flight

On facing a cancellation:

  1. Contact the airline: Tomasz Pawliszyn, CEO of AirHelp, advises calling the airline while queueing at the airport’s customer service desk.
  2. Immediate rebooking: Aim for a rebooking, even if it means considering a different airline. Most airlines collaborate for customer satisfaction.
  3. Explore all avenues: Henderson stresses the need to utilize every available means for rebooking. Social media and international toll-free numbers can come in handy.
  4. Know your rights: If an airline cancels, they must legally provide a full refund, inclusive of all fees and taxes, within stipulated timelines.
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Always Have Backup Options

It’s advisable to be familiar with other airline schedules. Should cancellations arise, passengers can request bookings on competitor carriers.

Additionally, as per U.S. Department of Transportation’s guidelines, major airlines (excluding Frontier) must cover hotel stays for overnight cancellations.

Pawliszyn also highlights in the report the role of credit card companies in offering travel protection and suggests keeping a detailed record of all expenses and conversations for possible compensation.

Understanding Flight Cancellations

Airline cancellations, although common, have seen an uptick recently.

Flight cancelations might be more common than you think. Earlier this year, a report in Afar stated that disruptions have been significant, with over 8,000 flights canceled and approximately 40,000 delayed leading up to the Fourth of July holiday due to adverse East Coast weather.

The report added that 1 to 2 percent of the 25,000 daily flights are typically canceled in the U.S., but these figures have been skewed recently.

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To avoid such issues, booking the earliest flight, using airline apps, and preferring non-stop flights are recommended.

What We Think

Navigating flight uncertainties demands vigilance and preparedness. Travelers benefit from proactive monitoring and understanding of airline policies for compensations and rebookings during delays or cancellations.

Keeping a record of expenses and conversations aids in seeking compensation. Airlines’ obligations for rebooking and refunds provide a safety net, encouraging passengers to know and assert their rights.

Flexibility in considering alternate carriers and early booking options can mitigate the impact of flight disruptions.

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