When a flight is delayed or canceled, what are your rights? Knowing is half the battle.
There are several laws handling airline passenger rights when it comes to things such as flight delays, lost luggage, and overbooked flights.
In Europe, EC 261 – also known as EU 261 – regulates flight rights for flights to, from and within Europe, including EU airspace, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, French Guiana and Martinique, Mayotte, Guadeloupe and La Réunion, Saint-Martin, Madeira and the Azores, and the Canary Islands.
For flights within the United States, there’s The Code of Federal Regulations, Title 14, Aeronautics and Space, Part 250, and worldwide there’s the Montreal Convention for flights to and from the 120 countries that have signed it.
The EU flight compensation rules are much more robust than those in the United States, giving passengers more rights, but in both territories, travelers can expect a certain level of compensation and services for inconveniences that occur during air travel.
- Airline Passenger Rights for Delayed Flights or Canceled Flights
- “Why is my flight delayed / cancelled?” – Stay Informed
- Documents to Save/Information to Note
- Re-Booking Your Flight
- Missed Flight Connection
- Hotel, Transport and Meal Vouchers
- Use Mobile Apps
- Check Your Credit Card Benefits
- Are you eligible for flight delay compensation or flight cancellation compensation?
- How to claim flight delay compensation or cancellation compensation
- Your Flight Passenger rights when you’re on an overbooked flight
- Passenger Rights for Lost or Late Arrival Baggage
- Denied Boarding When Flight Is Not Overbooked
- Does Travel Insurance Help?
- What happens if you miss your flight?
- Pin for later
Airline Passenger Rights for Delayed Flights or Canceled Flights
What happens when your flight gets cancelled or is severely delayed? It’s best to learn about your options now, beforehand, so that you don’t forget anything when you’re dealing with the hassle at the airport.
When airline delays and cancellations occur it’s important to stay organized, make sure you understand what’s going on, and be clear about what you want when the alternative options are provided to you.
Let’s go over what to do if your flight is delayed or canceled.
“Why is my flight delayed / cancelled?” – Stay Informed
When a flight is delayed or canceled, immediately ask “Why?”. The answer to this question is important should you file a flight claim later on, as weather-related issues do not typically allow for compensation but mechanical issues do. Make the gate agent give you a clear reason for why the flight was delayed or canceled, and take note of their exact answer.
Documents to Save/Information to Note
Hold on to any boarding documents or receipts you have at the time of cancellation/delay or that you accrue during the cancellation/delay. Should any future pre-paid reservations be lost, keep tally and record of those as well. You may be able to recover some of these costs if you are eligible for a claim.
Additionally, note the exact time the gate opens when you finally reach your final destination. Compensation guidelines for canceled flights in the EU are based on the overall travel delays you experience and compensation for delayed flights is available when the flight is delayed over 3 hours.
Re-Booking Your Flight
Airlines are responsible to help you re-book your flight in the case of cancellations. They will attempt to place you on their next available flight with an open seat. The gate agents will be swamped, but are available for assistance in getting you on the next available flight. Or, you can avoid the hassle and wait time by calling the airline’s customer service to help you find the next flight out.
Customer service representatives can also be contacted quickly via social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, though some airlines are much better at providing quick replies here than others.
Always remember, though: manners will take you much further in your hunt in securing a new flight than rudeness. What’s happening to you is not the customer service representative’s fault.
Additionally, you can ask if the airline can connect you to your final destination using a different airline, reimbursing you for the cost difference. Some airlines may be willing to accommodate this request if it helps free up seats for other waiting passengers.
Many airline carriers also allow customers to use their mobile apps to search for flights and change existing reservations should you notice a delayed flight status early.
In the case of a 5-hour delay or more in the EU, you may also opt to call it off. The airline is required to pay you a flight delay refund along with providing you a return flight to your original departure point.
Missed Flight Connection
What if your delay causes you to miss a future flight connection? Airlines are responsible for assisting you in finding suitable connections if your flight was booked on a single ticket (Point A to Point C via B). However, if you book each of your flights separately (Point A to Point B and then Point B to Point C), the airline has no obligation to help you out for the second leg of your journey.
Note: See the “Travel Insurance” section below for ways to safeguard yourself if you prefer to book your tickets separately.
If all legs of your journey are through the same airline, you may have a little more success in getting help if you happen to have booked tickets separately.
Hotel, Transport and Meal Vouchers
Each airline carrier has a different policy, as defined in the airline’s contract of carriage, in regards to meal, hotel, and transportation vouchers during delays and cancellations. Typically, in the event of weather-related delays, vouchers are not common, but for mechanical delays of over 4 hours, they can be obtained.
In the United States, customers can ask for vouchers to help cover the costs for these unplanned needs, but it is ultimately up to the airline if they will provide these.
In the EU, two free telephone calls or two free telefaxes, fax or email messages can also be utilized. In addition, vouchers are not voluntary in the EU as they are in the United States. Food, hotel, and transport services are all rights you have when cancellations and delays occur, with the airline determining which you qualify for depending on the length of the disruption.
Use Mobile Apps
Ensuring you have the right apps on your phone before you get to the airport can save you huge headaches in the case of a delay or cancellation. Great options include:
- FlightAware: a flight tracking app to stay up to date on your flight’s status at all times.
- EU Passenger Rights: an app that lets you check what your rights are if your flight is delayed or cancelled.
Check Your Credit Card Benefits
If you’ve purchased the airline tickets on a credit card, check to see if it offers additional flight delay and cancellation protection. As long as the delay is due to pre-approved reasons (i.e. weather, mechanical failure, etc), a flight delay claim can be filed with the airline, and you can receive reimbursement for 12 hour or longer delays.
Note: When filing this type of claim, you need to retain your original boarding pass and travel documents.
Are you eligible for flight delay compensation or flight cancellation compensation?
So, you’ve experienced a delay. Are you eligible for any additional flight compensation? Do airlines have to compensate for delayed flights?
Well, it depends.
When flying in the United States, you are not eligible for inconvenience compensation in the event of a delayed or canceled flight, unless you choose not to fly. In that case, you will receive a flight cancellation refund, which is a full refund of your flight ticket.
When flying to and from Europe, or when flying within Europe, the only time you are NOT eligible for some level of inconvenience compensation is if the delay was due to “extraordinary circumstances” or if the airline gave 14 days notice of the cancellation, regardless of the reason for flight cancellation. In all other cases, you’re entitled to the EU flight delay compensation.
The following are considered extraordinary circumstances:
Lightning strikes, medical emergencies, labor strikes, weather conditions, Air Traffic Control restrictions, sudden malfunctioning of the airport radar, acts of sabotage, political unrest, and acts of terrorism.
Up until recently, wildcat (unofficial) airline personnel strikes were considered extraordinary circumstances, but the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg recently ruled that they’re not and what’s even better is that the ruling is retroactive. So any delays or cancellations you’ve suffered because of wildcat (this is key) airline staff strikes, you can now claim for!
In the EU, when cancellations and flight delays result in you arriving to your next destination at least 3 hours later than originally expected, you are eligible for compensation of €250 to €600 depending on your flight length:
- All flights 1500 kilometers or less: €250
- Intra-community flights greater than 1500 kilometers and all other flights between 1500 and 3500 kilometers: €400
- All other flights: €600
Most flights to Europe from the US and Canada will fall into the largest compensation category.
How to claim flight delay compensation or cancellation compensation
Filing delay claims can be a cumbersome process, as airlines are slow in returning messages and sometimes won’t respond at all. I had the worst experience with Iberia when my flight was cancelled after first being delayed for multiple hours.
Iberia requires you to fill out a form on their website that half of the time doesn’t work and then when they get back to you, they do so from a no-reply email address so if you want to get back to them, you need to fill out the whole form again and refer to the email they sent you.
It was hell and I spent many weeks going back and forth with them only to get my flights refunded, while I was also entitled to a compensation.
This is why services such as AirHelp have stepped up to mediate the filing process. These companies will file compensation claims for you and typically charge a commission of, for example, 25% of the case winnings if the case is won.
Yes, that means you’ll get less compensation in the end, but you’ll also save yourself a lot of time and frustration.
Sometimes, they’ll also have a flight delay compensation calculator on their website so you can check if you’re eligible for airline delay compensation or cancellation compensation before “hiring” them.
Should you choose to file a claim on your own, here’s what to do.
How to claim for flight delays by yourself
- Retain all flight information for each passenger you want to file a claim for (flight number, airline, the date and time of the flight, and a flight itinerary)
- Have copies of the applicable laws available for reference (EU regulation 261 for flights to, from and within Europe and The Code of Federal Regulations, Title 14, Aeronautics and Space, Part 250 for flights within the United States)
- Ask a gate agent what the best method for filing a claim with the airline you flew with is. You can also call or write to the airline to indicate you’d like to file a claim, giving them all the information from your flight.
- If there is no response from the airline, file a flight delay complaint or cancellation complaint with regulation services: the Aviation Consumer Protection Division (ACPD) in the US, or if you’re in Europe or the UK, file a complaint with CAA (the Civil Aviation Authority). Each website will have information on how to file a complaint.
- If regulators can’t get a response from the airlines, you can take the case to a small claims court. Make sure you have a strong case that the airline can’t claim “extraordinary circumstances” against. You don’t need to hire a lawyer as long as you have all the applicable documents from your flight and a copy of the law.
To help you put together your case, here’s a flight delay compensation letter template from the CAA for a flight falling under the eu261 compensation rules and this one is from a US law firm.
If you’d rather let a claim company deal with all the hassle, the following ones are an option.
Companies that help you claim airline compensation
Below is a non-exhaustive list of companies that help you claim compensation for delayed and canceled flights. There are more, and most of these companies tend to work the same way.
“My flight from London to Amsterdam was delayed for over four hours. In the beginning, we were told it was the weather (for which you cannot claim), but they also told us that some part of the plane wasn’t working, so they needed to send us a new plane. That had us waiting for another pilot, and for that, you can claim! I was compensated €250 for the delay, but Airhelp took EUR €62.50 in service costs, so I ended up with €187.50. Still pretty good!”
– Nienke Krook from The Travel Tester
“After a flight delay of almost five hours, the Norwegian Air Shuttle staff notified us that our 4 p.m. flight from Oslo to New York City was canceled. The next flight which would leave Oslo at 9 a.m. wouldn’t arrive in New York City until 1 p.m. on Monday. Although Norwegian Air Shuttle comped my hotel room for the night, the entire process was a nightmare. I didn’t get to my hotel room till after midnight and I was exhausted.
A few weeks later, I ran into AirHelp and found out through their site that I was eligible to submit a claim, which I did. My claim was accepted within 13 days and Norwegian had to pay $725.22 in total, of which $138.07 (25.38%) went to AirHelp. Not bad for a flight that I spent less than $300 on for a round-trip, right?!”
– Danielle from The Thought Card
TicketRefund.de (only in German)
“When flying from Mauritius to Germany with Condor, my flight was actually delayed for almost 18 hours! The cause was a technical problem. The passengers were transported to a nearby hotel and we received complimentary food, drinks, and a hotel room and spent the day there, before heading back to the airport around midnight.
A few months later, a friend told me about the German website TicketRefund.de and I gave it a try. I had to submit some information including my flight ticket and afterward, I waited and didn’t hear anything back for a few weeks – until I finally received an email, telling me that the claim was successful and that I would receive around €400 flight compensation. I was super happy, especially since it all worked so easy and I didn’t need to worry about anything.
After submitting your case, you agree to give Ticketrefund.de a commission of up to 30% of your refund if they succeed. In return, the agency takes care of all legal procedures and has liability in case they lose. Therefore, you don’t need to worry about anything and you also don’t need to risk anything by getting your own lawyer. I highly recommend their service”
– Patrick from German Backpacker
“In early 2011, I had a flight with Condor Airlines from Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic to Frankfurt, Germany that was delayed by over 24 hours. At that time, I didn’t know anything about the EU passenger rights and only learned about them much later. Thankfully, it is possible to claim compensation for flights up to four years after the incident. So in 2014, when I learned about my rights, I contacted EUclaim regarding my claim. They answered within one week stating that my claim was valid and that they would take care of it. All I had to do is sign a mandate letter for EUclaim.
After around two months, I was contacted again and EUclaim told me that they would take Condor Airlines to court since they refused to pay the compensation. Another seven months later I got the message that they were successful in court and my money was transferred within a few working days. Of the normal €600 for a flight of that distance, I got €439.35 from EUclaim. An absolutely fair deal considering that they took all the risk of litigation. All I had to do was file my claim and respond to three e-mails.”
– Mike from 197travelstamps.com
“A few years back my flight from Amsterdam to Thailand got canceled due to a technical issue. I used EUclaim to file a claim and eventually got a compensation of €600. EUclaim takes 29% (success fee) + €29 for administration costs. I really recommend them because it’s easy, simple and they have great customer service. No cure, no pay is their motto, so although the fee is a little bit high, I try to use their service every time I have a problem with my flight.”
– Denise from Inhetvliegtuig.nl
VluchtVertraagd.nl / Flight-Delayed.co.uk
“My flight from Johannesburg to London departed more than three hours later than planned due to a technical issue and consequently I missed my connecting flight to Istanbul. Vlucht-Vertraagd.nl filed a claim on my behalf for 600 euro. After less than a month, I got a letter my claim was approved for 300 euro. Vlucht-Vertraagd.nl charged a fee of 25% of the total compensation.”
– Manouk from Bunch of Backpackers
“I used Fairplane in 2017 to get compensation for a flight I had taken in 2014, which had been significantly delayed. I had already tried to get compensation from Lufthansa, who I understood had operated the flight, but hadn’t had any luck, so I thought that even with a fee I would be better off getting something rather than nothing. It turned out after Fairplane’s investigation that the flight was actually with Air Dolomiti, which was one of the reasons I hadn’t made any progress with Lufthansa! They were able to successfully win my case, and after their 25% fee (+ VAT), a £20 insurance fee and a £4.80 cheque processing fee (all the fees were up front), I ended up with £134. I was happy with that as without them I wouldn’t have seen any compensation at all.”
– Laurence from Finding the Universe
“I was supposed to go for a short, 3-days long trip to Tbilisi, Georgia right before Christmas in 2016. The trouble has started already at the Warsaw airport when we were informed that our flight to Kutaisi will be 24 hours delayed, apparently due to the bad weather conditions in Georgia. We were offered accommodation in the nearby Marriott Hotel, including meals. Eventually, the flight was delayed for 25 hours. On the way back, we were again delayed for several hours due to the bad weather and the fact that ground personnel couldn’t deal with it. Again we were offered a hotel with lunch and left Georgia 14 hours after the scheduled departure time.
Even when in both cases the weather was the main reason for the delay, the airline could have made this delay shorter and that’s what my complaint was about. After failing to settle with the airline I used the Polish company AirCashBack and they won both cases for me. Since the distance between Warsaw and Kutaisi is longer than 1500 kms I got €400 way but the company took a 25% fee. Still, 300€ seems like a decent compensation for my time and the annoying situation I was put into.”
– Kami from Kami and the Rest of the World
Other claim companies
The companies linked to above, are linked to with my affiliate link. That means that if you claim compensation through them and win it, I earn a small commission from them at no extra cost to you. If you find the information I gathered in this post helpful, I’d appreciate it if you could use one of these links to help support the site. Thanks!
