Home TIPS Travel troubles: What to do if your flight is cancelled
Travel troubles: What to do if your flight is cancelled PDF Print E-mail

We have to admit it. The economy’s in a mess, and for the travel industry, it could get messier after the summer vacation season ends. Quickie airlines, such as AirAmerica, may go broke before they can even get off the ground. A recent news release says there have been nearly a million dollars in pre-paid AirAmerica reservations that may or may not be fully refunded.

So, what happens if you’ve paid full price or put a deposit on a flight and it is cancelled? It won’t necessarily happen because an airline goes broke, but more likely be due of bad weather, mechanical difficulties, flight delays between airports and other everyday glitches. When it happens, how do you overcome the problem? Here are some tips for avoiding, or at least making the problem less painful:

Flight cancelled


1. Starting about 24 hours before your flight is schedule to depart, call the airline and/or check with its website every few hours to get the latest flight status, especially if weather could become a factor.

2. Before you leave home on the day of your flight, make that final call to the airline to be sure that your flight is set to leave on time. If there’s a big delay, and your flight may depart five or six hours late, don’t go to the airport and sit around for that time. Then, also on the day you’ll take your return flight, take the same steps.

3. If your flight is cancelled, and weather is not the problem, ask to get another flight as soon as possible. Some airline help desks will actually try to get you on a rival airline flight, so don’t hesitate to ask for it. One of the most frustrating things that happen is if your flight is cancelled, and you’re put on standby for the next full flight. Don’t accept that situation, but don’t fuss with the clerk at the airport desk. Call the airline trouble number and make a big fuss. That often works for us, because despite being solid booked, there are always several seats, especially for squeaky wheels that make the most noise.

4. If all else fails after your flight is cancelled, demand to be put up in a nearby hotel for the night and booked on a morning flight. On several more squeaky wheel complaints, we’ve not only received the hotel room, but also several hundred bucks worth of credit for a future flight.

5. If your flight is cancelled for any reason other than weather, know your rights and be sure to speak up about them. Don’t harass airport employees, because they don’t have the clout to get you on the next flight. And, as our unhappy experience has proved, don’t call your travel agent. That can’t help, either. The only possible way you can get on that next flight is if you call the airline HQ trouble line and make your best pitch with logical, not angry, information.

Stay in-the-know about the latest Sports, Life, Money, Tech, and Travel stories. You'll get your first 2 months of USA TODAY for $25 (charged monthly). All print subscribers receive the e-Newspaper included with their subscription.