5 Tips for Flight Delays: How to Get on the Next Flight

Flight Delays and Cancellations

It happens to all of us; one moment, your trip is going smoothly and then suddenly, you’re stuck in the airport as a howling storm grounds your flight.

And such flight delays can occur any time of year. So now what do you do?

Fewer Seats for Stranded Travelers

FareCompare CEO Rick Seaney knows it’s important to be first in line to get that next flight because in recent years, airlines have been drastically cutting capacity (seats). That means, when stranded passengers must be accommodated, there are a lot fewer empty seats to put them in so the wait for the “next available flight” may be hours or even days away. Don’t let this happen to you.

Five Tips to Get on the Next Plane during Flight Delays, Cancellations

Follow as many of these tips as possible; if you fly frequently and don’t yet have a smart phone, you might want to consider upgrading.

1. Multi-task your airline contacts

First, be alert to any PA announcements, emails or tweets about changes involving your flight; the moment you determine there’s a problem, get in line to speak to an airline representative and get on the phone and call them. Speed is of the essence, so work all your contacts.

2. Look for alternate routes

This is where a smart phone comes in handy; use it to look up alternate routes to suggest to your airline contact. Note: Do not be afraid to fly out-of-your way to a big hub airport; your objective is to get away from the messy weather you’re in so you can grab a flight home and a big hub usually offers the most flight options.

3. Join a miles program

Even if you don’t make elite status as a frequent flyer, this may give you a leg up over non-member flyers in terms of your place in line to get an available seat; if you are an “elite” use your status (and use that special hotline number dedicated to elites as well).

4. Don’t be late to the gate

Windows of good weather can come and go; don’t miss a departure because a gate agent told you “it would probably be awhile” before takeoff. Stay in your gate area or at least stay within hearing distance of any announcements.

5. Keep your cool

This may seem obvious, but plenty of flyers ignore this one. Ask yourself this question: who would you rather help, a polite passenger or someone shouting at you?

Another Reason to Use a Carryon Bag

Packing one carryon bag will save you fifty bucks in checked-baggage fees on most airlines; it will also save you time and trouble in the event of delays or cancellations. If you’re told there’s a spot for you on a plane departing in minutes, wouldn’t it be nice to know your bag will make the journey with you?

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Published: February 6, 2012