Mother nature can wreak havoc on flight schedules and winter is often the worst time of year to experience it. Being stuck at the airport waiting to get to your destination or to get home can be a frustrating experience. So we’ve put together some tips on what to do when stranded and how you can get things done faster when your flight gets cancelled.
Always check the status of your flight before you leave for the airport. You can find out this information through the airport’s website, directly with the airline, or travel apps like Flightboard. Most airlines also offer text message and email alerts to notify you if your flight is being delayed or cancelled. You can also follow the airline on Twitter or Facebook to get the most up-to-date travel advisories. Checking the status of the flight (On Time, Delayed, Cancelled) will determine your next step. Often, airlines will not help unless a flight has been delayed more than 3 hours or is cancelled.
Call Your Travel Agent
When the weather causes flight cancellations, airlines will often cancel operations for the remainder of the day and try to reset for the following day. The first thing you’ll need to do is find yourself a hotel room before they’re all full. The airline won’t pay for it so you’ll either have to cover it yourself or prepare to camp out at the airport. Our agents work furiously around the clock to re-book travellers with cancelled flights and are often the quickest way to do it. During these high traffic times, calling the airline directly can often be an impossible task. At Flight Centre we have direct lines to airlines which means hold times are cut down significantly. We will stay on hold for you so you don’t have to. Our customers mean the world to us and we’ll do whatever we can to ensure your trip is as smooth as possible. Our agents are available 24/7 to assist you.
The airline will automatically re-book you on the next flight that has room but that doesn’t always mean it’s the fastest option. The most direct flights and busiest hubs will be the least likely to have open seats. So if you absolutely need to get somewhere as quickly as possible consider connecting options as the more creative you get, the better chance you have of getting out sooner.
Check Your Insurance Options
Trip cancellation and interruption insurance covers you from the moment you leave home but only if you miss your connection through no fault of your own. Check your insurance carefully to understand exactly what that means. It’s also important to know that if you book a return ticket and miss the first portion of the flight, your entire ticket will get cancelled. You need to contact the airline or your travel agent immediately to re-confirm the return portion so you don’t lose it completely.
If you miss a flight through no fault of your own, your airline normally automatically re-books you. However, if you miss your flight due to your own error – like not hearing a gate chance announcement – you won’t be covered by travel insurance. If you do miss a flight accidentally, go directly to the customer service desk or call the airline to find out what your options are before you decide to book new tickets on your own. And if you happen to miss the first leg of a return ticket – you must confirm the return portion or it will get automatically cancelled.
Make the Best of it
With millions of people taking flights every year, it’s noticeable how few travellers give airline staff even the most common courtesy of a smile. In a busy, often crowded environment, being the stand-out passenger who smiles and is pleasant to deal with can prove a huge difference in a time of stress. Manners cost nothing, so even if you fail to get to your destination on time, you’ll still have brightened someone’s day by being pleasant and offering them a smile. Remember to also be curteous to other passengers as they too have places to be. Start-up a conversation with a stranger; travel talk is an instant ice-breaker and you never know what friendships can be formed from it! If all else fails, here are 5 fun ways to kill time at airports.