And waiting when you have no time to wait is even worse. Being stuck in an airport when you should be en route to your daughter’s graduation, your son’s birthday party or whatever else you’ve scheduled in a perfect world is the worst part about travelling for business.
We tend to plan our days as if they’re destined to run smoothly, and perhaps we should, but that’s often a far too optimistic approach, especially when it comes to the realities of travel. When our schedule is disrupted by a situation beyond our control, it may be easier to accept, but it doesn’t negate the fact that it may have really messed up our day.
Flights get delayed or cancelled daily. It is unfortunate and all-too-common and leaves us with few options, but there are some. The next time you are faced with such a predicament (and you will be), here are a few tactics that may help you get on your way to where you should be.
Check the next available flight with your operating carrier
Your delay might not be as bad as you think. The next available flight could be less than an hour later. If you are flying with a scheduled airline, like Air Canada or WestJet, on a high-traffic route such as Toronto – Montreal or Vancouver – Calgary, both airlines offer hourly departures, literally. Same goes for certain trans-border or international routes, like Toronto – New York City or London – Paris.
If the next flight isn’t already overbooked, those whose flight was cancelled tend to get a certain level of priority for the next departure. As you have probably already checked-in for your cancelled flight, the airline now has full control of your reservation, whether you’ve booked through a travel agency or the airline directly.
Visit the service counter and speak to your airline’s airport check-in staff to check their next flight, and if suitable, ask to be re-booked. Have your boarding pass reprinted and kill an hour picking up a souvenir.
Check alternate airlines
If there isn’t another available flight with your scheduled airline, you’ll have to get a little creative. The seldom used practice of having your airline ‘endorse’ your ticket over to another carrier is an old-school trick that may or may not work. It was commonly done before e-tickets were a thing, when an airport check-in agent would literally sign your ticket over to another airline with the stroke of a pen. I’ve had it done myself.
In most cases, your airline may only be able to sign a ticket over to a partner airline, one that’s either a member of the same airline alliance (Oneworld, SkyTeam, Star Alliance) or a codeshare partner. In North America, Air Canada’s partner airline is United Airlines. These two carriers often operate on the same routes using each other’s equipment for their ticketed passengers and share any costs and revenue.
If you’re ticketed on a cancelled or delayed Air Canada flight within North America, it’s worth the trouble to ask Air Canada to endorse their ticket over to United Airlines – if they have an available flight, of course. In rare cases, your airline may even be able to endorse their ticket over to a non-member airline.
Ask to be re-routed
In certain cases, a city may have more than one airport, such as Toronto (Pearson International and Billy Bishop – Island) or New York City (JFK, La Guardia and Newark). If the issue with your flight is mechanical or if there’s a problem with the airport you are trying to get into, ask what your options are to re-route your ticket to arrive into an alternate airport.
If the airport you are trying to get into is functioning, you can also ask about re-routing your ticket to connect in a city en route, instead of looking for a direct or non-stop flight. Your carrier’s check-in staff have many options available to them and have the most control over your reservation, there at the airport.
Call your FCBT travel manager
If all of the above has failed, call a professional. As mentioned above, once you’ve checked-in and are already at the airport, your airline’s airport representatives have the most power in getting you to where you need to be. They can override their own rules, waive change fees and make things happen. Unfortunately, sometimes they can’t do a thing. Flights may be overbooked, grounded for whatever reason or you may have run into an inexperienced agent that isn’t yet savvy enough.
After trying the above tricks, if you’re still stuck waiting, don’t think twice about calling your trusty Flight Centre Business Travel agent. That’s right. This is precisely what we’re here for and this is where we shine. This is when you calmly make your way to your airline’s airport lounge, sidle up to the bar, order a stiff one and give us a call.
Although not as powerful as the airline folks at the airport, Flight Centre Business Travel agents have access to airline reps, waivers, favours and more. We may not always be able to waive a change fee or pull a rabbit out of our hat, but if you’re travelling for business and simply need a flight, if there’s a seat available, that we can guarantee you.
We have access to every airline’s entire route network. We can cancel and credit unused flights and look at new alternatives. Heck, we can even rent you a car. A magician never reveals their tricks so I won’t get into too much detail, but truth be told, we’ve been called magicians a time or two. Don’t play the waiting game if you don’t have to.
Are you a business traveller looking for a solid travel agent? If so, then Flight Centre Business Travel (FCBT) should be on your radar. Give us a call at 1866 940 0217 to learn how they can serve you best!