If you’re a frequent flyer, you’ll know that making it through to the other side without some sort of delay would be a dream; cancellations, strikes, technical issues are among countless reasons that flights may face disruptions.
If you’re one of the lucky ones you might just have to hold out for a couple of hours (and hopefully you’ll get a couple of free beverages from the airline) and at the very least you’ll be surrounded by plentiful shops and duty-free to keep the boredom at bay.
For the less lucky passengers delays can take much, much longer, sometimes flights even being outright cancelled. Although this part of your journey is out of your control, there are a few things you should know to make the worst case scenario at least bearable and may even help with any compensation you might receive.
Take a look at our tips below, so next time you get in a pickle you know you’ve done all you can.
Before You Leave
Keep up to date on the weather and current events which may affect your journey.
Snow storms and hurricanes have been known to ground flights for days or sometimes weeks at a time, yet you can easily find warnings about them ahead of travel. Similarly, strikes from airport workers are often well publicised.
Book appropriate insurance for likely eventualities.
If you have insurance that covers against strike action, it is usually valid if purchased before the strike dates are announced. Get into a habit of buying insurance directly after booking your flight in order to ensure your insurance will cover you for strikes.
Check your specific flight status.
Although some issues (largely technical ones) will not be known ahead of take off, it always pays to see if all flights are running as scheduled.
Available via operators as well as independent companies, such as FlightAware, allow for quick referencing of flight updates. Flights can also be checked online or by phone.
Pack lightly and be organised.
Having no checked luggage could help you get on a replacement flight quicker. On top of that, store all information, including a contact number for the flight provider, on a handy app such as TripIt to help you beat the rush.
Keep kids in mind.
Make sure you’ve got something to keep them happy should you experience a delay. A few snacks, drinks and toys could save you on overpriced items from airports and a moody little one!
At the Airport
Gather as much information as possible about the delay.
This can be done by calling the airline, which may be quicker than waiting in line to speak to a representative. If you have checked baggage but want to re-book for an earlier flight, find out the airline’s policy on hold luggage, and what options there may be for returning it to you ASAP.
Get in line to rebook your flight, but begin calling your airline immediately.
If you get through to someone on the phone before the helpdesk, you skip ahead of other passengers trying to rebook. Your well-packed documents will definitely come in handy now, you might even be able to get the money back from calls placed to the airline, but be sure to check.
Take to social media as a way to stay updated
Twitter and other social sites do allow some communication with companies (American Airlines is particularly strong on this front), although they’re not the most effective way to get compensation.
Flights to or from EU countries are protected by Denied Boarding Regulations
This is the act that will help compensate you for delays and cancellations. These range from 125 to 600 Euro, depending on the length of the journey and how long a passenger is made to wait. Airlines are well aware of these responsibilities, but be aware that if you don’t complain you stand less of a chance of being reimbursed.
These regulations are not applicable to customers who cannot board flights due to Extraordinary Circumstances. Circumstances which fall into this category include freak weather, strike action, removal of passengers for disorderly behaviour and flights grounded due to war or political reasons.
Loss of Compensation
Handy tip: Compensation becomes unavailable when the re-routing of flights is arranged by the airline up to one hour before the original scheduled take-off time, or two hours after.
If you want a handy reminder of your rights, download the European Commission’s specialised app which can be used for quick reference.
How do I Prevent Loss of Compensation?
What’s the first thing you do when you find out your flight is delayed? Do you need to call your accommodation? Or your airport transfer to let them know you’re delayed? What you’re going to do to pass the time? Probably not, can I claim compensation for this?
This is how a lot of passengers lose out on compensation. But how can you claim compensation on a delayed flight? There are numerous ways to check to see if you can claim compensation.
- Research and contact the airline: you can look into your claim yourself. This involves researching the Denied Boarding Regulations and contacting the airline. Although the airlines can make claims difficult as FlightRight.co.uk found – “7 out of 10 customers report that the airline doesn’t pay their compensation or doesn’t even reply.”. Just remember, Persistence is key.
- DIY claim: did you can also check to see if you can claim compensation before boarding your delayed flight? It’s now possible to check to see if you can claim compensation on a delayed flight the moment you find out. There are many websites which provide an immediate assessment on flight delays. Which you can find easily with a little googling.
- Get a lawyer: if you’re certain that you’re are entitled to compensation then getting a lawyer is a good call. This can be rather costly but less time-consuming and can more effective when getting the airlines attention.
Take It in Your Stride
Keep Your Cool
- If you’ve come to the realisation that a delay or cancellation is inevitable, stay calm. Getting angry and stressed is extremely unhelpful and unless you get a kick out of making airline reps cry, it’s not going to help your situation.
Find a hotel quickly
- If there is a chance many of them will be booked by passengers in the same situation, get there quick. Apps such as Hotel Tonight help find last minute accommodation, usually at a discounted price.
- Handy Tip: Make sure you keep ALL receipts if you want any chance of reimbursement as you’ll need them for insurance claims.
- Handy Tip: Look into alternative transport methods. We search bus, train and plane journeys, which could present you with a new viable route.
Looking for an alternative way to get to your planned destination? Why not check out bus and train transportation?
If you’re experiencing issues relating to train delays or cancellations, check out our guide to consumer rights and compensation here. Additionally, check out our guide to bus delays and cancellations here to ensure you’re fully in the know.