No one likes it when their flight gets delayed or canceled. We get it. That’s why we’ve partnered with Keryn Means of Walking On Travels to give us a few tips and answers to get you through the mess of rebooking and figuring out what to do with your time when the unfortunate happens.

Flights get delayed. Even worse, flights get canceled. Sadly, there isn’t much you can do about either as a passenger, but what you can control is how you respond to the situation. Let’s dive right into what to do when flights get canceled, so you can stop the panic and embrace the calm.

No plane at airport Gate

Photo credit: Keryn Means/Walking On Travels

Why Do Flights Get Canceled?

The first thing you need to know is WHY your flight got canceled. The two biggest reasons are weather and equipment failure. You can get mad all you want, but when your rational brain thinks about it, do you really want to be in the sky in a broken plane that could crash? Do you actually want your plane to be struck by lightning or tossed around in strong winds? Airlines and control towers don’t cancel your flight to torture you. Trust me, it is more of a headache for them to rebook an entire flight than it is for you to be delayed a day. They really do want to get you to where you need to go.

Other reasons your flight can get canceled include flight crews timing out, which can happen when a flight is delayed. Usually this means the crew has been working so long that day that they cannot safely fly you to your destination. Just like you don’t want a doctor operating on you if they have been working more than eight to 12 hours, you really don’t want that pilot falling asleep at the controls when he is flying you home.

No plane at airport Gate Photo credit Keryn Means/ Walking On Travels

Photo credit: Keryn Means/Walking On Travels

What To Do When Your Flight is Canceled?

Stay calm. Do not start screaming at the ground crew. Yes, you are frustrated. It is not the gal at the desk’s fault that someone at the airline made this call. All she wants to do is get home to tuck in her kids. Instead, she now has to work late to rebook you.

Smile. Everyone is more apt to help someone who is kind to them and smiles at them, especially in an airport. Airline staff get yelled at a lot. Be the person who shows them patience and kindness and chances are they will show it back.

Get on the phone ASAP! Yes, get in the customer service line you were just directed toward, but get on the phone with the airline while you are in that line. Customer service agents on the phone can help you much more quickly and just as easily as the ground staff. Sometimes they can see the broader picture faster than the ground crew, too. They haven’t been yelled at by the ten people in front of you either. