Flight delays are a reality of life for airline passengers. But staying level-headed and polite can help alleviate the stress of delayed flights.
Knowing your rights is also key. Airline passengers are entitled to compensation depending on how long their flight is delayed. Check your airline’s contract of carriage for more information on this.
1 Speak to the airline’s customer service team
Whether in person or on the phone, airline customer service teams can be a huge help when flight delays are involved. But a lot depends on how they’re approached. Honey attracts more flies than vinegar, and a positive attitude can make all the difference.
According to Noem, airlines should be transparent about their flight status and provide regular updates. He also recommends explaining how weather impacts air traffic flow and sharing information about the aircraft’s maintenance.
It’s also important to keep in mind that some credit cards offer trip delay reimbursement. If yours does, it’s worth bringing your travel documents to the airport and making a claim once you land. Just be sure to avoid excessive expenses like alcohol or luxury hotel rooms — airlines are only obligated to compensate for reasonable expenses.
2 Use social media to your advantage
Flight delays can be stressful and frustrating, but getting upset or angry will not help the situation. Instead, try to stay calm and patient and use the time to relax, meditate, or find other ways to keep yourself occupied.
You can also try to rebook your flight using the airline’s app or website. For example, if you have a basic economy ticket with American Airlines, you can ask them to put you on a competitor’s flight that may be available.
Another option is to call the airline’s customer service team. While you can try speaking to them at the airport, it may be quicker and more effective to call them directly. You can also check whether you are entitled to meals or hotel accommodation if your flight is delayed. However, be aware that airlines will only reimburse reasonable expenses. It is best to have receipts ready so you can prove your claim.
3 Check your insurance documents
Imagine you’re returning home from a holiday with friends. You’ve spent a week sightseeing, eating delicious food, and having the time of your life. But when you get to the airport, your flight is delayed 24 hours due to air traffic issues.
It’s worth checking your travel insurance documents to see what you’re entitled to if you experience a flight delay or cancellation. This can help you decide if it’s worth filing a claim for compensation.
Airlines aren’t required to compensate travelers based on federal laws, but they usually have their own internal policies that offer benefits like meal vouchers, hotel stays, and travel credit. For example, the majority of major airlines commit to rebooking passengers on a later flight at no additional cost when they have a three-hour or more delay, and some even offer hotel stays. Other benefits you might be entitled to include communication and accommodation.
4 Understand your rights as a passenger
Knowing your rights as an airline passenger can help you deal with flight delays and cancellations. Passengers are generally entitled to compensation if their flights are delayed or canceled due to reasons that are not within the airline’s control. This includes factors like weather, security, and air traffic issues.
Unfortunately, the rules on flight delay compensation are a little murky. Airlines are not required to provide passengers with meals or hotel rooms unless they are delayed for more than three hours, and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s airline customer service dashboard only outlines the major airlines’ commitments to passengers affected by controllable flight delays.
If you’re traveling on business, flight delays can be especially frustrating because they can affect your meeting schedule and make it difficult to connect with clients or colleagues. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to keep calm and stay productive during a flight delay.
5 Arrive at the airport early
Flight delays can cause all sorts of stress for travelers, and not just the annoyance factor. They may also result in missed meetings, family events, or even being late for work (ouch).
The most important thing to do when dealing with flight delays is to arrive at the airport early. This is because airlines can’t wait for a few stray passengers, and they will likely rebook you on a different flight.
There are a variety of reasons why flights might be delayed, including weather conditions, air traffic control shortages, and holiday crunches. To minimize flight delays, consider flying nonstop flights and opting into airline notifications that offer real-time updates on departure times. Also, try to book your flight for later in the day if possible, as morning flights can be more prone to delay due to fog. You can also use the website FlightAware to monitor general flight trends across the country.
While flight delays may be frustrating and inconvenient, there are things you can do to make the most of the situation. It’s important to stay calm and be respectful to airline staff and fellow passengers. You can also use this time to practice mindfulness or other relaxation techniques or find ways to pass the delay such as through food and drink, a good book, or electronic entertainment. It’s also important to know your rights as a passenger, including the amount you are entitled to by law for controllable and uncontrollable flight delays.
Lastly, try to arrive at the airport early. This will give you the best chance of being rebooked on another flight and minimize disruption. It’s also a good idea to research airlines and their recent history of on-time departures before booking.