It may be a traveller’s worst nightmare. And do not deceive yourself in believing that it will never happen to you. You might and you will one day find out that you’re stuck in an airport as your flight was CANCELLED or even DELAYED. You might as well discover that you’re left behind, that the airline company has bumped you from the plane despite the fact that your reservation or ticket was confirmed – there is just not enough room for you in the plane. Quite annoying, isn’t it?
As irritating as these instances might be, the best way to cope with them is to try to find a solution that would best suit your situation as there is no magic wand to turn up out of the blue and put you in the plane that has just left or un-cancel or un-delay your flight.
The truth is that even though the majority of the airline travels are humdrum; the company will never assure you that their schedules will unfold as originally established and it is you who must understand this while arranging your voyage. Furthermore, there are a countless of reasons why planes cannot arrive to their point of destination in DUE TIME.
Most of them cannot be attributed to the companies as they are produced by BAD WEATHER or MECHANICAL PROBLEMS. Some of these problems, such as bad weather and resulting air traffic delays, are beyond. Nonetheless, you are the one who can do something about it to lessen the odds of coming across such inconveniences.
Know your rights
We’re not trying to have a CRASH COURSE on legal issues but whenever you buy something, no matter what, you enter in a legal juristic relationship which in this case is materialized by the AIRLINE TICKET. You have therefore concluded an agreement, i.e. the airline ticket, with that particular airline. The scope of such contract is to get you to your destination while the duties and responsibilities of both parties are, in this case, laid down on the ticket.
In case of INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS, they are generally known as “tariff rules“. With US, you need to know that the US Department of Transportation (DOT) has compelled all the companies to inform their travellers in this respect. Read these rules carefully as they represent your rights.
What to do when your flight has been delayed or cancelled?
As pointed out before, it is quite difficult to foresee the delays that are due to terrible weather, traffic control as well as mechanical problems. In case your air travel is cancelled, the majority of the airlines will find you another seat on the earliest flight which will take to your destination, at no extra fee. If, on the other hand, you managed to find a seat on a different plane, then you may ask them to approve your ticket to the new carrier. You may not have to pay extra, but you should know that the companies do not have any rule that might require them to do this.
In so far as the federal requirements are concerned, every airline has its own GUIDELINES with reference to DELAYED PASSENGERS. Contrary to general believe, airlines are not compelled to pay for meals or a phone call, so you have to ask them for such amenities or services.
Therefore, in case your flight is canceled, the majority of the airline companies will rebook you on their subsequent flight to help you get to your destination at no additional charge, provided that there is seat for you there. If this puts you though a considerable delay, search if another company has any available seats and request the original airline to endorse your ticket to the new one. This may be easier said than done particularly during HOLIDAY SEASONS or PEAK TRAVEL TIMES. Of course, you can ask for a refund for a canceled flight.
In case of TARMAC DELAYS the new federal rules regulates that the U.S. airlines that operate domestic flights are obliged to permit travellers to deplane after a tarmac delay of three hours. In this case, the companies are also required to supply adequate food and drinking water within two hours of being delayed on the tarmac. Furthermore, they also have to maintain operable lavatories and, if case may be, provide medical attention.
You may also find out more information referring to delays on the web site of the Department’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Furthermore, in case you make a reservation close to your leaving date, the FAA web site can provide sensible information on air traffic and weather-related delays on a real-time basis. You can subscribe to FAA notifications concerning existing delays at different airports.
Moreover, airline companies are forbidden to schedule chronically delayed flights. You may find more useful information on Department of Transportation’s website.
What if you’re bumped from a US flight?
This means that you’re left behind even though you have a previously confirmed ticket or reservation. The airlines can sell more tickets for a flight than seats. This is NOT ILLEGAL. This means that the airline companies usually overbook their flight because they need to compensate for the passengers that do not show up. Getting bumped from a flight greatly depends on the moment you officially check-in for your flight, so they best way to avoid this is to make an effort to arrive early.
The U.S. Department of Transportation stipulates that airlines should ask people to give up their seats voluntarily, in exchange for some sort of COMPENSATION. Airlines are the one that decide what to offer volunteers, such as money, a free trip, food or lodging – it’s up to them. Furthermore, the law also provides compensation when you are “bumped” from a flight that is overbooked.
To conclude with, delays cancellations or overbooking are not that odd. They do happen and the best idea to cope with such events is to be informed and stand for your rights.