Flight Canceled or Delayed? Here's What to Do
Issue #32-23 of a weekly family travel newsletter from The Family Travel Guy takes a look at what to do if your flight is cancelled or delayed
What you need to know and do if your next flight is canceled or delayed
Like clockwork, it seems like every Summer travel season we constantly hear about Summer travel flight delays and cancellations due to various reasons including weather, plane trouble, over-scheduling or some other reason.
Over the past few years on our flights we have been able to avoid major delays and cancellations, but on our recent Summer flight from Miami, our Delta flight was delayed on the runway for 2.5 hours due to thunderstorms that seemed to appear out of nowhere, which caused us to miss our connection in Atlanta (we had a three hour layover too).
Since our flight was in the afternoon leaving out of Miami, we would have been on the last flight out of Atlanta to Sacramento, but since we missed that, we were stuck overnight in Atlanta.
While a lot of things went wrong and it was frustrating, I will say that the onboard wifi and Delta chat on our flight from Miami to Atlanta was pretty good and responsive, although it did take a while to get everything sorted out.
I was scrambling to see if I could find another flight that night or if we’d be stuck and have to book an airport hotel for the night. Looking back, I probably should have been better prepared and should have read up on Delta Airlines policies on flight delays and cancellations, hence the information and tips below from my recent experience.
What to do if your flight is delayed or cancelled?
If your flight has been canceled or delayed, remember that federal law entitles you to certain benefits and compensation.
If your flight is cancelled, here is what I would recommend doing
Make sure you have the airlines app downloaded and ready to use
Most airline apps allow for flights to be rebooked easily for free, provided you can supply your six-character reservation code. They may also offer chat services through the app and have the numbers needed, in case you want to speak with someone over the phone. During times of mass travel disruptions, you should have all of these options ready to go and try all different avenues for getting help.
Reference the Cancellation and Delay Dashboard for compensation
For cancelled flights, you may be entitled to meal vouchers, complimentary hotels and complimentary transportation to and from accommodations.
If your flight is delayed, here is what I would recommend doing
Research other flights
Check other flights to your destination and request being put on the next flight out. If a flight isn’t available on your airline, an agent may be able to book you on a flight with a different carrier.
Inquire about compensation
If you’ve been delayed or stranded for a few hours, inquire about compensation
How to avoid flight cancellations and delays in the future
Keep track of your plane
On the day of your flight, keep track of the plane and its status through the airlines app or a third-party app like FlightAware or TripIt Pro.
I always use FlightAware, as it is an easy way to keep track of your flight and where your plane is coming from and going.
Fly in the morning
Delays can be unpredictable, but there are historically fewer cancellations and delays in the morning.
Fly direct / non-stop when possible
I always prefer flying non-stop to avoid potential delays, missed connections and probability of lost luggage.
Opt for longer layovers
Booking a flight with a longer layover can sometimes help provide enough time to make your connecting flight if there is a delay.
More Flight Tips
Avoid checking luggage (for shorter trips, if possible)
While we are “team check-in”, the recent delay and overnight stay without our checked luggage will make us consider packing a carryon bag with some of our travel toiletries and essentials, just in case we get delayed or have another overnight stay without our bags.
Purchase travel insurance
Most credit cards provide some level of protection and benefits, but the only way to get more comprehensive coverage is with a travel insurance policy. I personally purchase a yearly family travel insurance plan that covers all of our trips.
Consider a credit card with travel protections
Most premium credit cards provide coverage for delays and cancellations when used to book flights and may also cover delayed baggage, lost baggage and other flight related items.
Research detailed information about airline customer service commitment plans for your airline
Learn more about Aviation Consumer Protection from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Office at their official website, linked above.
"Airplanes are beautiful dreams with wings"
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The Family Travel Bulletin is a once weekly newsletter by Randy Singh featuring a curated summary of family travel news, special offers, travel advisor insights and recent blog posts from The Family Travel Guy to help you travel better, travel smarter and optimize value along the way.
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