How to be prepared for flight delays when they occur?

February 25, 2023
When travelers encounter flight delays, they now have more recourse for compensation from the airlines.  But, if you read your airline ticket’s fine print, you will note that arrival times are not guaranteed, and delays often occur.  Issues such as weather, staffing, mechanical issues, and many other factors can affect flight schedules and cause delays.  Airlines are not required to provide compensation outside airline tickets and associated fees.  Services such as food vouchers, hotel vouchers, and ground transportation should not be expected.  But planning for the often inevitable flight delay will help.  Here are a few tips.

Keep updated with the airline app or opt-in to text or email alerts.  Airlines are required to provide passengers with information about flight delays.  If you learn of a delay in your flight, try to arrange another flight with the airline as soon as possible.  You can be sure that other passengers will also be considering their flight options.  First, check to ensure no change fee is associated with your ticket.  If there is, the change fee may be waived depending on the reason for the flight delay.  You can ask the airline to transfer your ticket if there is a flight option with another airline.  There is no guarantee that they will transfer your ticket to another airline, but if you have the information available, the agent will appreciate you giving them the options.

Try to buy non-stop flights.  There is a difference between non-stop and direct flights.  Non-stop flights, as the name suggests, will not have stops, but direct flights may have stopovers.  Non-stop flights will also have less flight time; in case of a flight delay, you will merely have a later arrival.  Most importantly, you can’t miss a connection if you don’t have one, and non-stop flights can be priced as competitively as other flight options.  Additionally, flights with stops carry more opportunities for mechanical or other delays.  These flight delays may make you miss your connection or delay your travel overnight.  This can be extremely frustrating if you are traveling on the day of an event like a wedding or departing on a cruise.

Choose early morning flights.  Although often inconvenient, early morning flights are most often on time.  Airlines plan their schedules around the first flight in the morning, and a delay in the first flight will have ripple effects throughout the day.  Chances are that the plane will have been sitting overnight and be available for an on-time departure.  Additionally, early morning flights are less expensive than other times throughout the day.  Another great perk of an early morning flight is that the aircraft is often cleaner because it may have been serviced overnight rather than a quick clean between flights.

Have airline customer service numbers with you.  If there is a delay, passengers often rush to the airport service counters to make arrangements.  You can take the additional step of calling the airline.  You can usually get through to someone faster than waiting in line for two or three agents trying to handle hundreds of passengers.  Be prepared and have all your flight information handy such as record locators or ticket numbers, if you are traveling on different airlines.  Additionally, try customer service numbers in different countries.  Often airlines have offices worldwide, and if in a different location, the customer service agents may not be as swamped as local agents.

I hope you find these tips helpful and they make you a bit more prepared for your next delayed travel.


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