Right Way and Wrong Way to Handle a Delayed or Canceled Flight

Another winter storm is heading to the East coast and airlines are proactively canceling thousands of flights. Some good (and bad) advice, below.

The Right Way

If your flight is delayed and canceled, the first thing to do is read this:

This short article includes links to travel alerts for several airlines. What follows is a compilation of the best tips:

Contact your airline immediately: If at the airport, get in line and get on the phone. Consider tweeting about your situation as well. The goal is to get in touch by the quickest means possible, so you are best-positioned to get on the next available plane.

Be sure your airline can reach you: If you did not add your email/phone contact information when you made your reservations, do it now.

If a trip can wait: Take advantage of the airline’s offer to waive the expensive change fee and reschedule your trip to a better time.

If a trip can’t wait: Be your own travel agent or get a tech-savvy member of the family to help you find a way out. In some cases, it could make sense to fly to a hub city outside the storm zone – even if that’s not your final destination – because you may have a better shot of reaching your destination from a different airport.

Outside the storm path? Don’t relax: Delays and cancelations can have a ripple effect; planes flying out of Los Angeles are sometimes affected by problems in New York. So do not assume you’re necessarily in the clear if you’ll be traveling to or from a good-weather airport. Be sure to pack a lunch, as well as something to amuse yourself with (plus chargers for electronic devices). You could be in for a wait.

The Wrong Way

Travelers on a Ryanair flight from Morocco to Paris that ran into a delay reportedly decided to take matters into their own hands during an unexpected layover; the frustrated travelers allegedly stole food and drinks from the beverage cart and generally intimidated the crew. Here’s where packing your own lunch would come in handy.


Published: January 21, 2014