If you’re a frequent flyer it’s likely you’ll have faced a delay at some stage and an inevitably impromptu lay-over at an airport. And quite frankly, it’s not surprising; flight delays are something that we’re all going to have to get used to, as it looks like they’ll only increase in the years to come. The reason? Because we seem to be going through an era of unpredictable climate. Our travel plans are likely to be messed around by weather more and more often. However, it’s not all doom and gloom because if you’re smart you should anticipate the unexpected – or at least the undesirable – and plan accordingly. Here are some top tips in case of a flight delay…
Major airlines’ websites allow you to sign up for information about trip changes (via texts, emails or app notifications), so set up flight alerts before leaving for the airport. Having said that, third-party apps have a habit of relaying that information faster than the airlines, so you might consider downloading one of those instead – or one of them as well your airline’s app. At the very least, you could just google your flight number to find out its status.
What can you get out of your airline?
If your flight’s cancelled, it’s possible you’ll get a discount from your airline for a nearby hotel for the night – but there’s no guarantee of that. So it’s as well to become familiar with your airline’s ‘contract/ conditions of carriage’; usually your airline’s code of practice will be to book you on the next flight with available seats or refund you for the unused portion of your flight.
That said, in the European Union (EU), the rights for air passengers are better; that’s to say, you’re often entitled to more when things go askew than in other parts of the world. Still, don’t expect to be compensated for bad weather even in Europe.
The decision you’re likely to have to face is whether to be re-booked or refunded. How much money are you going to get in return for the part of your trip that’s been cancelled? Is there another flight leaving soon that you can hop on? These are questions to ask yourself before making the decision.Of course, you could take the refund and find a cheaper one-way flight with another airline. Don’t forget too that if you’re queuing up at the airport desk waiting to be re-booked, you could also call the airline while in line – you’ll probably get hold of someone faster that way.
What are your rights?
It’s far from a bad idea to familiarize yourself with your rights as an air passenger – specific to the part of the world you’re in or travelling to. For instance, in the United States, according to the Department of Transportation, airlines must provide passengers waiting on-board planes with food, water and toilet access within two hours of a flight being delayed. Moreover, if you’re on the tarmac and your domestic flight’s delayed longer than three hours then you must be given opportunity to leave the plane. See, when it comes to preparing for flight delays, such info can be very handy.
Keep your apps
Hotel and booking company apps are hugely useful; especially for last minute bookings. So if you’re facing the nightmare of a delay, then keeping one or more of such apps on your phone before you set off on is highly advised should you need to make an eleventh-hour booking.Although, if you’re going to do thus then you need thoroughly correct information; there’s always the chance that the inventory on a booking site isn’t exactly up to date, so it’s a good idea to phone the hotel to check what’s definitely available – so if you’re looking to stay somewhere near an airport or deciding to stay in, say, London longer owing to a flight delay throwing your plans into chaos, keep the numbers of hotels such as the Shaftesbury Suites handy.
Use the departure lounge
Flight delays almost definitely mean you’re going to be spending longer – if not some genuine time – in the airport, so should you not already have it, you might consider buying airport lounge access. Why? Well, if you want to clean yourself up, eat something decent, charge your electronic devices or even get some work done, it’s far easier to do so in the lounge. It’s highly likely a one-time lounge pass will work out cheaper than a one-night stay (or a stay for a few hours) in a nearby hotel room.
There is a chance that should you find yourself stuck somewhere chilly you’ll be dressed for warmer climes and should you be downed somewhere warm you’ll be dressed for cooler temperatures. Your best bet then is to dress with – or at least take with you – more layers than you might need, as you can always take them off if you need to, or alternatively put them on when the need arises.
Keep your essentials with you
Be smart when it comes to your carry-on luggage. If you’re stranded in a random airport and need to get work done then make sure you have the tools so you can work remotely (e.g. a laptop, chargers and documents). Think about personal items you’ll need as well, such as prescription medication, cash and clothing essentials – underwear and socks. Plus, if you don’t need to work, you’ll probably need one or things to help occupy your time; that is, ‘comfort items’ – noise-cancelling headphones, an iPad or, if you’re old-school, a book or magazines.