Know Your Rights! Your Protection From Delayed and Canceled Flights

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Daniel is a copywriter who has well and truly been bitten alive by the 'travel bug'. After ticking off several North American National Parks and exploring Europe by train, his sights are now set on South East Asia. Usually with at least one camera locked and loaded, you'll find Daniel wherever there are mountains, lakes or beaches.

Recently the world has seen an uptick in delayed and canceled flights. From heatwaves to strikes, many travelers are finding themselves stuck in terminals, on the runway, or in some cases, not even making it to the airport.

But do you know your rights when it comes to canceled or delayed flights? Read on to find out what you can do to protect yourself and those you are traveling with.

Delayed and Canceled Flights
Image Credit: Canva.

What’s With All These Flight Interruptions?

Some recent data from FlightAware shows an average of 30,000 flights per day globally are delayed, that includes 7,000 to 9,000 flights coming from the U.S. 

So, what gives? Well, it seems the aviation industry has found itself in a perfect storm. From dangerous weather to disgruntled employees to re-established pre-COVID travel levels, airlines are struggling to stay above the clouds when it comes to avoiding delays and cancelations.

Advancing technology is also holding back some aircrafts. With the rolling out of 5G systems, airlines have been forced to adapt. Fears around signaling issues have caused many airlines to upgrade their radio altimeters to avoid interference. Most major companies have complied, but Delta and JetBlue are behind on their upgrades, which could have a domino effect on both delays and cancelations.

What Can You Do?

Like most things in life, the solution is sadly not as simple as we would all hope. Various factors will be at play, including the reasoning for the interruption and the airline. However, when it comes to complete cancelations, the ball is in your court.

Federal law requires airlines to give a full refund, including ticket prices, taxes, and baggage fees, to all passengers if a flight is canceled. You will receive that refund within seven business days if paid by credit card and within three weeks if paid by cash or check.

Beware! The airline may offer you vouchers or rebookings; if you take this you won’t be entitled to any other refund.

You aren’t supported by the law when it comes to other incurred costs such as hotel bookings or food. This is where you will need to exercise your power of persuasion. Airlines can and sometimes do offer out financial support if the interruption is their fault. You can only ask!

If you want a greater level of peace of mind, it’s time to look into a more comprehensive level of protection…

Travel Insurance

Now you know you’re covered if your flight is canceled, but what about if there’s a delay and you have to fork out for hotels, food, and other transport costs?

Well, the airline won’t likely help you out there. There is no law that requires airlines to offer compensation to passengers for delays. So, it’s time to consider travel insurance!

Think of travel insurance as ‘the grown-up in the room’, something you can turn to when everything seems out of your control, and you are wandering aimlessly. As a slight caveat, not all travel insurance policies are made equally. You will want to actually read the T&Cs to make sure there are no sneaky clauses hidden in there. 

Once you’ve shopped around and found the right policy, you can rest easy knowing you’re in safe hands. Cancelation? Delay? No problem (well, other than your vacation potentially being ruined), but you will get the financial support you need.

Other Top Tips

Rarely will flight interruptions be your fault, but there are a few things you can do to reduce your chance of being a victim of them.

Taking the first flight of the day is a surefire way of avoiding disruption. With no backlog of aircraft, your time in the sky should be a lot smoother. Plus, if there is an issue, you are far more likely to find another flight that very day. On that last point, pick an airline that has several flights to your destination per day.

And finally, steer clear of connecting flights. It’s simple math – two flights = two times more likely to come across an issue.

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