What Should I Do If My Flight Has Been Canceled Or Delayed?


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What should I do if my flight has been canceled or delayed?

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Computer glitches. Awful weather. Lack of staff. Holiday crunches. So many things can cause a flight to be delayed or cancelled.


In the most recent widespread incident, over 2,400 Southwest Airlines flights were delayed on April 18, 2023 due to “data connectivity issues resulting from a firewall failure”, prompting the Federal Aviation Administration to issue a ground stop that was later cancelled.

In addition to a number of other incidents of massive cancellations and delays, it’s no surprise that people are wary of getting to their destination on time or not at all.

Here are some general tips to help travelers navigate the system if a flight is delayed or cancelled. Practical tips are in bold:


Days before the infamous December 2022 bombing cyclone, many US airlines offered their passengers the chance to change their flight for free.

When you know that a major weather event is forecast, jump on those rejection offers fast, said Scott Keys, founder Going.com (formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights). The early birds have the best choice of the remaining worms (i.e. places and flights).

As frustrating as it is to find out that your flight has been delayed for a long time, or worse, canceled, it’s best to find out from the comfort of your home or hotel room and take new measures from there.

“Check the status of your flight before heading to the airport. Most of these notifications don’t come at the last minute,” Keys said. “Save on your trip to the airport.”


Keys told CNN Travel in an interview that you should sign up for free airline text alertsWith about the status of flights when buying a ticket. You must also download your carrier’s app.

You can also enter your airline and flight number directly in the Google search bar to get the status that way. It’s also handy for friends or family members who are on standby to pick you up.

Keyes also suggested website check Flight Aware to track larger flight trends across the country.

Sometimes delays and cancellations happen after you have arrived at the airport. Once the bad news has been delivered, what should you do?


Keyes said head to the airline agent’s desk as soon as possible – and be prepared to multitask while you’re standing in line.

Fast is the key word here. It will matter who arrives first. It’s first come, first served. Positioning next to the table can pay off,” Keys said.

Then you might want call your operator while you wait. Depending on your place in the queue, this it might be faster to call the call center. “Whatever happens first, great,” he said.

Calls to US domestic numbers can have a very long wait. Keyes suggested try an international call center for your carrier instead.

“Most travelers residing in the US don’t even think about calling Delta’s Canadian Help Desk. You could contact the agent much faster. All of them will handle your booking in the same way.”

you also can use the self-service kiosk, American Airlines Speaks. “Scan your boarding pass or enter a record locator to see updated trip details. From there, you can also change flights and print new boarding passes.”

Travel advice site Travel Lens offers using social media to your advantage.

“Not all customer service teams are as helpful as they should be, and it’s not always easy to reach them by phone,” CNN Travel said in an email.

“Airlines value their reputation on social media, and platforms like Twitter are a great way to connect with an employee. If you use Twitter to communicate, it’s important stay polite and calm because it will work in your favor.”

Passengers wait in line to check in for a flight at Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Virginia on Monday, December 27.

Whether you’re talking to an agent in person or over the phone, your approach can make a big difference. It starts with a relationship.

“Honey attracts more flies than vinegar,” Keys said. “Look at it from the point of view of airline agents. They’ve been dealing with angry customers since the start of the pandemic. The agent is the one with the most ability to help you.

Ask beautifully and sympathetically much more likely to get what you want than to be a jerk.”

He had one more piece of advice when it was your turn to talk to an agent about new arrangements:Get ready to offer your options. Self-study is absolutely helpful.”

Your agent can speed up the process if you’ve already looked at the new itineraries and possible offers while you waited. Be prepared to explain what you want.

If you have booked through Expedia or another third party website, you will have to deal with them in case of cancellation.

If the price is the same, Keys offered you book directly with the airline. In case something goes wrong, “it’s going to be a lot harder with multiple policy sets” when you book through a third party.

US PIRGconsumer protection group, offers you avoid booking stops if possiblee. The more often you stop, the greater the chance that something will go wrong.

