How To Deal With Flight Cancellations

flight cancellations

The past few weeks have been trying for the airline industry: passengers stung by scorpions, passengers being drug off the plane, #legginsgate and thousands of cancelled flights at ATL due to storms. While reading and adhering to dress codes and following airline personnel requests – however inconvenient they may be – might have helped avoid some of these scenarios, there’s absolutely nothing we can do to prevent a delayed flight, or even flight cancellations, due to weather. But we can take certain actions after the event. In any case, the last thing we should do is to lose our cool, even if airline representatives¬†aren’t able to fully accommodate our needs or wants.


How To Deal With Flight Cancellations

Flight cancellations can be some of the most frustrating travel events. Depending on the situation, a cancelled flight could derail the entire vacation. But following a few steps, in order, could help mitigate the damage done. Please note that this guide is intended for leisure travel, business travelers should coordinate cases of flight disruptions with their employer and follow company policy.


Reschedule Online 

Whenever booking a flight, it’s always a good idea to download the airline app and to log in. Not only does this give you access to very convenient mobile boarding passes, but more importantly, it keeps you up to date on flight updates. Another good practice is to sign up for text message updates. Either way, as soon as you learn of the flight cancellation, get online or on the app and try to reschedule your flight. Whenever possible, airlines try to offer alternatives online for you to book directly. This feature, however, is not always available and it’s a good idea to call the airline simultaneously and to get in queue.


Call Airline That Operates Flight

While you’re in the process of rebooking online, you should already be in line to talk to a representative of the airline that operated the flight. That means, if you’ve used Air France/KLM Flying Blue miles to book a Delta operated flight from ATL to FRA, call Delta Airlines. It was their flight that was affected, for whatever reason, so they should find you another way to get you to your destination. In case of an international flight, you also have the option of contacting the airline’s hotline in the country of your destination. The recent storm in Atlanta caused such a flight disruption that the US Delta hotline was completely overwhelmed and some passengers never got through to customer service or reservations. But Delta hotlines in other countries were unaffected by this and operated as usual.


Call Airline Or Travel Agency You Used For Booking

If you were still unable to receive help, go ahead and contact the airline or travel company you used to book the flight originally. The reason I do not advise to contact them initially is because their resources could be limited, and they’ll usually ask you if you already talked to the airline that was supposed to operate the flight. In the case of booking with Flying Blue for instance, they will do everything they can to find you a new flight, but since Flying Blue is an airline frequent flyer program, their computer systems generally limit them to finding you an award space. This is even the case if they need to completely outsource and search for a flight outside of the Flying Blue/SkyTeam network to get you to your destination. You can provide them with a flight number and date for a flight you’d like to be booked on and chances are that the representative on the phone won’t even find it in the system.


Social Media

As you’re searching for a new flight online and waiting in queue to talk to customer service/reservations, get on Twitter and contact any airline or travel agency that was involved in booking or carrying out the flight. Replies may come at a delay, but you want as many shots at talking to the airline as possible. Facebook is another great tool to get a flight rebooked.



If all else fails, go to the airport. The airline will have representatives there that will be able to assist you. In fact, depending on the proximity to the local airport and the time of the day, feel free to immediately skip to this step. Just make sure to bring your luggage, because you never know what flight you may be offered. I’ve been in situations where I talked to a supervisor at the check-in counter about my cancelled flight while finally receiving a reply on Twitter from the airline I used for booking. Now my biggest problem in life was to pick between the two flights I’d been offered. I can think of worse situations to be in.


Bottom Line

In case of a flight cancellation, the key is to be as flexible as possible. You may not fly in your preferred class or on the same day even. Instead of a non-stop flight, you may now have a layover or two. The important thing is that you make it to your destination safely. Keep your frustration to a minimum. The last thing an airline wants to do is to cancel flights, so when they do, it’s usually due to weather or for mechanical reasons. Either way, it’s probably a good thing that it was discovered pre-flight and not mid-air, so don’t be too upset.

What was your worst travel experience due to flight cancellations or delay?