Oh man. I feel like I could wrote a novel on delayed flights. In fact, I’m writing this blog post from a new flight after my original flight boarded, started taxiing down the runway and then had to return to the gate due to engine trouble. I didn’t stick around to see if they would fix it. New plane, who dis.
The thing with flying is that, when you have an intense love of traveling, you sometimes encounter both the good and the bad. The good is preferable, of course, but traveling isn’t always good. In fact, flying these days unfortunately often feels more frustrating than pleasant.
You don’t always have to be completely powerless in these situations.
Take flight delays, for example. Anyone who’s dealt with a flight delay knows it’s extremely aggravating because there’s not much you can do to get yourself from point A to B at the time you want. In the last year alone, I was bumped from a flight and delayed six hours at Heathrow Airport, delayed three hours at the Kingston airport in Jamaica (which had me landing in my destination in the middle of the night), delayed three hours TWICE at LaGuardia, redirected to another airport, had to change flights more than once due to flight delays and have spent more times than I can remember on the phone with customer service agents. All this to say…hm, why do I like traveling again?
Anyway, I think we can all agree that flying has its trials and tribulations. The positive note in all of this is that you don’t always have to be completely powerless in these situations. Here are a few steps to take when your flight is delayed or canceled:
Call Customer Service Immediately
When dealing with a flight delay or cancelation, I almost always go straight to calling customer service to see what can be done about my current situation. Once I’m able to get in touch with a representative, I’m often able to switch over to a new flight that will minimally impact my travel schedule. Though, it's worth noting that sometimes calling isn’t always your best bet because if everyone is calling customer service at the same time, you could be looking at a wait time of more than one hour. Call and then, depending on the wait time, decide on your next steps.
Go Online to Explore Your Options
In addition to calling customer service, I always go online immediately to see what other flight options are available. Sometimes it’s better to get on another flight if your original flight is severely delayed, so you want to have that information ready if you’re on the phone with a customer service agent or if there’s still the opportunity to change your flight online. Between calling and going online, I’m often able to resolve my situation much quicker than standing in a long line with disgruntled fliers.
Know Your Passenger Rights
Google is your best friend when it comes to understanding your passenger rights concerning flight delays and cancellations. Unfortunately, in the U.S., the passenger doesn’t have too many rights in general. We’re seeing that now more than ever in the media with the recent events that have taken place on airplanes. The EU is better in that respect but it’s still overall a frustration. That said, there is often something you should be given depending on your flight delay or cancelation, destination, etc. So google it and then make those demands! Not sure what to look for? Start here.
Tweet About It
Some may think this is an obnoxious suggestion but I fully stand by this. Take your concerns to Twitter. Yes, to Twitter. Why? Well, many companies know that people will tweet about their products and services so they often have Twitter accounts and social media specialists dedicated to responding to these tweets, both good and bad. I have no hesitations tweeting about a great experience, just as I have no hesitations tweeting about a terrible one. Often the airline will reach out to you to assist, just as they would if you called them. Sometimes nothing comes of it but sometimes you may be given a voucher or credit as an apology for the situation. You never know unless you try!
Rebook a New Flight and Deal with the Rest Later
This is a truly annoying option but it sometimes has to be done. You may just have to find a new flight, pay the money and deal with the rest later. By deal with the rest later I mean you may have to demand compensation from an airline, file a formal complaint or just generally go head to head with the airline to cover the extra costs you incurred. Sometimes this works and you get something out of it. Sometimes you lose the money. It’s incredibly frustrating and angering to be in this position but there may not be a way to avoid it.
Find Some Form of Entertainment
Let’s say you’re already at the airport, your flight is delayed and there’s no other flight for you to get on so you basically just have to buckle up and wait. The best thing you can do at that point is to settle down and find some form of entertainment to pass the time. It keeps you from getting overly annoyed and extra pissy (hopefully). In the many situations in which I’ve been delayed, I’ve found a book to read, something to eat or some people to call and chat with (sometimes all of the above!). And if you’re delayed in a large airport, you may even be able to go shop or pay a little extra to take advantage of a lounge. Essentially you’re making lemonade out of lemons.
Take Some Deep Breaths
This last tip applies to all of the above. I know firsthand what it’s like to be so, so angry when your flight is delayed or even canceled. And sometimes you want to lash out and make someone pay for causing you this inconvenience. But more often than not, yelling at the poor flight attendant or another passenger doesn’t do you any good. Getting in a screaming match with another angry, frustrated person ain’t gonna get you to where you need to go. So you just have to tell yourself to calm down and take some deep breaths. Life doesn’t always go as planned and travel is part of life.
The moral of the story: flight delays and cancelations suck. They really do. But hopefully the above are a few things you can do to make these situations a little bit better.
How do you handle flight delays and cancelations?