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What to do if your flight is canceled or delayed

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    Travel sometimes comes with unexpected hiccups and adjustments to your schedule, including when a flight has been cancelled or delayed. This can happen for a number of reasons, from severe weather to logistical or mechanical problems, and can put a wrench in your plans. Thankfully, there are a few ways to help navigate a cancelled or delayed flight.

    Below, we will review:

    • How to find out if your flight has been canceled or delayed
    • When you should arrive at the airport if your flight is delayed
    • What to do if your flight is delayed
    • What to do if your flight is canceled
    • How to get a refund if your flight has been canceled

    How to find out if your flight has been canceled or delayed

    Depending on your airline and how you’ve booked your tickets, you can check the status of your flight by using the airline’s mobile application. Usually there is a way to review your trip itinerary and check the flight status to see if it is on time, delayed or canceled.

    You can also go to the airline’s website and search for your specific trip to look for updates. If you’re in the airport, you may see your flight listed along with its status alongside other departures. There are third-party flight trackers you can download and use as well.

    When should I arrive at the airport if my flight is delayed?

    Just because a flight is delayed doesn’t necessarily mean you should arrive there later than you were planning. Even if there is a delay, you'll still want to arrive at the airport well ahead of your new departure time. This is because the status of your flight can change unexpectedly, and delays may be cut short. Regardless of your flight’s status, always build in extra time for airport arrival.

    What to do if your flight is delayed

    If your flight has been delayed, whether by an hour or a few hours, still plan to arrive early, as there are many variables when traveling. Check your mobile device for up-to-date news on your flight. Be sure to check for updates regularly, as there may be last-minute or sudden changes to your flight, including gate changes.

    While you initially may feel stressed or bummed about a delayed flight, try to make the most of your wait. Enjoy the amenities of the terminal. You can use this extra time to charge your phone, grab a bite to eat, rest and read while you await your flight.

    What to do if your flight is canceled

    A canceled flight can be a little more complicated, as it entails rescheduling and sometimes finding a place to stay. Below are some key steps to take if your flight has been canceled.

    Rebook your flight

    It’s likely the cancelation happens while you’re already at the airport. Depending on your airline, you might be able to use a self-serve kiosk to review options for rebooking your flight. Otherwise, head over to the airline agent's front desk and discuss options with the representative on duty. Try to get there as soon as possible, as rebooking flights usually run on a first-come, first-serve basis.

    Finally, just as you can use the airline’s mobile app for updates, you may be able to use it to make adjustments for your new flight. Use the app to track the flight status if there’s been a rescheduled flight or look for potential connecting flights.

    Check airport hotels

    You'll need a place to stay if your new flight has been rescheduled to the following day. Not only that, but you will most likely want to rest up when you can during these travel hiccups. The good news is that if your flight is pushed to the next day and you require overnight accommodation, airlines are required to compensate you for this stay, with some exceptions. Try booking a hotel either through your mobile app or by speaking with a representative at the agent’s desk. You can also see about hotels in surrounding areas if no rooms are available at airport hotels.

    If you have a friend or relative who lives in the area, consider reaching out to them to see if you can stay for a night and receive a ride to the airport the next day. Wherever you end up staying, be sure to check your next flight status and arrive early to the airport for the new flight departure.

    How to get a refund if your flight has been canceled

    If you’re no longer planning to travel due to the cancelation, a refund might be available. Note that this can be a lengthy process and doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll receive a refund for all expenses and fees (unless you have travel insurance). It’s possible you may be offered a voucher but review these carefully; they may come with blackout dates or other limitations.

    If neither refunds nor vouchers are offered, you might want to contact the customer service department of your airline and explain the details of your specific situation to obtain satisfaction.

    In summary

    Traveling isn’t always a seamless, easy process, but with preparation and organization, you can pivot and adjust your plans accordingly. If your flight has been canceled or delayed, do your best to remain calm and collected as you make arrangements for your new departure.

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