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What to do if your flight gets canceled

for US Domestic Travel

By Nicholas GraberPublished 11 days ago 7 min read
What to do if your flight gets canceled
Photo by Ross Parmly on Unsplash

Hopefully, you are sitting at home preparing for a day of travel and hoping nothing goes wrong, or at the very least, sitting at your gate wondering what will happen if your flight keeps getting delayed. This guide will help you the most, but if your flight has just been canceled at the last minute, there’s still a chance to get to where you need to be. Follow these steps, and I’ll explain after because time is of the essence if you’re in the thick of it:

1. TIME IS YOUR BIGGEST ENEMY AND GREATEST ASSET– Do everything as quickly, safely, and courteously as possible.

2. Get in line at your gate’s front desk or wherever the gate agents are IMMEDIATELY! It would be best to do this when your flight is still delayed, and there is no line yet, and remember not to leave your bags unattended.

3. If you have a travel companion, have them watch your things, and both start looking on your phone for new flights. It does not matter which airline or airport (if you’re near multiple airports).

4. Once you have found a suitable alternative flight, write down the flight numbers; you will need those numbers later. Also, make sure you give yourself enough time to get to the new flight; this next part may take well over an HOUR

5. If your flight has just been canceled and you are not first in line, call the help number for your airline and stay on the line no matter what; call back immediately if you get disconnected.

6. Keep your place in line waiting for a gate agent; DO NOT WALK AWAY.

7. If you get to a gate agent before speaking with an airline representative on the phone, try to stay on the phone, but you may need to hang up if a representative picks up while you are speaking to the gate agent.

8. Calmly and politely inform the gate agent or phone representative that you would like them to reschedule you on the flights you have found (even if they are a different airline).

9. Give them the flight numbers, times, and dates. Getting all the new flights together may take up to an hour or more!

10. Thank whoever helped you PROFUSELY, and make your way to your new flight and get to where you need to go!

If you were in the thick of it and used the above steps, I sincerely hope this helped you get to where you needed it without too much additional headache. If you are someone who is nervous about their flight or just someone who wants to be extra prepared, then follow along as I explain what just happened above so you can make the necessary adjustments to the plan that will best suit you. You will understand why each step is essential.

First off, flights do not usually randomly get canceled out of thin air. Typically, when flights are canceled out of the blue, the airline lets you know ahead of time and automatically rebooks you, and you have plenty of time to find alternatives or accept what the airline gives you. The issue is when you are at the airport at your gate, and suddenly there is a vague message about a flight delay. Usually, it will just be a thirty-minute or hour delay, but no great detail will be provided. If you are extra cautious, you should stand in line for the gate agent. Now, nothing can be done while your flight is just delayed and not canceled. You could pay for a new ticket, but you will NOT get reimbursed. There may be no issue, and the flight continues as planned, but at other times, another delay will extend the original delay, perhaps a third delay. Typically, this means that the flight will end up being canceled.

However, being between first and fourth in line will all but guarantee you a chance to speak to an actual human about rebooking your flight. The reason is that as soon as the flight is canceled, every single person will be competing to get on another flight from the same airline or a different airline, and this is a process that takes time. People also generally like to be difficult and rude to the gate agents, and this is just a massive waste of time, so if you aren’t first, second, third, or fourth in line, you won’t likely get a chance to speak to someone for over 2 hours and by then all the other flights for the day will be booked or gone, and you will be out of luck.

The reality is that if you get a chance to speak to an airline representative in person or on the phone, they must help you get to your destination as close as possible to your original itinerary, even if it is from a different airline. Now, the agents will not be looking for other airlines for you; they can only immediately see their company’s flights, so that is why you, your travel companion, or both should be looking high and low on Google Flights to find an alternative route from your airport or an airport you can get a taxi or Uber to. The agent may tell you that there are no other flights on their airline, but just as calmly and nicely as possible, tell them you’ve found flights on another airline and need their help to book the tickets for you. Then, when they ask, please give them the flight numbers and confirm the date and times for the new flights. Everyone is having a rough day at this point, so a little bit of compassion and humanity will go a long way here.

The phone call to the airline is your backup plan. You’ll have to do this over the phone if you aren’t close to the front of the line at the gate or the computer system isn’t working right at the gate. It’s crucial to do this as soon as possible because hundreds of others will be calling from your flight and likely any other delay or cancellation that day, so it will take a while to get ahold of someone. You will absolutely be sick of the hold/waiting music by the end of the ordeal, but it’s necessary to have a backup if you want to get to where you need to go. Since this is the backup plan, that’s why it’s crucial to stay in line because you may never hear from anyone on the phone, and it’s also likely that you will get disconnected and must start all over in the phone queue.

You need to find flights that leave you at least an hour, especially if you have checked luggage because they may require you to pick up your bag, but even across airlines, they should be able to retag them on the ground and get them on your new plane. Again, I cannot stress this enough, if you have been as friendly and polite as possible, you are much more likely to get help with matters like this, and it could be the difference between making your connection or being stuck overnight. You should consider where the new flight is within the airport, and if you find something at another airport, can you realistically get there in time?

Hopefully, you will never need this guide, but if you do, I hope it will help you avoid some major headaches and keep your pain to a minimum. Check out some of these items below that can help make your travels more comfortable and happy travels!

Noise Cancelling Ear Buds — Click Here!

Travel Neck Pillow — Click Here!

Compression Socks — Click Here!

*Disclaimer — This article contains affiliate links

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About the Creator

Nicholas Graber

I like providing insightful information to curious readers about various topics and comparing products to find what the best choices are for you.

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  • Alex H Mittelman 11 days ago

    Great work! Very interesting!

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