How To Avoid Fretting Over Flight Delays


You’ve been to the travel agents or found the best deal online and booked your holiday, the suitcases are packed, the children have asked for the thousandth time “are we there yet” and you are on the way to the airport.  But despite your best intentions things can, and often do, go wrong. Whether it is a lost coat, forgetting the passports or a child with travel sickness, any minor issue can affect your holiday experience. But what happens when you get to the airport, family, luggage, and excitement in tow and find that your flight has been delayed, or even worse, cancelled?  As well as affecting the mood of holidaymakers a delayed or cancelled flight can also affect the airport staff, making the entire situation a stressful and highly charged affair. But there are ways to reduce the stress.


Find out the reason
Passengers can often feel in the dark about why their flight is delayed and the confusion can lead to frustration, exasperation and even anger with the situation, airline and the airport staff.  By finding out the reason for the delay you are putting yourself back in control, reducing any anxiety instantly. But who do you speak to?  Find the airline’s flight desk or the airport manager. Many airports will have a designated member of staff to deal with all enquiries. As well as being able to tell you the reason for the delay they will also be able to impart information such as what is happening, any future actions and suggestions of where you can go while they solve the problem.
It is also important to remember that flight delays and cancellations cost airlines a significant amount of money – around $8 billion per year – so any delays are for the safety of the passenger.  This could be due to a fault with the airplane, airline faults, air traffic issues, security concerns, poor weather or a knock-on effect from other flight delays.
Know your rights
Passengers who have had a flight delay or cancellation are sometimes entitled to compensation, so make sure you know your rights.  You may be able to claim compensation If the problem was within the airline’s control – such as technical problems with the airplane, lack of crew or pilot or even if the flight has been cancelled due to low booking numbers.  If so you need to make a note of how long the flight was delayed for as this matters in how much money you may be entitled to. If your delay was under 3 hours you will not be entitled to any compensation however if you are delayed over 3 hours you can make a claim.  There are also many different types of compensation and this differs between airlines, but is usually a complementary hotel (if the delay is overnight), financial or even a rescheduled connecting flight for free. However if your connecting flight is with a different airline it may be difficult to reschedule and they will not provide compensation for the lost flight.  Therefore it may be worth considering booking all flights on your trip with the same airline.
Check your insurance
Never travel without insurance as many travel insurance policies may cover flight delays meaning you can claim for compensation.  Some policies also cover travel costs and expenses which can reduce the stress if you find yourself having to spend more when your flight has been delayed, so it is worth checking your policy to see if this is part of your package.  Many travellers choose the cheaper package for their travel insurance but a few extra pounds to include cancellations and delays can make any incidents less stressful.
Travelling to remote locations
Rearranging a delayed flight is difficult at the best of times but if you are travelling to a location that is off the beaten track it can be even more frustrating.  If you have had to book local ferries, seaplanes or even several taxis you could miss some – or all – of your bookings, making travel more convenient and even more expensive.  It is a good idea to book all travel with the same company, especially flights, as this will make it easier for the airline to reschedule. Make sure that you purchase a travel insurance policy that covers more remote locations. These can be bought online or through the company you have booked your holiday with.  Many travellers prefer to book their entire trip through a travel agent who can not only book your flights, accommodation and travel insurance for you, but also excursions and all connecting transport. This way if a flight is delayed one call to the travel agent can resolve everything – although please check with your agent when you book as there may be extra fees.
Compensation can be claimed by contacting the airline customer service team and you will need all of your flight information. Be sure to keep all correspondence with the airline in case you encounter difficulties further down the line. To get additional support, you can contact the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) who will be able to help you with your claim. You can also consult a legal expert, who can advise you on exactly what you should be claiming for.
Making a claim
If your flight delay is within the EU and over two hours the airline is required to offer passengers food and drink, access to emails or a telephone plus overnight accommodation where required, and these can be obtained by speaking to the airline.  The rules change when your flight is delayed for more than three hours and is a problem within the airline’s control. Any reimbursement can differ depending on the length of the flight as well as the airline. If the delay is out of the airline’s control – airport strikes, bad weather – you may not be able to claim.  The rules change again where flights have been delayed more than five hours. You should be offered alternative flights, however if you decide to not take the flight you will be entitled to a full refund for the cancelled or delayed flight as well as any connecting flights. But if you choose to continue with your journey you are entitled to a rescheduled flight plus compensation.

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photo credit: Guillaume DELEBARRE Between Vegas and Frisco via photopin

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