It has been a tough time for air travellers during the winter holidays. Cases of Omicron variant cases and bad weather have caused thousands of flights to be cancelled.
More flights were cancelled Tuesday as a winter storm hit the Washington, DC area. It’s the latest in a string of weather-related flight delays and closures.
While most flights are still running on time, there are some tips to help passengers navigate the system when they encounter delays or cancelled flights.
Avoid Getting Trapped At The Airport
If your flight is cancelled, avoid getting stuck at the airport, especially in a foreign country. The top thing that can help you is booking a hotel within the airport’s vicinity. You should also check the flight status before reaching to avoid disappointment.
As bad as it is to find out about a flight’s cancellation, it’s better to find out from a hotel room or home.
Scott Keyes, the founder of Cheap Flights, said that travellers should check their flight status before they head to the airport.
Keyes also noted that consumers should sign up for free text alerts from their carriers when they buy tickets.
You can also check your status by clicking on the “My Flight” button on Google’s homepage. It’s also a good idea to include the flight’s code and the name of the airline.
It’s also important to arrive at the airport as early as possible to avoid getting caught up in the lines.
Understand Different Informing Policies
The first thing you must do is understand the different informing policies of the airlines. For instance, some may call you to update you about the flight status. You may also receive an email or app notification about the delay/cancellation.
After reaching the airport, try calling your carrier to get in touch with them while you’re still waiting.
Many airlines offer self-serve kiosks that lets passengers check their boarding passes and print their new tickets.
According to Keyes, the airlines’ agents have been dealing with irate customers during the pandemic.
He also advised travelers to talk to their agents about their options. Doing their own research can help them make new arrangements.
If you’ve already searched for new routes and suggested suggestions, your agent can help you get there faster.
If the price is the same, book directly with the airline instead of through a third party.
The US PIRG consumer advocacy group also advises passengers to avoid using stopovers to avoid getting stuck in the airport.
The group also backs Keyes’ suggestion that passengers should be polite to the agents and try to resolve their issues peacefully.
Keyes noted that the outbreak has caused many airlines to issue massive flight cancellations due to the lack of staff.
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What To Do After Flight Delay Or Cancellation?
Firstly, you should check if you can get an instant refund so that you can use another airline to continue with your travelling plans. You can also change your flight date using the same ticket and company. Lastly, you can wait if the delay is short.
Get to know the policies of the airlines. For instance, Delta Air Lines provides a hotel voucher if a flight is delayed for more than four hours.
Your credit card might also have some protection features, such as free hotel rooms. It can also cover taxi and food expenses if the situation gets worse.
If your flight has been delayed, consider going to the airport. Although it might be inconvenient, staying there for a few hours may be easier than going to a hotel.
For those who are worried about the outbreak, some airlines are also offering to change their travel dates.
Instead of going to the holiday season, consider moving your trip to February. It’s estimated that this will save you a couple of hundred bucks.
Refund Rules For Flights
Typically, you are entitled to a refund if the schedule change or cancellation alters your plan significantly. For instance, the flight may be delayed by days. You can also get a refund if affected by an illness on the plane.
The US Department of Transportation also offers refunds for those who were affected by a flight cancellation or a significant delay.
Under the Department of Transportation’s rules, if a flight is cancelled due to an illness, the affected passengers are entitled to a refund.
According to the DOT, a flight’s delay of more than a certain length can be considered a significant delay. The agency also noted that the length of the delay and the individual’s circumstances can affect their refund.
Even though most people take for granted that they can get to their destination on time, it can be hard to take for granted when a flight is delayed due to unforeseen factors.
In 2019, 1.9% of US flights were cancelled due to the outbreak. As for 2020, 20% of the domestic flight schedules will be slashed due to the outbreak.
Stay Alert For Flight Notifications
A key thing to note is that the DOT has made it necessary for airlines to update you about schedule changes beforehand. This is why you should stay alert for notifications, emails, and calls. It will help you get a refund easily.
Since late flights can have a negative effect on connecting flights and cruise ship embarkations, the DOT requires airlines to inform passengers about any changes to their schedule.
To keep track of your flight’s status, check the flight’s app or the website of the airline for added convenience. These apps often provide real-time updates and can help you get to your destination much faster.
Know Your Passenger Rights on Domestic Flights
Even if your flight was delayed due to a mechanical issue, there are still ways to recover from this setback. According to Chris Elliott, founder of Elliott Advocacy, it’s important to check the details of your rights with the airline.
Although federal regulations do not require airlines to accommodate delayed passengers, many carriers still try to accommodate them.
One example is the flexibility being given to customers who were planning on postponing or cancelling their trip due to the outbreak. Some airlines even waive their fees for those who rebook within 12 months.
The Department of Transportation has a good online tool that can help you keep track of your rights.
Understand Your Passenger Rights On International Flights
You must understand your rights as a passenger on international flights. For instance, you can get a refund if the delay is caused by internal airline issues such as engine problems. However, you will not be covered because of weather issues.
Although European Union regulations protect passengers from delays and other unforeseen factors, unforeseen events caused by outside factors are not covered.
According to Nielsen, a law in the European Union requires airlines to refund up to $700 for delays that lasted over three hours. The same law also requires them to refund passengers if they were denied boarding.
If you were affected by a flight cancellation due to the outbreak, AirHelp can help you file a claim. But, since COVID-19 is not covered by the law, airlines will not refund your money.
Act Quickly After A Delay Or Cancellation
According to Brett Snyder of Cranky Concierge, the best thing to do in an event of a delay is to get in touch with an agent. You can also rebook through the airline’s website or call their customer service department.
Use Pro Tips to Get Rebooked on Your Preferred Itinerary
You should remember the top pro tip to consider alternatives when your flight is delayed or cancelled. For instance, you can book with another airline on the same day. You can also get a ticket for another day with the same company.
Experts also recommend going through the airline’s schedule to find out if there are any alternate options.
Be sure to also check the status of your connecting flights with other airlines. For instance, if your flight was delayed, American Airlines might put you on British Airways.
Maintain a Positive Attitude With Customer Service Personnel
You must talk to customer support politely during flight changes. This can go a long way for better assistance. For instance, the agent may make extra effort to find you an empty seat on another plane for the same destination.
While it’s important to be polite to the people who were trying to help you, it’s also important to treat them with respect.
Usually, an agent will try to accommodate a delayed passenger by leaving an empty seat.
Get an Airfare Refund When It’s Your Best Option
The DOT has a rule that states that passengers are entitled to a full refund if their flight was cancelled due to a reason other than a disease outbreak.
Although it’s possible to get a refund, it’s also important to remember that rebooking will increase your chances of getting charged more.
Check Credit Cards for Travel Perks
Premium credit cards usually have perks that are designed to help travellers save money and stay productive during their delayed flights. Some also offer concierge services to help rebook flights.
Some credit cards also have travel insurance that covers non-refundable expenses, such as hotel accommodations and meals. These cards can be used with the same terms and conditions.
Count on Your Travel Advisor’s Assistance
Travel advisors have various tools to help customers get through a flight delay or cancellation. For instance, they might offer advance waivers for customers who are expecting weather delays.
If you didn’t purchase tickets through a travel advisor, a plan from Cranky Concierge can help you get back on track with your original travel plans.
Consider Using Travel Insurance to Cover Additional Nonrefundable Costs
Travel insurance is also a must for people who want to protect their money. According to Daniel Durazo, a spokesperson for Allianz Global Assistance USA, travel insurance can cover lost expenses, such as hotel accommodations and transportation.