The chances are, you'll do everything you can to improve your chances of a successful travel experience. You might spend weeks planning your itinerary, make sure that you get to the airport more than 3 hours before your flight is scheduled, and even download your airline app to ensure that you're up-to-date with the latest announcements. Unfortunately, sometimes no matter how well you plan, there's nothing that can be done to prevent a flight delay or cancellation.
The good news is that if you are hit by an unexpected delay or cancellation, there are things you can do to get the most out of the experience. While you may not arrive at your destination on time, you can potentially get compensation for the time that you've wasted.
What to Do if Your Flight Is Delayed
They say that knowledge is power, and that's certainly the case when it comes to flight delays and cancellations. The best thing you can do if you're concerned that your flight isn't going to take off (or arrive) on time, is learning as much as you can about what you're entitled to as a traveler.
As soon as you hear about the delay or cancellation, use your smartphone to get online and research the company that you're flying with. Most airlines will have a page on their website that explains their policies regarding delays and cancellations. However, keep in mind that under the EU Denied boarding regulations, if you're flying with a European airline, and departing from a European city, then you will be offered a refund for the full cost of your flight if you're delayed for more than 5 hours.
Understanding the Rules about Flight Delays
While you're waiting to find out what's going to happen next with your travel plans, the best thing you can do is get to a comfortable area where you can be out of the way of the agitated crowds of unhappy travelers. Ideally, you'll want to go to an airport lounge. These lounges are a premium environment for people who paid a little more for their boarding tickets. If your ticket doesn't give you access to a premium lounge, then you can generally buy your way in for a couple of hours anyway.
Once you're settled into a comfortable place, you can call the airline on your smartphone or connect with them over social media. Most companies today have a social media team on hand to manage complaints as quickly as possible.
Though the rules change depending on which airline you're flying with, if you're delayed for a period of two or more hours then you should be eligible to ask your airline to pay for food and drink for you and your family. Additionally, the airline will also make sure that you can conduct any phone calls or send emails that are necessary to make sure people who are waiting for you know what's going on.
What Happens with Extended Delays?
According to the rules set out for EU travelers, the longer you're delayed by something that's within the airline's control, the more you're entitled to. For instance, the airline should be able to provide you with accommodation and transportation to and from a hotel if you're going to be delayed overnight.
Importantly, you'll only be able to claim compensation for the cost of the flight if it's possible to prove that the delay was the airline's responsibility. For instance, if there were a technical fault with the plane, then it would be up to the airline to compensate you if you're delayed for more than 3 hours. However, you won't necessarily be given compensation if the delay was caused by a strike, bad weather, or something else the airline can't control.
The amount of compensation you receive will depend on various factors, including the distance of the flight, the length of the delay, and more.
What if Your Flight is Cancelled?
If your flight delay lasts for longer than 5 hours, or the flight is canceled altogether, then you should be eligible for a full refund for the cost you paid for that flight, including the cost of additional flights that you booked with the same airline. You may also be able to access a replacement flight to get you to your destination, along with compensation for the time you've wasted.
The most important thing you can do is get in touch with the airline as quickly as possible and learn as much as you can about the details of your situation.