20 Tips & Hacks for Delayed & Cancelled Flights

Published on December 2, 2020 by

Tips for what to do when your flight is delayed or cancelled. The reason for the delay matters. It the delay is the airline’s fault you will be entitled to lots of assistance from the airline. If the delay is due to weather, then you are on your own. This is part of my Travel Advice Series.

1. Pay attention for delays. Check the status before you leave for the airport. Check again when you get to the airport. Sign-up for “notifications” from the airline. Install their mobile app. The app often sends notifications before the announcements are made in the airport. And finding out early can be key!
Anticipate the issue, check the weather,.. and don’t book crazy tight connections.. unless you are OK misconnecting.
HACK: check the flight status of the incoming plane
2. Don’t panic… But do act quickly. Be flexible. Be polite.
NOTE: This will all be much easier if you are carry-on only
3. You might have been rebooked automatically. Check your text messages, email, mobile app.
4 Know your other options. Other flights, other airports, other connections, other airlines
NOTE: I usually research these before hand so I’m “ready” and can act quick if need be.
ONT to LAX story.
Google Flights, Sky Scanner, and Kayak are all good tools to research alternates.
5. Pay attention to the reason for the delay. If it’s the airlines fault then ask for compensation. Meal vouchers, hotels, transportation to another airport. But you often DO HAVE TO ASK. DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK “Am I entitled to any compensation?”
If the delay is weather… many airlines let you proactively change your flights ahead of time. Take advantage of this.
6. Don’t be a sheep
7. Call the airline — You can do this while you are on the plane.
REMINDER: BE NICE! Be polite and respectful to those trying to assist you
HACK: If the US call centers have long hold times, try an international number.
8. Go to the airline Lounge
9. Customer Service airside
10. Ticket counters landside
NOTE: This is one of my favorites, because people don’t think about it. Yes, you’ll have to clear security again, but you might be headed to another airport so not a big deal. I do this all the time flying out of SNA and rebook through LAX. If you rebook your outbound flight to a different airport, you might want your return to go there too.
11. Go standby at the gate of the other flight you want to get on
NOTE: Elite status helps for this. Check the monitors for the length of the stand-by list to see if it’s even worth your time.
12. Sometimes even another gate agent at a different gate
13. Will the delay be so great that you have no reason to go anymore? Ask for a refund, or even a refund and a return flight if at a connection point. Don’t accept a credit if you really want a refund.
14. Nothing available on the original carrier… ask for them to put you on a different airline. Flew on another airline? Ask for “original routing credit” on your original carrier.
NOTE: If you’re put on another carrier you’ll typically have to “collect” your luggage and recheck it. This takes more time.
15. Can’t get anything out of the airline? Research how much new tickets cost on a different airline. Might be worth that $200 if it gets you where you want to. You might be able to get a refund later for your “unused” flight on the original carrier.
16. Was the delay really long? Contact the airlines customer service to Express your displeasure.
17. Know the rules
In the US carriers aren’t required to do much — unless you are “Involuntary Denied Boarding” — this is what happened to that guy on United Airlines that was dragged off the plane a few years ago
But in the EU, you are entitled to cash compensation
18. Use your credit card benefits or travel insurance
Some premium cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve offer a trip-delay benefit for reasonable expenses incurred during a delay. This includes lodging, food, transportation and other necessities.
Keep ALL receipts, documentation. They typically need proof of round-trip travel, your old itinerary, your new itinerary, credit card statements and receipts for expenses incurred. Keep itemized receipts for meals.
19. Find a good place in the airport to pass the time
Buy a day pass for the lounge (or use your credit card benefits)
Book a transit hotel or nap pod
Go for a long walk around the terminals
Really long delay? Rent a car and go exploring!
It’s all better than just sitting by the gate area for 8 hours
Looks like it will be overnight? Book a hotel early before they fill up
20. Watch more YP videos!
But I’m always learning! What tips do you have that I missed?


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