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9 Tips for Handling a Cancelled or Delayed Flight

©istockphoto/DragonImages

©istockphoto/DragonImages

An unscheduled change to your flight can alter your travel plans in horrifying ways. It’s easy to get angry at the first sign of a cancelled or delayed flight, but yelling at the airline agent isn’t the appropriate form of action. Here are some tips to help you handle a cancelled or delayed flight in a manner that’s more likely to get you some satisfying results.

Be Polite, But Firm
When you pay for a ticket, you’re paying for a ride on a plane that leaves at a specific time. Many airlines try to ignore this and imply that it’s perfectly acceptable to put you on a flight that leaves the next day. You have to insist on leaving the same day, on another airline if need be, but don’t lose your cool. No airline agent is going to respond well to someone yelling at them—their job is already stressful enough.

Check For Reimbursements
If your airline delays your flight overnight, make sure they’ll reimburse any hotel costs incurred due to their error. Most will provide a voucher of some sort and even pay for your meals, if necessary.

Agree to A New Connection
Sometimes an airline will have another flight leaving the airport the same day, but taking a different path to your destination. You might have to add an extra stop and a few hours onto your trip, but it’s better than losing a day or two. Ask if there are any other flights to take that could end up putting you where you need to be.

Call the Airline
Many airlines, particularly international ones, only have handlers at their ticket counters and not actual employees. These handlers often can’t make decisions regarding buying you a ticket on a different plane. That’s why you should call the airline directly. Their customer service department can often get you in the air faster than any handler can.

Don’t Take It Out On The Flight Crew
It sucks that you had to wait for a different flight and are having a bad day, but that’s not the flight crew’s fault. They don’t want to hear you complain, don’t deserve to be yelled at, and certainly have better things to do than wipe your tears for you. Leave your anger at the gate and try to have a pleasant experience.

Have Insurance
Travel insurance can sometimes help cover the cost of unexpected delays and cancellations, particularly if you have to book a new fight yourself. Always sign up for travel insurance when booking a flight to make sure you’re covered.

Arrive Early
If your flight is delayed, you want to be the first at the counter to discuss your options. Other flights might be available, but they could fill up fast with other passengers on your flight trying to get to the same place. Arriving early is always the best course of action.

Seek Out Lounges
If you find yourself needing to be at the airport early the next morning for a new flight, consider crashing at the airport. Seek out a comfortable, safe spot and set up shop. Just don’t be rude and take up entire aisles of seats.

If you plan on passing out in the airport, it’s a good idea to have an antitheft pack or wallet to protect your assets while you snooze.

Have a Drink
Seriously, you’ve earned it.

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