What to Do When…Your Flight is Cancelled

We’ve all had it happen. You’ve raced to get there, dealt with the security lines, lugged your carry-on through the airport and finally nestled down in your seat only to hear the pilot say that the flight has been cancelled. What do you do?

  1. Be thankful they cancelled your flight while you are still on the ground. Better than having mechanical problems or weather problems while you are in the air, right?
  2. The next key thing is to get rebooked as soon as possible. Here’s the airlines typical priority for rebooking seats: high-status frequent fliers, high-fare passengers and then families with children. Then it’s usually first-come, first-served. If you used an agent, try calling them first. Next step, use your cell phone and call the airline direct. As a last resort stand in the long line and rebook with the local airline reps.   At a minimum, try calling the airline while you are in line. Just remember that if you call too soon the agents might not be aware that the flight has been cancelled. Just be patient and call again.
  3. It’s important that you know the cause of the cancellation because different causes mean different outcomes. If it’s because of weather, you are on your own for your hotel, if needed. If it’s because of mechanical problem or flight crew shortage, then the airline should pay for your accommodations. It pays to know the rules. http://www.usa.gov/topics/travel/air/resolve-problems/flight.shtml
  4. If you have to stay overnight, try booking your own hotel as a back up in case the airline doesn’t have enough rooms or you don’t like the hotel they are using. Sometimes you can negotiate with the airline to pay for the alternate hotel and sometimes it’s worth paying on your own for a decent night’s sleep.
  5. Have patience! This is part of traveling. Most of the times things go smoothly, but let’s face it, you are never in total control of your trip. Remember that the airlines don’t want to cancel a flight unless they have to. The airlines lose on average $5,770 for every domestic flight they cancel and up to $42,890 for every cross Atlantic trip.

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