Your Flight Passenger rights when you’re on an overbooked flight
You’ve heard the gate agent make the announcement before. “Today’s flight is overbooked. We are looking for three volunteers to give up their seats.” This announcement is typically followed with an enticing incentive, but you’ve got somewhere to be and need to remain on this flight. If no one volunteers, what happens?
As referenced earlier, each airline carrier has a contract of carriage document, which you agree to when purchasing your tickets, in which it states that seats are not guaranteed using language that gives the airline the right to refuse to fly you at their discretion.
But, that doesn’t mean passengers have no safeguards. There are specific denied boarding regulations that are – again – a bit different in the US and in Europe.
United States Flights
Federal law in the United States provides passengers with federally mandated protections. The Department of Transportation requires that airlines first give passengers the chance to volunteer to change flights before they can involuntarily bump anyone.
Passengers are not randomly selected when it comes time to bump, meaning if you know your seat is at risk, it can be beneficial to volunteer for a different flight.
How do you know if your seat at risk?
An airline’s priority list for seats is often based on the fare you purchased your seat at, your frequent flyer status, your check-in time and your complete travel itinerary. If you check in online using the 24 hour in advance system, have a seat assignment listed on your boarding pass and skip those economy fare rates, it’s a good chance your seat is safe.
You’ve decided either the deal is too good to pass up or you think there’s a possibility your seat isn’t safe, and you decide to voluntarily give up your seat on an overbooked flight. There are a few things to keep in mind.
1. When you volunteer, you are only entitled to the overbooked flight compensation the airline offers, meaning you cannot claim additional compensation later as you waive these rights in taking the offer.
2. The DOT requires airlines to let volunteers know if their seat could be involuntarily bumped, and if that were to occur, what that compensation would be. This gives the volunteer and airline the chance to negotiate.
3. Airline employees have guidelines that allow them to buy back seats from volunteers willing to take the lowest negotiating price, so if there are more volunteers than are needed, it might not be worth giving up your seat.
4. Giving up your seat comes with a substitute flight and, typically, a voucher or a free ticket for an additional flight. Have a clear understanding of both your substitute flight and your incentives.
- Are there expiration dates or black-out dates on the incentives?
- Can the incentives be used on international flights?
- For your substitute flight, will you be flying standby, at the risk of being bumped again?
- Is there a substitute flight where you can get a confirmed seat, and does it meet your timing needs?
All of these things will help you decide whether it’s worth it to give up your seat, as you’ll get no other airline compensation for doing so.
The unfortunate situation of being denied access to your seat has occurred, and you are involuntarily bumped from your flight. What do you need to know?
1. Federal law states that the airline must inform a passenger being denied boarding what their rights are, along with providing these rights in writing.
2. You are entitled to denied boarding compensation in the form of cash or a check. If the airline arranges substitute transportation to your final destination, the amount of reimbursement will depend on how close your new arrival time is to your original arrival time.
- Within 1 hour: $0
- Between 1 and 2 hours: 200% of your one way fare, up to $675
- More than 2 hours (4 hours internationally) or no substitute transportation can be arranged: 400% of your one-way fare, up to $1350
Note: Frequent-flyer awarded tickets or tickets issued by a consolidator will receive denied boarding compensation based on the lowest cash, check or credit card payment charged for a ticket in the same class of service on the flight.
3. The denied boarding compensation is money for the inconvenience of bumping you off the flight. You additionally keep all the value of your original ticket, as it will be used to secure your substitute flight with the airline or, if you make your own arrangements, you can request an “involuntary refund” for the cost of the flight you were bumped from.
4. You are entitled to a refund for extra services you originally paid for (baggage fees, seat selections, etc) if you don’t receive those services on the next flight.
5. If bumping you from the flight costs you more than the airline will pay you at the airport, you can either try to negotiate a higher settlement with the complaint department or take the airline to court. Once you cash your check, though, negotiations are essentially off the table.
