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10 tips for handling flight delays

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10 Approaches To Dealing With Flight Delays – According to Murphy’s Law, ‘Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.’ This is very true when it comes to air travel, even when the planning and booking process for the trip has been seamless. Lengthy travel delays and cancellations are a frustrating part of air travel and they are to be expected whether travelling domestically or internationally. Travellers that are not prepared to handle possible lengthy delays or cancellations face unneeded stress which may cause loss of composure and possibly an unhealthy dose of sky-high blood pressure.

Delays can be caused by any number of reasons; from airline seat overbooking, inclement weather and mechanical problems, to airport security issues, striking airport personnel, federal regulations, travel restrictions and even you (yes, you) checking in late. While people can do a great job planning their travel, most do not prepare for possible and lengthy flight delays or cancellations.

If your flight is cancelled or you are bumped from the flight, the airline must provide you with a seat on the next available flight or compensation depending on the length of the delay. If you do not like the new rebooked flight, you have the right to ask for a different flight.

Emirates airlines photo from wiki commons

10 tips for handling flight delays

1) Add Travel Disruption insurance to your trip/vacation or get a credit card that provides this benefit for protection. Airlines may not cover disruptions due to weather, strikes and civil unrest (these are deemed as outside of the airline’s control). Travel Insurance covers accommodations, food, luggage, clothing, other transportation when the airline will not cover them, and of course, provide peace-of-mind. Read the small print in both the travel insurance and the airline policy to understand what is included or if your policy prevents you from claiming from the airline at a later date.

2) Airlines do provide compensation if you are bumped from a flight. Do not stress, keep your cool and don’t cause a scene – there is not much you can do to change things! Airlines now have good compensation packages for bumped passengers. Do not accept what is first offered or sign any document, rather hold out and negotiate a better package. Ask about meal and hotel vouchers if warranted. The rules governing airline compensation and responsibilities due to lengthy delays and cancellations vary from country to country. Canada’s (CTA) just put new rules and regulations into effect to better protect passengers.

Relax and browse the unique shopping areas if you have time to kill due to a flight delay. You can find designer stores like this one at Toronto’s Pearson Airport.

3) Take the extra time to enjoy the amenities at the airport during lengthy delays. Most of the large airports are also built to keep travellers entertained, with everything from exclusive and branded restaurants to unique shopping areas, exotic spas, workout areas and relaxing lounges! Take the bonus time to explore these areas.

4) Pack a few basic essentials in a carry-on bag in order to freshen up. Two of the most basic items should be deodorant and mouth/breath freshener in the form of chewing gum or spray. This will help you keep fresh regardless of the circumstances.

5) Keep your eyes open and ears alert. Listen to announcements and regularly check for updates on the departure monitors listing flight times and gate numbers. Why? Airlines may be assigned a new departure gate that could be located in a new section of the airport and quite a distance away from the initial gate. You do not want a length delay to turn into a missed flight.

6) Re-book a different flight or airline if you really need to get to a destination due to a cancellation that is not caused by weather, strike or civil unrest. Call the airline’s customer service line, they can make the change faster than waiting to speak with the gate agents on duty who are dealing with the barrage of angry travellers. Should you have booked through an online service, make sure the service provides live customer service representatives that can be called and let them rebook or re-route you.

7) Utilise social media should you have difficulty with an airline’s customer service. Many times these public platforms are a great way to get an airline’s attention if you feel you have been treated unfairly. Make sure you are not rude, do not use an abusive tone or are stretching the truth and you will get the attention from the airline in question…they really do check social media posts.

8) Be in the know and be prepared by downloading the airline’s mobile app and sign up for their email or text alerts regarding your flight so there will be no surprises at the airport.

9) Hold on to your travel documents and any receipt of expenses you have incurred due to the delay or cancellation. Airlines may not honour legitimate claims without the original receipts/documents.

Enjoying a pre-flight coffee during a flight delay at Charles de Gualle Airport, Paris

10) Grab a snack, a book or your electronic device and find yourself a comfortable area and catch-up on your reading, music or video watching until the delay is over…what else can you do but be comfortable until the delay is over.

Travellers need to understand that there is not much that can be done when a lengthy delay or cancellation occurs. Many make the situation worse by rushing to the gate agent(s) to complain, yell and convey aggravation which accomplishes very little other than making a difficult situation even worse. Have a plan that is ready to go should the inevitable happen. What Murphy’s Law really tells us is quite simple, be prepared!

Frank Greco is a world traveller and television producer of “The Travel Guy, Gourmet Escapes,” other lifestyle programs and documentaries. Follow Frank on Instagram (thetravelguy1 and travelwithmeandde) or become friends on Facebook (www.facebook.com/frank.greco.338)

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