Flight delay and flight cancellations are every travellers dreaded thoughts. It happens even in the best airports in the world, and knowing what to do about it is another very difficult decision, especially when majority of the time it is not 100% clear what your rights are. To help, here is some advice on what to do if your flight is delayed or cancelled.
If you are travelling from a European airport or to a European airport on an EU airline and your flight is cancelled, the airline must offer you a full refund or rebook you on the next flight (subject to the airline’s rebooking policy).
If you booked your flights independently, not as a package holiday, and you accept the refund the airline are no longer entitled to take care of you.
If the flight is booked as a packaged holiday, the ATOL scheme and the operator you booked through will be able to assist. If it is the outward flight, you will receive a full refund of your entire holiday. If the return flight is cancelled, the operator will take care of any extra funding for you – each tour operators have different policies so be sure to talk to them. If it is an airline cancellation, you are entitled to be put on the next flight free of charge.
If you are not travelling from a European airport, to a European airport on an EU airline, you will need to contact your airline.
Immediate Things to Do
Here are a few things you should do if flight has been cancelled or delayed –
- If it’s late enough and heavy delays and cancellations due to weather, system or anything where flights aren’t expected to go out until the next day, get a hotel room. You might as well be comfortable while waiting.
- Get in line to talk to the airline, and get on the phone to them. They will probably pick up the phone before you get to the line and offer you advice.
- When you get to the front of the line, if your flight has been cancelled try and get an answer or flight re-booked before moving. We imagine a lot of other angry flyers will be there too, so be kind but stern and ask question after question.
- Use TripIt to help find alternative flights – this is excellent if you don’t want to miss a connecting flight.
- When you finally get to your destination, get compensation!
If the airline does not give you what you are entitled to, report your issue to the Civil Aviation Authority and they can do whatever they can to assist.
When can you get compensation?
There are lots of different regulations on when you can get compensation for flight delays.. Click here for an excellent post explaining the ins and outs.
Some flight delays and cancellations can’t be helped, and sometimes you can feel hopeless. The airlines will do what they can do to assist, so be sure to contact them first (or your tour operator).