While we can’t control the turbulent events associated with air travel or flight cancellations, these days, there are ways to make it a less bumpy ride. Here are some steps to mitigate your stress and increase travel success when a flight doesn’t take off as planned.
WHEN BOOKING A FLIGHT…
Be an early bird
Arriving at the airport at the crack of dawn may be the last thing you want to do but making the first flight out has a few practical benefits. This is especially convenient if you’d rather not ask, “What do I do if my flight is cancelled?”
According to data gathered by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, flights with scheduled departures between 6 and 7 a.m. have the best on-schedule arrival times – just 8.6 minutes late, on average. Delay times and flight cancellations only get worse as the day goes on. And if your flight does get delayed or cancelled, you’ll have better chances to get another flight that same day than those leaving in the afternoon/evening.
Another perk of early-bird flights: Because they are at non-peak hours, they tend to be cheaper too than other available flights. Plus, did you know that morning flights are prone to less turbulence due to atmospheric conditions?
Be strategic with layovers
When booking a flight, your best option, of course, is to fly nonstop. The fewer places you have to visit, the less likely you’ll be stuck somewhere you’re not supposed to be.
But if a direct flight isn’t available, be strategic with where you’ll spend your layover in case three hours at the airport between connecting flights turn into an overnight at the nearest hotel due to a disruption. If you have more than one layover option for a different flight, select the destination that’s more appealing to you – whether you have a friend you can visit there, a client in the area you can take out for lunch, or an attraction you want to cross off your bucket list. This way, a day trapped in a destination waiting for the next available flight isn’t a wasted day at all.
Plan for a cancellation
If traveling for a “can’t miss” meeting, consider a flight that arrives a day or two before the big event if possible. Having this buffer involving the new flight increases your chances to make the event if there’s a delay or cancellation. And if there are no flights that will enable you to get there in time, at least you’ll have an extra day to notify the other attendees and figure out a Plan B.
Bonus: If all does go according to plan and you arrive early, you can spend the extra hours getting over jet lag, acclimating to the new environment, and polishing your presentation.
BEFORE YOU LEAVE FOR THE AIRPORT…
Check your phone for updates
In the days and hours leading up to your departure, we recommend checking the status of your flight a few times – and especially before hailing a ride to the airport. You can sign up for an airline’s text alerts to get updates instantaneously. Though if you’re not loyal to one airline, it’ll be easier to download a single app that offers flight status updates for any carrier you’re flying with.
Travelers who book their trip with us can use Amex GBT Mobile, which provides real-time updates about delays and cancellations. The amazing thing about this service? According to feedback our Traveler Care team has received from clients, sometimes we send updates about flight disruptions to travelers before airline agents have a chance to announce them at the gate and everyone’s rushing to rebook.
IF YOUR FLIGHT IS DELAYED OR CANCELLED…
Let us help with rebooking
When there’s a mass cancellation, you can contact us right away for rebooking assistance via phone, chat in our mobile app, Apple Business Chat, or WhatsApp. Because of our relationships in the industry, we have priority numbers with many of the airline partners and often can get our travelers rebooked to a different flight faster than the general public calling in.
If you’ve booked your trip with us, don’t be surprised if you hear from us to see if you need rebooking assistance, when you’re dealing with a cancelled flight.
Through our Proactive Traveler Care™ service, we automatically reach out to potentially impacted travelers when there’s a delay or cancellation to help get you on another flight. Plus, we can assist with rescheduling any other bookings affected by the delay, or cancelled flight.
Tip: Because Proactive Traveler Care only works if your flight has been cancelled when a booking has been made through us, be sure to make the air reservation through your company’s booking tool or one of our travel counselors.
Be sure to get your money or a credit back
According to the US Department of Transportation, airlines are obliged to offer a full refund if there’s a flight cancellation for any reason or if a flight is “significantly delayed” and the passenger chooses not to travel. What constitutes a significant delay (which allows you to get a flight refund) is determined by the airline, so check the carrier’s website to learn what its specific policy is.
Although airlines may offer customers a credit instead, you are entitled to a full refund. Whichever form of compensation you prefer for your flight refund, be sure not to lose the value of your ticket. To this end, we’ve created Air Track Expert, which identifies airline tickets eligible for a refund or voucher that have not been processed yet – because we know how easy it is to forget to follow up and claim a refund or voucher amid the chaos of today. Be sure to follow the steps that were discussed whenever you ask yourself, “What do I do if my flight is cancelled?”