It’s every traveler’s worst nightmare.
You’re at the airport, buzzing with excitement. Your suitcase weighs exactly 69.9 lbs, and your passport is shivering with anticipation for its newest stamp.
You walk up to the flight information board, find your flight number your heart drops. The word CANCELED glares back at you.
It’s enough to send anyone’s anxiety into overdrive.
Not sure what to do first? Here’s a step-by-step guide on what to do if your flight gets canceled.
Prep For a Canceled Flight Before You Leave The House
No, you don’t need to book a session with your local psychic before each flight.
All you need to do is plan smartly and buffer your travel plans against delays or cancellations.
Step 1: Book travel insurance
Trust me, you never, ever want to go on a trip without a comprehensive travel insurance plan. You never know what might happen, and the best offense is always a good defense.
Travel insurance will cover you for trip cancellations, interruptions, lost luggage, trips to the emergency room, and so much more.
Can you really afford to book a new flight, replace every item in your hand luggage, or have a hospital stay in a foreign country?
If not, book your travel insurance immediately.
Step 2: Book Your Flights Directly
While it’s tempting to scoop up an airfare deal with a third-party travel booking site, the customer support isn’t the greatest when dealing with canceled flights.
Instead of speaking directly to the airline, you’ll need to contact the site you booked your flights through. Depending on your package, you might only be eligible for email support with a much longer response time.
As you’ll see soon, timeliness is essential when your flight is canceled.
Step 3: Turn On Flight Delay/Cancellation Notifications
Most airlines will email or SMS you if there are any changes to your flight.
However, it’s never a bad idea to take it one step further and the FlightAware app. It gives you real-time flight tracking and customizable flight status push alerts and lets you filter by airline, airport, and flight number.
Step 4: Download AirHelp
Not up to speed with your rights as a passenger? Download AirHelp, and you can quickly determine if you’re eligible to receive compensation for a flight cancellation or delay.
What to Do When Your Flight is Cancelled
Okay, you’re at the airport and no longer going to Bali.
Step 1: Rebook Your Flights ASAP
Don’t sit back and wait for the airline to rebook your flight, especially if you’re in a rush.
Instead, log onto the airline’s website and see if you can book the next flight.
Not working? Head to the airline’s kiosk and speak to support or call the airline directly.
Remember, you’re probably fighting for space on the next flight with everyone else. Seats are limited and will go quickly.
Step 2: Book Accommodation
If you’re not going anywhere until the next day, hop onto Booking.com and book a room for the night.
Like flights, you want to action this step ASAP. The other passengers will also be doing the same, and you don’t want to stay too far from the airport.
The good news?
Your travel insurance plan will usually cover your stay! Check your plan to see what travel delay expenses you can write off.
Step 3: Read The Airline’s Cancellation Policy
According to U.S. consumer protection laws, you are entitled to a full refund and optional service fees if your flight is canceled.
However, most airlines will offer you a refund in the form of a travel voucher. If you want cash back, it’s possible to ask and push to get your money back.
For any other additional compensation, read the airline’s policy on flight cancellation.
Step 4: Activate Your Travel Insurance
Once you know your flight is canceled, call or email your travel insurance provider, open a ticket, and find out the next steps.
Most providers will reimburse you for alternative transportation to your destinations, minus any money you get back from the airline.
For example, if your trip hasn’t begun and you can’t get to your destination for at least 24 hours, you can claim that as a reason to cancel the entire trip. Your travel insurance will then reimburse you for any non-refundable costs.
What happens if you have already started your journey?
If you miss more than 50% of your trip due to cancellations and delays, your travel insurance can reimburse you for unused, non-refundable costs.
There you have it. That’s everything you need to know about what to do when your flight is canceled.
Got any questions or tips for your fellow travelers? Let me know in the comments below!