The group also supports Keys’ advice be nice and polite to agents but also says that consumers should be persistent in trying to resolve the situation in a satisfactory manner.

Cooperation between airlines can play into your hands.

“When flights are cancelled, many airlines have the option put you on another carrier’s flight because they have interline agreements,” Lusson Smith, Going.com Product Specialist, told CNN Travel in June 2022.

“That means, for example, if Delta has service outages but American Airlines is flying to your destination, you can take that flight.”

“If you choose not to board on a later flight and book a new ticket out of your own pocket, you are eligible for a refund, although this may not help you get to where you need to be,” Smith said. “As we all know, last minute flights are very expensive.”

A woman and child wait for their flight with another traveler at Miami International Airport on Monday, December 27.

What do you do if it looks like you won’t be able to fly out until the next day and you’re not in your hometown?

Ask the airline to accommodate you in a hotel or issue a hotel voucher.. They could do it; They can not. It’s not required by law,” Keys said.

They’re less likely to do so if it’s weather-related than if the problem is aircraft mechanics or personnel, he said.

What you can get depends on the airline itself and the specific circumstances in which the flight was cancelled.

Check out the policies. For example, Delta Airlines says in some cases, it will provide a hotel voucher if the journey is interrupted more than four hours after the scheduled departure time, when the delay is between 22:00 and 06:00.

Whatever you do, at least ask, Keys said. A voucher for hotels and even for ground transport and food is unlikely to be offered just like that.

In some cases, airlines will provide you with accommodation, Smith said, but this is case-by-case and never guaranteed.

Also, your credit card can be your friend in this situation.

“The good news is that many credit cards offer travel protection for example, a refund if a flight cancellation forces you to book a hotel, meals, etc.” Smith said. “These travel protections are usually enabled automatically if you used the card to pay for your flight. Google your credit card and travel protections to see what specific deals your card offers.”

If your flight is delayed rather than completely cancelled, you can weigh whether to wait at the airport. Depending on your personal circumstances, sitting there for five or six hours may be easier than walking to and from your hotel. Also, Keyes said, check if there is a hotel at the airport.

Glasses Guy advises trying to get into the airport lounge if you can, where you can recharge your phone and rest.

Stay safe. If extreme weather conditions disrupt air travel, attempting to travel by road can be dangerous. Although it is unpleasant to stay still, it is always better to be late than not to come at all.

Consider buying travel insuranceadvises Airport parking reservation in an email to CNN Travel.

It states that “Most travel insurance policies provide additional coverage in the event of travel uncertainty. Additional (coverage) usually applies if your flight is delayed more than 12 hours due to a strike, adverse weather or mechanical failure.

The site also recommends keep your purchase receipts at the airport. You can try to get the money back from the airline later.

But stick to the basics. “However, airlines only pay for “reasonable” expenses, so you are unlikely to get refunds for purchases such as alcohol, expensive food or extravagant hotels. “

US Department of Transportation speaks you are entitled to a refund of your ticket due to a cancellation or “significant delay” and you decide not to travel.

This rule applies regardless of the reason an airline cancels or delays a flight. However, the question of what constitutes a “significant delay” remains open.

According to the DOT website, “it has not specifically defined what constitutes a ‘significant delay’. Whether you are eligible for a refund depends on many factors, including the length of the delay, the length of the flight, and your specific circumstances. DOT will determine whether you are eligible for a refund after a significant delay on a case-by-case basis.”

Tomasz Pavlyshyn, CEO AirHelpsaid in an email to CNN Travel that flyers should try to avoid vouchers.

“If travelers are denied boarding, they should not volunteer their seat in exchange for privileges or a voucher. If they do so, they may waive their right to any further compensation,” Pavlyshyn said. “Certainly, if the airline makes a convincing enough offerthey may prefer to take it.”

CNN’s Gregory Wallace contributed to this report.


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