WHAT TO DO IF YOUR FLIGHT IS DELAYED OR CANCELLED
FNY Times light cancellations and delays can leave travellers feeling hapless and helpless. Weather and mechanical delays often leave passengers wondering what, if any, recourse they have. And while you are typically at the mercy of the airline, there are a few tips for mitigating the pain.
Bad weather is not your friend, especially when it comes to delays and cancellations. While airlines may offer to pay for hotel and meals during an overnight delay when the reason is the airline’s fault — mechanical problems, for example — they typically will not do so when the reason is weather-related. Be prepared to fend for yourself. Use the airline’s app, call the customer service number or speak to a gate agent to figure out your options. Flight schedules are not guaranteed and in countries such as the US, by law, airlines are not obliged to provide any compensation for delays or cancellations — even when it is their fault.
The other exception is if you are involdenied boarding, otherwise known as getting “bumped” from a flight, which often results from airline overbooking. If this happens to you and the airline cannot arrange to get you to your destination within an hour of your original arrival time, it is required undre US law to compensate you in cash, up to $1,350, depending on the length of the delay.
Two more important notes: When a gate agent asks for volunteers to take a later flight in exchange for a voucher and you accept, you will not be entitled to additional compensation.
One exception to the bumped-passenger compensation rule is if you did not check in to your flight on time (different carriers have different cutoffs). You should get into the habit of checking in the day before your flight. (You will typically get an e-mail from the airline prompting you to do so.)
You will need a considerable amount of information to collect on your claim, including proof of round-trip travel, your old itinerary, your new itinerary, credit card statements and receipts for expenses incurred. Keep itemised receipts for meals, and don’t expect to be reimbursed for alcohol or gratuities.
Sending credit card statements is an annoyance, as they sometimes won’t post for weeks after you have made a purchase. Some people put off filing a claim until their statements are posted and forget to follow through — which is exactly what insurance companies bank on.
Do not make that mistake: You can file your claim immediately, even if you do not have all the supporting documents. You can submit them later, provided it is in within the required time frame.
You will need a statement from your common carrier stating the reason for the delay — again, not the most convenient thing to obtain.
Write the airline’s customer service e-mail address to request verification of why your flight was delayed or cancelled. It may take one or two follow-up e-mails, but they should oblige.
Finally, persistence is the key with collecting on insurance claims. Photograph receipts and take screenshots of boarding passes. Follow up.
Think you deserve compensation for something? Ask for it. The point is: While you may get turned down, you should always (politely) ask for what you think you deserve.
Airline customer service is a stressful job, and the vast majority of employees do their best to get passengers where they need to go in a timely manner. So when it is your turn at the desk, take a deep breath, smile and remember that the person you are speaking to did not personally cause that maintenance issue — or thunderstorm.