Flight Canceled or Delayed? Here’s What to Do

The holiday season is a time when millions of people travel. But whether you are going to be airborne in the next couple of weeks or at another time of the year, flight cancellation is a risk you bear.

What do airlines owe travelers when they cancel a flight? Not a whole lot. But they will try to book you on the next available flight at no extra cost. That’s the case whether you’re stranded midway through your trip or are about to embark.

Some federal rules do apply. The U.S. Department of Transportation explains:

“If your flight is canceled or diverted or experiences a lengthy delay, and you choose to cancel your trip as a result, you are entitled to a refund for the unused transportation — even for nonrefundable tickets — and for any bag fee that you paid.”

Each airline has a policy on cancellations. Contact your airline to learn the policy. But here are seven more tips for coping with cancellations:

Buy tickets from a travel agent

You’ll pay a small fee, perhaps $20 or $30. But a good agent watches your itinerary and, if your connection is canceled, re-books you on another flight while you’re in the air.

You can waltz off the plane and onto your next flight while your fellow passengers scramble to find new accommodations.

Consider trip insurance

This can be a worthwhile investment, but be realistic about the coverage.

For example, airlines likely will only honor this coverage when you cancel for a covered reason, such as a medical emergency or the death of a family member.

Get early warnings

Download your airline’s app onto your phone and sign up for flight alerts. Be sure the airline has your phone number and email address.

The sooner you learn of trouble, the faster you can act.

Get re-booked

Line up at the customer service counter and, at the same time, call the airline’s toll-free number. Try getting re-booked to fly out on your current airline or another.

If you find a flight on another airline, ask your first carrier to endorse your ticket to the new airline.

Stay open to alternatives

When re-booking, try other airports or other cities near your destination. Try Amtrak, buses and even car rentals. (Before renting a car, ask about drop fees and mileage charges for one-way trips.)

Try to stay gracious

When asking overwhelmed airline personnel for help, remember that they didn’t cause the problem. Try to be gracious, if for no other reason than it’ll get you further.

Do you have a flight cancellation story or tips to share? Tell us in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

How to find cheaper car insurance in minutes

Getting a better deal on car insurance doesn't have to be hard. You can have The Zebra, an insurance comparison site compare quotes in just a few minutes and find you the best rates. Consumers save an average of $368 per year, according to the site, so if you're ready to secure your new rate, get started now.

This Online Bank Rated Best for Second Year in a Row
This Online Bank Rated Best for Second Year in a Row

This bank pays interest without charging monthly fees, but there’s a downside.

Secret Ways to Save on Netflix
Secret Ways to Save on Netflix

These little-known savings tactics can help whittle down what you pay for your streaming video subscription — every month.

9 Affordable Products That Could Save Your Life
9 Affordable Products That Could Save Your Life

Some of these products you may already own. Others you’ll want to order from Amazon ASAP.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.