What To Do When Your Flight Is Canceled Or Delayed

You have planned your trip and have everything set to start your next adventure or relaxing holiday. Then, once you get to the airport, you take a look at the departures board and see your flight is canceled.

What can you do now?! Is your trip ruined?

It doesn’t have to be, and there are many ways to solve this situation. Flight delays and cancellations happen often, so it’s best you know your options to pick the best course of action based on your situation. 

How you deal with a flight delay or cancellation varies on a case-by-case basis as it depends on the airline you’re flying with, where you’re flying from/to, and your fare class.

Below are a few of the best options to deal with flight delays and cancellations.

  1. Understand your passenger’s rights

While all scheduled airlines have the same passenger rights established by government regulation, in the US, no regulation or federal law specifies what rights, if any, you have when an airline cancels your flight.

When it comes to cancellations, your rights are based solely on the airlines’ contracts of carriage and the relevant principles of general contract law. In other words, they vary from airline to airline.

Several airline contracts are designed not to guarantee schedules and not be responsible for consequential damage. In other words, they are not responsible for any loss you might incur if you arrive late at your destination or don’t arrive at all.

When it comes to routine cancellations, you have two fundamental contractual rights on any airline. All airlines should offer you a seat on their next available flight, or provide a refund for the unused portion of your ticket. 

The details vary per contract, so some airlines might try their best to ease the inconvenience and keep you as a happy customer, while others will do the absolute minimum required per such contract.

  1. Understand Your Potential Flight Cancellation Compensation

It’s essential to understand the cause of your flight cancellation. Typically, when the cancellation is caused by inclement weather or an “act of God,” the airline offers the bare minimum, like credit with the airline, a refund (if applicable), or a seat on the next flight. 

But, when your flight cancellation is caused by a technical failure or something within the airline’s control, they might offer additional assistance and compensation.

What many airlines don’t mention is that you might also be entitled to flight cancellation compensation, as well as additional services and benefits at the airport – if such cancellation happened right before the scheduled departure.

  1. Ask for a refund

In addition to the potential compensation (if it applies), you could also ask for a refund. 

Typically, when an airline cancels your flight, you’re entitled to a full reimbursement of the remaining value of your airfare. The refund should be given in the same form as the ticket purchase – credit to your credit card or bank account, or cash.

Unless you’re open to it, you shouldn’t accept credit with the airline if they cancel your flight for reasons under their control.