Flight delays are like pimples the day before your graduation photo shoot. You won’t see it coming. And it hammers down on you on one of the most important days in your life. Imagine the dread when the announcer booms out that your trip to Sydney has been put off for the day due to weather or technical concerns. There is no way to get around it.
Or is it? However catastrophic it may be, there are some workarounds you can do to survive a flight cancellation (and no, yelling on every airport crew you come across is not one of them). Here are six the things you should be doing when the announcement gets dropped on you.
Prevention is always better than cure. And avoiding the circumstances that will lead to a flight cancellation will save you from a lot of headache.
First, watch out for the weather, and try to avoid flying during heavy storms. And if you can, fly direct instead of stopping in a city or country prone to bad weather.
And second, fly in the morning. Maintenance issue-related delays and cancellations mostly happen late in the day, as the issues accumulate as the day goes by. And if ever the cancellation happens during your morning flight (because fate really likes to test your patience), you still have the entire day to catch another one.
We have mentioned this before. Once the announcement gets out. Drop everything and call your airline customer service ASAP to get you rebooked (the call queue gets exponentially longer with every minute you waste not calling). Somewhere out there is a plane going to the same destination with an empty seat or two and your airline can find that for you. Just be ready with the information they might ask such as your record locator to get the transaction immediately done. Other people from your canceled flight are also doing this. So hustle.
Sometimes it is not the airline's fault that a snowstorm spontaneously appeared to spoil everything, and yelling at the crew all day isn't a sensible move. Accept what is happening and book a hotel if you will be waiting overnight. A smartphone app called HotelTonight helps you find a hotel nearest to the airport, book a room, and even schedule your next flight. A good rest will help you collect yourself and plan your next move.
Most airlines provide meal and accommodation vouchers if the flight is canceled due to airplane-related issues (if it’s a weather concern, they do not owe you anything). ASK if it is available. On occasions where the cancellation leads you to an overnight delay, they will most likely provide hotel stay for the night.
If a shuttle service is being offered to take you to the hotel, get the seat nearest to the door so you can get checked in ahead of the other panicking passengers. Reserve for a shuttle ride back to the airport to avoid missing your flight.
We usually put our toiletries inside our check-in baggage. And in unexpected mishaps like a cancellation, we get separated from our toothbrushes, bar soap, and dental floss as they get re-routed to our destination while we toil the night stranded.
If this happens, approach the airline's baggage service office and ask for an amenity kit. This will usually contain the aforementioned essentials plus a few more like deodorant, body lotion, cologne, shaving kit, and sleeping mask.
Nobody deserves to have their flight canceled. It is one of the most infuriating things to happen to anybody aside from stepping on a Lego block barefoot. But that doesn't mean you can take it out on the flight attendants, airport crew, security guards, or the gate attendants like they are in conspiracy to call off your flight. Ninety percent of the time, it is nobody’s fault. The weather got bad, or the engine messed up. You can't put the blame on them.
Be nice and be calm to them to better work out your situation. Raising your voice will only make them defensive and impair their judgment and their ability to assist you if you keep throwing a fit. That will not help you in the long run.