How to Deal with a Flight Delay

If you’re a frequent flyer, then you know this event happens and it’s not exactly fun.  If you and your family have gone on vacations and flown to your destination, chances are you may have experienced this, also.  Your flight has been canceled or delayed.

As a family on vacation, you only have a certain period to enjoy your trip and being delayed or worse, trying to find another flight out, add enormous stress to your situation. If you have children, then the thought of having kids uncomfortable and asking the age-old question, “Are we there yet?” is enough to make you want to forget the whole thing before you ever start.  And don’t even think about the flight home.

What if that’s when this happens? You and your family are worn out from all that sight-seeing and visiting relatives. All you can think about is getting home, putting those cute little screaming cherubs to bed and leaning back onto your own pillow, closing your eyes and resting. That true kind of rest after a week or so of strange pillows, smells, and nightly noises. The loudspeaker announces your flight has been delayed, so you will probably miss your connecting one.  Or worse, it’s been cancelled and you’re out of luck needing to find another flight home.

The United States has no law requiring airlines to reimburse you or even help you find another flight home. Their refund policies require you to fill out a mountain of forms and wait. Anywhere from 5 days to 20 days.  And they aren’t required to refund you at all if it’s because of safety reason that they had to delay or cancel.

If you’re a frequent business traveler, you’ve probably experienced this more than once in your business flights. And for you, getting to the meeting on time is critical to your company. Nothing looks worse than walking late into a meeting with a high profile client and saying, “Sorry I’m a day late, my flight was cancelled.”

Luckily, there are a couple of things you can do to prepare for just such an occurrence. It will give you peace of mind to know that, should your lottery ticket be called and you become one of those holding a ticket that is useless.

The first is to familiarize yourself with every rule the Department of Transportation, DOT, has on the subject and know exactly what to do when that happens to you.  It’s an exhaustive, detailed read and if you’re proficient at reading government speak, then you should be just fine. You can find the link here. I wish you luck.

If, on the other hand, you just want to know there is someone who has your back, has experience with just your sort of problem, and can help you navigate the issues, there are companies who will help you with an airline cancellation refund.  You don’t have to go through that stress alone.

Finally, some airlines will offer you insurance, in case your flight is cancelled. If you want to spend the extra dough to get that insurance, just remember that, like all insurances, there are hoops to jump through and you might not get your full amount refunded.

The truth is, it’s usually in the best interest of the airlines to accommodate you, and get you home. But with the recent incidents of airlines acting poorly, do you really want to take a chance with your family? Would you enjoy calling Uncle Jim for a loan because you maxed out your credit cards on the trip, and ask for a loan to get home?  You know Uncle Jim, he’s the one who made fun of your younger brother for asking to borrow that wrench over thanksgiving. I’m sure he’ll be more than happy to help you out. No strings attached.

If you’re a business person, you certainly do not want to lose productivity sitting in a noisy airport, trying to conference call in your next client to talk about how committed you are to their project and how you swear your company meets its deadlines.

Here’s how the conversation might go as you sit in the airport.

You: As I was saying, ABC widgets is a serious partner and will treat your business with the respect it deserves.

Client: Do I hear kids yelling in the background?

You: Yes, ma’am, but we are committed to giving you the highest quality service…

Client: Did I just hear the intercom say your flight is being canceled?

You: Um, I’m not sure, maybe.  Yes, I believe that’s correct. I…

Client:  So, you’re not going to make it to our once a year board meeting in a couple hours. The one that I told you was key to gaining our business?

You: Um… Well…

Don’t let this happen to you. Whether you’re on vacation or business, your flight to and from your destination can be a nightmare or a breeze. It’s up to you to be prepared for it.