How to Keep a Flight Delay From Ruining Your Trip
Experiencing a flight delay? Being rerouted? Severe weather can ruin a trip fast if you’re not prepared. From having a backup plan to packing essentials and entertaining yourself at the airport, preparing for a flight delay can save your trip.
Here are a few ways to plan ahead for delays so it doesn’t ruin your holiday or vacation.
Check the forecast before your trip and track your flight
You can’t stop Mother Nature but you can keep an eye on the weather. Check the forecast in your area AND in your travel destination. But, don’t stop there. Check to see where your flight is originating from to confirm your plane left on time. This can help confirm your incoming flight isn’t going to be delayed.
Use an app like:
Tip: You can also search Google with your flight number to check for delays and updates.
Plug-in for updates
One mistake some travellers make is they don’t stay informed. When a flight is delayed, they pop in a movie on their phone or tablet or they start shopping online with the free Wi-Fi. Or, if their flight is cancelled, they get in that massively long line to rebook. While that can work, it’s time-consuming and sometimes unnecessary.
Instead of standing in a long line, look for an outlet and charge your phone and/or computer or tablet. Then hop online and check for your flight and airline on social media. Chances are, an agent might have already started telling travellers about rebooking options. And, they might offer a link you can use to rebook or get a refund (sans the long lines). If they’re not online yet, reach out to your airline on Twitter or by text message (and, be polite). You might find a helpful agent that can assist you with rebookings and refunds.
Tip: While you’re online, check the airport’s website for delays and your specific carrier for updates.
Don’t get bored if you can’t board
Stuck at the airport but have a credit card on you? Check to see if your credit card or travel insurance includes benefits like free access to airport lounges. You can check the airport’s website for the available lounges and amenities they offer.
Don’t just stand around, take the tour
Travelling with kids or a large group? If your flight is delayed, make it fun. Break up into groups of 2 or 3 people and walk around the airport to check out the stores and shops. Plan to meet back at your gate at a specific time. This reduces the boredom as most airports have souvenir shops, bookstores and specialty shops.
Have a scavenger hunt
Ready to see if the millennials can outperform the baby boomers? Have a scavenger hunt. Make a list of five to 10 items for family or friends to find (under a dollar or two to keep costs down), and, let them loose. Plan to meet back up at the gate and keep one person there to listen out for updates.
Plan a culinary adventure
Want to get your finger’ licking fun on? Ready to awaken your taste buds? Airports don’t all have stale sandwiches. From lobster rolls to deep dish pizza and barbecue, some of the larger airports feature food from the best eateries and local shops in the area. If your airport doesn’t have a map, hop on the airport’s website and pull up a list of the restaurants and eateries to explore.
Avoid airline and hotel change-related fees
Good planning can reduce the threat of having to sleep at the airport or cancel a trip you're so excited about. Here are a few ways to help with change-related fees to avoid flight delay and cancellation disasters.
With your hotel
When you reach out to your hotel, if the (800) number won’t help you with a refund, contact the front desk. You might reach a manager who can approve your change request even if it’s under 24-hours.
Other tips include:
- Calling your destination hotel to see if they will let you check-in late if you’re rerouted. Or, if they’ll let you keep your reservation if you can’t make it until the next day.
- Calling the hotel to see if they will let you bump up your reservation by a day or two. If you have to change your flights, why not change your travel dates?
- Consider flying into a different area and making a new hotel reservation. Call the hotel’s (800) number and see where they have other destinations.
With your airline carrier
Found out the airline is delaying your flight? Call them before heading to the airport. The airlines are likely anticipating a lot of passengers who need to make flight changes. Ask if you can shift from a late night flight to one in the morning. Or, ask if they can reroute your connection if the problem is with a connecting flight.
- Is your flight non-refundable? Check the airline’s website to see if they charge a fee for changing your flight. Then be nice to the agent. Good humour and politeness go a long way. The agent might waive the fee.
- Contact your travel insurance provider with flight delays. Your snowbird insurance or travel insurance might cover hotels, rebookings and other assistance.
- Request a credit with your airline instead of a refund if they state there are no refunds. Sometimes this works if you reach the right agent.
Keep a backup plan in mind
Flight delays can be a nightmare unless you have a plan. Think about staying at your hotel an extra night. If you’re short on cash, don’t book through the site, talk to a hotel manager. They might be able to move you to a smaller room at a lower cost. Or, think about a rental car, bus or train if you can’t fly out. Another possibility is to reach out to friends and family on social media. They might know someone in the area who can make a recommendation for you or have a cheap - or free place for you to crash overnight.
Purchase travel insurance for your trip
Bad weather is one of the biggest sources of travel delays, Hence, travel insurance is a fail-safe plan for a lot of travellers. It can provide help if a flight is delayed or cancelled.
Travel insurance benefits:
- They cover flight delays and cancellations if you need to rebook.
- It can cover your hotel if you have to stay overnight due to flight cancellations.
- It covers lost and/or damaged luggage.
- Your daily essentials (shaving, feminine hygiene) and don’t forget your toothpaste.
- A washcloth and towel or body wipes.
- A change of clothing and comfy pair of socks.
- Any medication you need.
- Your smartphone, tablet and battery chargers.
Tip: Don’t wait until the last minute to purchase travel insurance. You don’t want to find out it's too late should troubles arise.
Load up on apps for flight delays
A few essential apps to download before your trip. These include LoungeBuddy if you need to find an airport lounge or Wi-Fi access. And, HotelTonight, Expedia and Travelocity can help if you need a cheap airport hotel at the last minute. AirHelp is another essential app. It offers free advice for passenger rights if you’re travelling in Europe.
Pack an essentials bag
If a bad forecast is looming, a small overnight bag can help if you’re stuck at the airport. While some people might think, “I’m already packed”, if you’ve checked your luggage, you might not have the gear you need. Pack a small bag with:
Reap the rewards or head to the lounge
Is the flight attendant announcing flight delays? Or, have they stated they’re overbooked? Ask nicely if the airline is giving out vouchers for people willing to change flights. Sometimes the airlines will pay you hundreds of dollars in travel vouchers to rebook your flight.
If a flight is delayed, ask for access to the airline’s lounge. Or, check the credit card you booked your flight with for travel insurance offered through the credit card carrier. This sometimes includes airport lounge access.
Ready to find the best travel insurance?
Flight delays happen all the time but by preparing ahead of time, your Plan B or plan C can keep you stress-free during your much-needed getaway. With a flight delay, pack your essentials bag, tour the airport and find a good place to eat. If your flight is cancelled, connect with your airline and hotel and use travel insurance to cover your trip.