Flights How to Deal With Flight Delays or Cancellations

Published on October 16th, 2012 | by admin


How to Deal With Flight Delays or Cancellations

Flight delays or cancellations are very common issues. Approximately one out of five flights in the United States is delayed or canceled each year. You may believe that you will get compensation if your flight gets delay or cancelled, but that’s not always the case. Whether you will receive compensation for the flight delay and cancellations is dependent on which airline you take and where you get on and off the airline. Besides, you may also consider compensation from third parties, such as the credit companies you used to buy the tickets.


I. Government Policies about Flight Delay and Cancellation

United States
In the United States, federal regulations don’t require airlines to do anything for the flight delays or cancellations. You have to dependent on each airline’s own policy to deal with it. Some airlines, especially those that provide low priced tickets, usually won’t give any amenities for the delay or cancellation, even it is their fault. Also be aware that your check-in baggage still goes to the original destination on the original flight even you reroute it.

For unaccompanied minors, some airlines will arrange representatives to help organize the meals and accommodations for the minors or disabled persons. You should always have a backup plan to deal with the uncertainty caused by the airline delay and cancellation that results in any extra time in the airport, missing the connection and arriving at the destination airport well after the expected time.

When your flight is late, first you should get to know why it is late and the estimated time of the flight arrival. If the delay was caused by the airline– such as mechanical issues or lack of crews, your airline usually will arrange you to be on an alternate flight with no increase in your fare, and if other airlines have a closer schedule available with seats, you may also ask the airline to endorse your ticket to the other airline. However, you should be aware that there is no federal rule requiring them to do so. Let alone to compensate the loss caused by the delay, such as missing an expensive cruise, an important business meeting, or a great event, etc.

To please passengers, some airlines do have a policy for compensating passengers whose flights are delayed or cancelled. Those policies may include free or reduced price meals, hotel rooms, or phone calls. Several airlines, such as United Airlines, even provide a voucher used for buying a future flight ticket. Since not all US airlines that have a compensation policy will do it automatically, if the delay was caused due to a fault of the airline, you should always call to ask whether the airline will compensate you.

Europe Union
For all flights departed from an EU airport, or EU airlines departed outside EU countries but with a destination within the EU, the law requires airlines provide compensation to passengers who experience delays or cancellations.

As the law, regardless of the cause of the delay, if your flight departure is delayed for more than two hours, your airline must provide you with necessary food and drinks, and compensation for related communications, transportation and accommodation costs. If your flight is delayed by three hours or more, and the delay was the airline’s fault, you can claim compensation of between €250 and €600.

If a flight is cancelled, passengers are entitled to re-routing for free to the same destination at the earliest time, later rerouting to the same destination at the passenger’s convenience, or a refund of the ticket as well as a return flight to the place of the first departure.

You can find more information on EU specific regulations at the Civil Aviation Authority’s Website.

Other International Flights in the United States
There are no requirements to compensate passengers on most other international flights that are delayed or cancelled.


II. Policies about Oversold Flights

United states: There is no compensation required by federal law if passengers are bumped from an oversold flight and the airline can provide alternative flight to get the passenger to the destination within one hour of the original scheduled arrival.  However, if  it gets the passenger there between one and two hours late, federal law requires that the airline pay the equivalent of the one-way fare up to $400, and  twice the cost of the one-way fare up to $800 if it is more than two hours late.  You can find more information on the US Department of Transportation’s Aviation Consumer and Protection website.

EU Countries: For a flight departing from an EU country, or  an EU airline that departed outside the EU for a destination within the EU, you are entitled to the reimbursement of the cost of the ticket or re-routing to the final destination, plus any necessary expenses of meals, hotel accommodation, transportation caused by waiting for the alternative flight, and a  compensation ranging from 250  to 600 Euros.

Under these conditions, airlines usually encourages passengers  to voluntarily give up their seats by giving a compensation check. If you want to be a volunteer, before you do so,  it would be wise to  ask the scheduled arrival time, whether the airline will pay for food, lodging, or other extra costs due to taking a later flight,  and whether it has restrictions on voucher or the compensations that are being offered.


III. Compensation from Travel Insurance Companies

You may also get compensation from traveler insurance companies. They  usually covers delays and cancellations for expenses of transportation, lodging, and meals related to a delay or cancellation up to certain amount.


IV. Compensation from Credit Card Companies

Many credit card companies also offer travel compensation if you purchase the tickets using their cards.  For example, Discover Escape credit card covers trip cancellations up to the cost of the trip, luggage reimbursement, and flight insurance. If the flight is delayed more than six hours, they will also reimburse up to $150 per day in food and lodging expenses.


Flights that depart early in the day are less likely to be delayed than a later flight since it won’t be affected by another flight’s delay.  If an early flight does get delayed or canceled, you will have more alternative choices. Hence, if possible, try to book an early flight. Always leave enough time for flight transfers, and the starting time for your next important activities, especially when you take an airline in the United States.

Flight delays and cancellations are certainly not fun. However, with the right knowledge and good preparation, you can reduce its adverse effect. In some cases, you may even take advantage of these inconveniences and end up better off in the end.


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