Cancelled Flights

Dealing With Delays & Cancelled Flights

London Heathrow: Photo by Blane

We all know about cancelled flights during the Volcanic Dust Cloud earlier in the year and have heard about the threats of industrial actionslater in the Summer. Whatever the reason we all know such events are a headache for everyone.

Let's face it, airlines hate a cancelled flight even more than the passengers. Airlines are faced with a whole domino effect. You are only affected by your own cancelled flight but to the Airline has to cope with the knock on effect. Planes end up in the wrong places with crews that can't fly because the limitations of time regulations, known as "Crew Duty Time".

One of the most common reasons a flight is cancelled is weather. If its snowing hard at your departure airport is pretty obvious, no one is going anywhere. If it's sunny and calm outside how can the flight be disrupted by weather?

The weather problems might be thousands of miles away but if that is where your plane is arriving from you have a problem. Weather conditions anywhere in the world can affect your flight if it is a long haul flight.

Flights may be disrupted due to mechanical problems. If this is the case, obviously you want them to cancel, but it's still hard not to feel frustrated. Crew duty time can be a problem in itself if crews are in the wrong place or were late arriving from their previous trip and have not had sufficient res time to make the due departure time

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  • So what should you do if your flight is cancelled? The second you hear that your plane is not going anywhere, call the airline's freephone number (toll-free number). A little preplanning will have it programed in your mobile phone. Before you start dialling join the queue at your airline desk whilst it is still fairly short.

    Once in the queue make the call; chances are you'll get rebooked more quickly on the phone than at the counter where there are usually only a couple of overwhelmed airline employees.

    Firstly calmly ask what your options you have. , It actually pays to have an idea of alternatives before you get to the airport. Most times you won't need to use the alternatives, but with such flights, the sooner you can act on those alternatives, the more likely you are to get on your way whilst everyone else is still looking up their options.

    Most airlines will rebook you, with no fees or penalties, on the next flight on which space is available. That will not necessarily be on the next flight; as it all depends on available space. The next flight on which space is available, especially at peak holiday periods, could mean a wait of more than just hours. If you have seen the news, the last few years, you know it can even be days!

    If the wait seems too long, ask if there might be a seat on another airline. Remember they are in competition, but airlines will often endorse your ticket to another carrier to try and get you on your way in a timely fashion.

    You'll have the most luck if the flight is on a partner airline. If these things don't work, suggest solving your flight problem by connecting through another city or going to another airport.

    Remember, all of these suggestions only work if your cancelled flight is pretty much an isolated situation. If all the airlines are canceling flights, as they must in bad weather or exception circumstance such as Volcanic Ash Clouds, patience is the only thing that will work.

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