The EU denied boarding regulation sets minimum standards for air passengers to receive both compensation and assistance in the case of overbooked flights. Similar to the US guidelines, EU airlines must first give the option for volunteers to give up their seats in return for compensation as agreed upon between the passenger and the airline before bumping passengers involuntarily.
As cautioned above, make sure you understand any restrictions on the vouchers and new travel arrangements you accept as a volunteer.
If bumped involuntarily, passengers are entitled to compensation paid in cash or check that is structured based on the distance of the original flight:
- All flights 1500 kilometres or less: €250
- Intra-community flights greater than 1500 kilometres and all other flights between 1500 and 3500 kilometres: €400
- All other flights: €600
Just like in the US, the compensation is solely for your inconvenience, and the airline is still also responsible to find an alternative travel option for you or refund your ticket, including all taxes and fees.
The assistance you are entitled to in the case of overbooking mirrors that of delays and cancellations, subject to the amount of waiting time you experience. These include:
- Meals and refreshments
- Hotel stay if an overnight delay is required
- Transport to the hotel and back
- Two free telephone calls or two free telefaxes, fax or email messages
These rights apply to any flight departing from an EU airport, regardless of airline or destination. In addition, it also applies to inbound flights to the EU if the airline is an EU based airline.
Passenger Rights for Lost or Late Arrival Baggage
Over 120 nations honor the 2003 Montreal Convention, including the US and the EU, which established certain rights for airline passengers on flights between countries, and this includes baggage rights.
If you find your bag isn’t in baggage claim, don’t panic.
Before leaving the airport, report your bag as missing at the baggage kiosk/reclaim center and ask for a PIR (Property Irregularity Report) and case number for your bags. When filling out the report, be as detailed as possible and don’t leave any blanks.
Note: Make sure to write down the case number for your own records and save your boarding pass and baggage receipts!
The airline is required to give you funds to cover the few essential items like toiletries and underwear that you need while your bags are being located. Keep all receipts for necessary items purchased until your bags are located.
Once located, the airline might ask you to pick the bags up, but you don’t have to agree to this. Have them delivered to you.
When your bags are returned, file a claim within 21 days with the airline for reimbursement of the items purchased. You will need to provide receipts to get approval.
Most bags will turn up on the next flight, but if 30 days pass and your luggage is still not located, it is officially considered “lost”.
If your bags are in the unfortunate 3% that are never found, contact the airline to file a claim for lost luggage compensation and accurately itemize the belongings. You are entitled to up to $3,400 per person. Each airline has a different time frame in which to file this claim, so ask.
Denied Boarding When Flight Is Not Overbooked
Airlines can deny boarding for reasons other than overbooking flights, and these reasons are all listed in their individual codes. Examples include not being properly dressed, being pregnant in your ninth month without a doctor’s certified note, being intoxicated, disorderly conduct, carrying weapons, not following crew member’s instructions, etc.
It is up to airline personnel to determine if your behavior or situation fits into a category that calls for removal from the flight, for both your safety and the safety of the crew and other passengers.
The crew is not required to report your expulsion from the plane to the FAA or any other regulatory body, so what they say goes with little backlash for them. If they decide you’re off the flight, your best bet is to comply, then immediately request a new ticket.
As long as you didn’t break the law, you only experienced involuntary denied boarding and airlines are required to compensate your ticket or find you a new one in this case. You’re not entitled to any other denied boarding compensation.
What can you do if you feel you were kicked off for unfounded reasons?
You can attempt to file a complaint with the Department of Transportation or even take the airline to small claims court to recover financial losses. Most airlines have codes written in an extremely one-sided manner, so even if you experience over-the-top removal, it is hard to pin the airline down in court.
Alternatively, your best bet might be to file a complaint with the airline directly, requesting vouchers or flier miles that seem reasonable for your inconvenience. Airlines rarely settle with cash in these types of cases, and instead will provide services for later dates.
