FareCompare readers know there is nothing like a flight cancellation to throw your plans into disarray. Sometimes, flights are cancelled for reasons the airline has control over, such as equipment malfunctions. Other times, weather causes cancellations. And this distinction is important: just whose fault the cancellation is (the airline vs. Mother Nature) can determine your rights as a passenger.
- Get in line at the gate desk, but dial the airline customer service number at the same time. This way, you can work with whomever you reach first.
- Use airport Wi-Fi to try to re-book your ticket online. You should be able to print your new boarding passes at an airport kiosk. Delta has an iPhone app for re-booking SkyMiles members.
- Sign into Twitter and tweet about your situation, or have someone else in your travel party (or someone back home) do so. Some airlines (Southwest, Delta and JetBlue, for example) monitor Twitter for customer service problems and may respond quickly.
- Ensure your checked bags will find you. Airlines must try to get your luggage to you within 24 hours of your arrival.
- Know your rights: For domestic flights, airlines in the U.S. are not obligated to compensate you for cancelled flights. Rule 240 states that airlines dealing with non-weather related cancellations or delays must put passengers on the next available flight – either theirs or a competing airline’s. If weather is the culprit, the airline must still get you on the next available flight, but they are not obligated to put you on another airline. In short, if their next flight to your destination is not for another 24 hours, then that is likely going to be your flight.
Airline Cancellation Policies
The following table contains a brief statement about airline policies for flights cancelled for controllable or non-controllable reasons, along with toll-free customer service numbers. Right now, add these airline phone numbers to your phone contacts so you do not waste time looking them up later.
|Airline||Customer Service Number||Cancellation Policy|
|AirTran||800-247-8726 or 678-254-7999||AirTran will not provide or reimburse passengers for expenses incurred because of delays or cancellations.|
|Alaska Airlines||800-252-7522||If your flight is delayed or cancelled and you are holding separate tickets for another airline, Alaska Air will contact the carrier on your behalf for your onward travel arrangements.|
|American Airlines||800-433-7300||If the delay or cancellation is caused by something within the airline’s control, which prevents you from getting to your final destination as expected, American will provide accommodations.|
|Delta||888-750-3284||If the delay exceeds four hours, Delta will provide meals. If the delay exceeds four hours between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., Delta will pay for a hotel and ground transportation.|
|Frontier||800-432-1359||If on the day of travel there are no other options and you have to spend the night in a connection city, Frontier will try to arrange and provide hotel accommodation and meal vouchers to offset the expense.|
|JetBlue||800-538-2583||If JetBlue cancels a flight within four hours of scheduled departure and the cancellation is because of a controllable irregularity, JetBlue also will provide the customer with a $50 Credit good for future travel on JetBlue.|
|Southwest||800-435-9792||Southwest will not provide or reimburse passengers for expenses incurred because of delays or cancellations.|
|US Airways||800-428-4322||If a flight is cancelled or causes a missed connection that was within the airline’s control, creating an overnight stay, US Airways will provide a hotel room, meal vouchers and ground transportation. Passengers without baggage can provide a receipt for reimbursement of any reasonable incidentals, such as toiletries.|
|United Airlines||800-864-8331||The airline will provide a hotel room, meal voucher and transportation to the hotel if there is no shuttle service in the event that circumstances within United’s control require an unplanned hotel stay. The airline will provide information for booking hotel rooms at discounted rates (at your expense) in the event that circumstances outside of United’s control cause an unplanned hotel stay.|
|VirginAmerica||877-359-8474||VirginAmerica will not provide or reimburse passengers for expenses incurred because of delays or cancellations.|