Bad weather. computer glitches. staff shortage. Overbooked flights. Inflation. Holiday Crunches. For many air travelers, it’s been a tough drudgery for much of 2022.
And it looks like the year is ending as rough as it came, with a wintry “bomb cyclone” that could make traveling a cold, chaotic affair in the week leading up to Christmas. What if you are one of the unfortunate passengers involved in these events?
Here is some advice to help travelers navigate the system when flights are delayed or canceled, whether due to staff shortages, weather or other issues. Actionable tips are highlighted in bold:
Avoid getting trapped at the airport
As bad as it is to find out that your flight has been long delayed or, worse, cancelled, it is better to find out from the comfort of your own home or a hotel room and make new arrangements from there.
“Check your flight status before heading to the airport. Most of these notifications aren’t last minute,” said Scott Keyes, founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights. “Save yourself the trip to the airport.”
ALSO SEE: Airlines Issue Travel Waivers Ahead of Massive Wintry Weather ‘Bombing Cyclone’
Keyes told CNN Travel in an interview that you should Sign up for free airline SMS alerts about the status of the flights when you buy your ticket. You should also download your carrier’s app.
You can also type your airline and flight number directly into a Google search bar to get the status that way. This is also handy for friends or family to pick you up.
Keyes also suggested Check the FlightAware website to follow major flight trends across the country.
If you are already at the airport
Sometimes the delays and cancellations happen after you arrive at the airport. What should you do after the bad news is broken?
said Keyes Go to the airline agent counter as soon as possible — and prepare to multitask while waiting in line.
Fast is a keyword here. “It will make a difference who comes first. First come first serve. Positioning yourself close to your desk can pay off,” Keyes said.
Then you might want to Call your carrier while you wait. Depending on your place in line, It might be quicker to reach a call center. “Whatever comes first, great,” he said.
Calls to US domestic numbers can experience very long waits. key suggested Instead, try an international call center for your wireless service provider.
“Most US travelers don’t think to call the Canada hotline for Delta. You may reach an employee much faster. You can edit all your reservations at the same time.”
You can also Use a self-service kiosk, says American Airlines. “Scan your boarding pass or enter your record finder to view your updated trip details. From there you can also change your flight and print out your new boarding passes.”
Attitude and research are important
Whether you’re dealing with an agent in person or over the phone, your approach can make a big difference. That starts with the attitude.
“Honey attracts more flies than vinegar,” Keyes said. “Look at this from the perspective of the airline agents. They really have been dealing with angry customers since the beginning of the pandemic. The agent is the one who can best help you.
“Ask nicely and sympathetically You’re far more likely to get what you want than to be an idiot.”
He had another tip when it’s your turn to speak to an agent about new arrangements: “Prepare to offer your own options now. Doing your own research is absolutely helpful.”
Your agent can speed things up if you’ve already been researching new routes and possible suggestions while you’re waiting. Be willing to explain what you want.
If you booked through Expedia or another third-party website, you’ll need to deal with this if you cancel.
If the price is the same, Keyes suggested you Book direct with the airline. In case something goes wrong, “it gets a lot more complicated with multiple policies” if you booked through a third party.
US PIRG, a consumer advocacy group, suggests you If possible, avoid stops when booking. The more times you stop, the greater the chance that something will go wrong.
The group also echoes Keyes’ advice Be nice and polite to agents but also says that consumers should Be persistent and try to resolve the situation satisfactorily.
Help from other airlines
Cooperation between airlines could work in your favour.
“When flights are cancelled, many airlines have the option Put you on another airline’s flight because they have interline agreements,” Lousson Smith, product operations specialist at Scott’s Cheap Flights, told CNN Travel in June 2022.
“That means, for example, if Delta has service disruptions but American is operating a flight to your destination, you may be able to board that flight.”
“If you decide not to take a later flight and book a new ticket out of pocket, you’re entitled to a cash refund, although that may not get you where you need to go,” Smith said. “As we all know, last minute flights are very expensive.”
Caught for the night
What to do when it looks like you won’t be able to depart until the next day and you’re not in your hometown?
“Ask the airline to put you up in a hotel or give you a hotel voucher. You could do it; she might not. It’s not required by law,” Keyes said.
They’re less likely to do so when it’s weather-related, he said, than when the problem is a mechanical problem with the plane or staffing issues.
What you may receive depends on the airline itself and the specific circumstances as to why a flight was cancelled.
get to know politics. For example, Delta Air Lines says it will issue a hotel credit under certain circumstances if travel is disrupted more than four hours after the scheduled departure time if the delay is between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m
Whatever you do, at least ask, Keyes said. A voucher for hotels and even ground transportation and meals will probably not only be offered.
In some cases, airlines will provide you with accommodations, Smith said, but this is on a case-by-case basis and is never guaranteed.
Your credit card could also be your friend in this situation.
“That’s the good news Many credit cards offer travel protection B. Reimbursement if a flight cancellation forces you to book a hotel, meals, etc.,” Smith said. “This travel protection is usually automatically included as long as you have used the card to pay for your flight. Google your credit card plus travel protection to see what specific offers your card offers.”
If your flight is delayed instead of being canceled entirely, You may want to weigh up whether to wait at the airport. Depending on your personal circumstances, it may be easier to hunker down there for five or six hours than walking to and from a hotel. Additionally, Keyes said: Check if there is a hotel inside the airport.
The Points Guy recommends going to an airport lounge if possible, where you can charge your phone and rest more easily.
Travel insurance and receipts
Consider purchasing travel insuranceinforms CNN Travel via email about Airport Parking Reservations.
It states: “Most travel insurance policies offer additional coverage for travel uncertainties. Additionally [coverage] generally applicable if your flight is delayed by more than 12 hours due to a strike, adverse weather or mechanical breakdown.
The website will also point this out to you Keep all receipts from airport purchases. You can later try to get the money back from the airline.
But stick to the basics. “However, airlines only pay for ‘reasonable’ expenses, so you probably won’t get any money back for purchases like alcohol, expensive meals or extravagant hotels.”
Claims for reimbursement for your flight
This is announced by the US Department of Transportation You are entitled to a refund of your ticket costs due to a cancellation or “significant delay” and you decide not to travel.
This is the policy regardless of the reason the airline cancels or delays the flight. However, what constitutes a “significant delay” remains open to interpretation.
According to the DOT website, “It did not specifically define what constitutes ‘significant delay.’ Whether you are eligible for a refund depends on many factors – including the length of the delay, the length of the flight and your particular circumstances. DOT will determine whether you are eligible for a refund after a significant delay on a case-by-case basis. case base.”
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