What to do if your flight is delayed or cancelled

by Alice

Nobody likes to be delayed. In fact, most people hate it. Perhaps one of the worst things about being delayed or having your flight cancelled, apart from the mind-numbingly boring task of waiting in an airport for information about whichever airline you’re dealing with, is just how unpredictable delays and cancellations can be. One minute you’re returning from a two-week relaxing holiday in Bali, the next you’re facing ten stressful hours of eternity in an airport terminal. But just because you’re delayed doesn’t mean you’re stranded, and there are a number of options available to you. Here’s what you can do if your flight is delayed or cancelled.

1. Take the next flight

If you’re facing a long delay or cancellation, you may be able to take the next flight out, even if it’s with a different airline. Talk to your airline’s customer service department and see if they can’t put you on the next flight out. It may be in the airline’s interest to pay for a quicker, easier route to your destination. If they can’t, they’ll probably be able to give you some sort of compensation for your delay.


2. Claiming compensation

If your delay or cancellation is long enough and egregious enough, you may be entitled to compensation. It’s not something that everyone is aware of, but airlines, even budget airlines, are bound by law to compensate you financially for the delay as part of the passenger rights that everyone enjoys. However, this compensation varies depending on where you are based and generally only applies to flights departing from or arriving at a European airport. The amount of compensation you receive also depends on the length of the delay and the length of the journey you’ve missed.


3. Staying in a hotel

Once you’ve claimed compensation and organised a new flight to wherever you’re going, why not enjoy a night in a hotel – again, at the airline’s expense? If your delay is long enough, most airlines will put you up in a hotel for the night. It’s usually a hotel near the airport and won’t be the most luxurious, but hey, a free hotel is a free hotel. You’ll be transported to and from the hotel, and provided with meals and any other amenities weary travellers need until your flight the next day.


4. Take a day trip

If you happen to be in an interesting town or city that’s not too far from the airport, why not take advantage of a bad situation and go for a day (or night) trip? It might be worth turning your delay into a mini-holiday. Even if it’s just to have dinner in a new part of town you’ve never been to before, getting out and about is always better than waiting in an airport. If you’ve got a little time – a whole day’s worth – it might even be worth doing a little stopover tour.

5. Grab some free food

Delayed and hungry? Pick a restaurant of your choice and eat, courtesy of the airline responsible for your delay or missed flight. You’ll have to pay for it yourself, keep the receipts and email copies to the airline’s customer service department later, but rest assured you’ll be fully reimbursed. Alternatively, speak to customer service at the airport and they’ll probably give you some airport vouchers that can be used in restaurants throughout the airport. Either way, don’t go hungry just because your flight is delayed.

6. Get some work done

If you’re someone who works remotely and happen to have your laptop with you, take the opportunity to turn that dead time into something productive. Almost all modern airports have fairly reliable free WiFi, as well as power points to keep your devices charged. Even if you can’t finish that book or close those big deals, at least take the time to answer a few emails to save yourself some time when you get to your destination.

7. Check your travel insurance

You have travel insurance, right? We hope so, because there are a number of benefits to being insured. One of the most important is that you’re covered for delayed or cancelled flights, so if you’re delayed outside of Europe, you’re still entitled to compensation. You should contact your insurance company as soon as possible to let them know you’ve been delayed and keep all the necessary documents, such as your boarding pass, as you may need them later to make a claim.

8. Treat yourself

Instead of getting frustrated and stressed, treat yourself to something soothing and luxurious. Many airports have a number of spas, massage parlours and luxury lounges. If you’ve got the money (and certainly the time), consider killing a few hours in the lap of luxury. If massages and saunas are a little out of your price range, a pint or two at the bar is almost certainly within reach. Grab a cold one, you’ve earned it.



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