12 Things To Do When Your Flight Gets Canceled

Flight cancellations can significantly disrupt travel plans, leading to hassle and stress for passengers. Knowing your rights and the steps to minimize the impact on your travel plans is essential when faced with a canceled flight.

Taking some reference from the official website of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) about Airline Customer Services, we’ve compiled a list of things you can do when your flight gets canceled. These are some of the most applicable steps as per the US airline policies that one should take when their flight gets canceled.

Check Your Flight Status

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Checking your flight status as soon as possible is crucial because flight cancellations are quite common. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, in January 2024, around 3.8% of their scheduled domestic flights in the US were canceled, affecting millions of travelers. By confirming the cancellation through the airline’s website or mobile app, you can quickly verify your flight’s status and avoid unnecessary waiting at the airport.

Contact The Airline

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When your flight is canceled, it is important to contact the airline immediately to understand your options for rebooking or refunds. You can contact the airline’s customer service through various channels, such as their official website, phone lines, or social media.

For instance, American Airlines can be contacted via their customer service page here, Delta Airlines offers support through their contact page, and United Airlines has a customer service link.

Know Your Rights

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Understanding your rights as a passenger is crucial when your flight gets canceled. According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), you are fully entitled for a refund if the flight is canceled and you choose not to travel.

Additionally, if the cancellation causes a significant delay, you may be entitled to compensation depending on the airline’s policies and the reason for the cancellation. You can learn more about your rights by visiting the DOT’s official website for consumer rights.

Request for a Rebooking

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When your flight gets canceled, requesting a rebooking is often the quickest way to get back on track. However, as per the US Airlines policies, there is no official guarantee that you will get a rebooking immediately.

It might take some time and careful consideration to make it possible. When speaking with the airline’s customer service, clearly explain your preferred travel times and any constraints you may have. In many cases, airlines prioritize rebooking on their next available flight or partner airlines.

Seek Compensation

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When your flight is canceled, you might be eligible for compensation depending on the circumstances. Compensation can include cash payments, travel vouchers, or additional services.

It’s important to ask the airline what they offer in such situations and keep records of all communications and expenses. Reuters reported recently that Southwest Airlines launched a compensation program that provides $90 million in travel vouchers of $75 or more to passengers facing flight delays or cancellations.

Try Alternative Airports

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Considering alternative airports can significantly improve your chances of rebooking a flight quickly. For example, if your flight from JFK International Airport in New York is canceled, checking for flights from nearby LaGuardia or Newark airports might provide quicker alternatives. Major metropolitan areas often have multiple airports, which can increase your options. Using alternate airports can help you avoid extended delays and reach your destination faster.

Look for Accommodations

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If your flight gets canceled and you need to stay overnight, ask the airline if they can provide accommodation. Many airlines offer hotel vouchers when cancellations are due to reasons within their control, such as mechanical issues.

For example, Delta Airlines may offer hotel room accommodation if the cancellation causes more than 3-hour delay. Always check the airline’s policy, as some airlines only provide accommodation for cancellations within their control.

Claim Food Vouchers

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When your flight gets canceled, airlines often provide meal vouchers to help cover the cost of food while you wait for the next available flight. These vouchers can be used at airport restaurants or cafes.

For example, if your Delta flight is canceled and causes you to wait for more than 3 hours, the airline might provide you with a voucher for a meal at a terminal restaurant. Always ask the airline representative about meal vouchers, as they may not automatically offer them.

Use Lounge Access

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Using lounge access can significantly improve your experience during a flight cancellation. Airline lounges provide comfortable seating, complimentary snacks and beverages, Wi-Fi, and more.

If you hold a premium ticket (business or first class), or are a member of the airline’s frequent flier program with elite status, you will have automatic lounge access. If your flight is canceled, relaxing in a lounge can make the wait more bearable and provide a quieter environment to contact customer service or make alternative travel arrangements.

Keep Receipts

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When your flight is canceled, you might have to spend money on meals, transportation, or a hotel stay. It’s important to keep all the receipts for these expenses. Having receipts will help you when you request reimbursement from the airline or your travel insurance provider. Clearly documented expenses make it easier to prove what you spent and ensure you get the correct compensation.

Stay Informed

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Staying informed is crucial when your flight is canceled. Regularly check the airline’s website or app for updates on your new flight details, or contact customer service for updates. Use flight tracking apps to monitor changes in real time. Keeping an eye on your email and text notifications from the airline ensures you receive any important updates immediately.

Stay Calm and Polite

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Staying calm and polite during a flight cancellation can significantly improve your chances of receiving help from airline staff. Airline representatives often deal with numerous frustrated travelers during disruptions, so a polite demeanor can make you stand out positively. This approach not only fosters a more cooperative interaction but also aligns with customer service principles, increasing the likelihood of finding a satisfactory resolution to your travel issues.

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