Does Travel Insurance Help?
Travel or Trip Insurance
Travel or trip insurance is additional protection that many well-seasoned travelers swear by after encountering a less than optimal situation abroad. Can it make a difference when dealing with airline issues?
In short, travel insurance coverage all depends on the plan you select, but most comprehensive plans include:
- Baggage coverage
- Baggage delay coverage
- Trip delay coverage
- Missed connection coverage
- Trip interruption coverage
For each of these categories, travel insurance can provide additional reimbursement funds for unforeseen costs when these events occur and coverage often helps fill in loopholes the airlines can take.
For instance, airlines have no responsibility to help you make a connection if the next leg of your journey is with a different carrier – their responsibility ends with their service. If you miss a cruise departure because of a plane delay, it is challenging to recover those costs from the airline. In that case, travel insurance can cover up this part of the bill.
In addition, travel insurance provides 24/7 worldwide phone assistance when these situations arise, which is incredibly reassuring as cancellations and lost bags always seem to pop up at less than optimal times.
To receive reimbursement for any of the covered areas, you will need to file a flight delay insurance claim (or a cancellation claim, or a lost luggage claim…) with the travel insurance company, and as with filing an airline claim, the more documents, receipts and records to save, the more likely it is that your claim will be accepted.
When selecting a policy, check consumer reviews online. Many will indicate how easy filing a claim was and can help you make an informed decision on a company that is reputable.
Insurance Focusing on Air Travel
Do you want to pay for the extra coverage offered by comprehensive insurance? The plans include medical emergencies and this often raises the cost. If that’s not what you’re concerned with, what you are options?
If you do your homework, you will also find insurance coverage, like that offered by AirCare, that focuses specifically on airline travel problems. These policies can be purchased within hours of your flight at costs at low as $25.
Policy holders will receive $50 for a flight delayed more than two hours, $500 for a missed connection due to a flight delay or when luggage is delayed more than 12 hours, and $1,000 if your plane sits on the tarmac more than two hours or luggage is lost or stolen.
“Cancel At Any Point” Airline Insurance
When you purchase your airline ticket, you will also have the option to buy their cancellation policies. While they claim you can cancel the flight at any time, there are many loopholes they use to deny requests. Combined with a hefty price tag and fees for changing a canceled flight, it is recommended to pick up travel insurance with a non-airline company to get the most bang for your buck.
What happens if you miss your flight?
It’s far from ideal, but sometimes bad traffic to the airport, close connecting flight times and other circumstances cause you to miss your flight. When that happens, are you just out of luck?
Here’s what to know:
If you know ahead of time that you are going to miss your flight, your best bet is to contact the airline to let them know. They can give your seat to standby passengers, and this ultimately makes them more willing to work with you on rebooking your own seat. Some agents will even rebook you over the phone, or you may be told to find an airline agent when you arrive to work through the details.
Note: This call is actually required by some airlines, like Southwest, for you to be eligible for their “Flat Tire Rule” as described below.
When rebooking the flight, expect airlines to charge rebooking fees, flight fare difference costs, or sometimes, both. Often airlines will only charge one or the other, especially if they are able to get you on a flight the same day.
The one exception to the rule is when you arrive to the airport within two hours of your original flight time and the reason for the delay is a flat tire, traffic accident or something similar that’s outside of your control. While this “Flat Tire Rule” is not specifically stated in airline contracts, the airlines will often honor rebooking you on another flight without the fees in these cases.
In any missed flight circumstance, it’s always good to remember that you are at the mercy of the gate agent and their supervisor. Be polite, let them know you made every effort to get to the airport on time, try to invoke the Flat Tire Rule and hopefully, you can avoid as many fees as possible.
And that’s it! I know it’s a lot of information at once, so make sure to bookmark this post so you can come back to if it you’d ever need it during your travels. Hopefully not, but it’s better to be prepared.
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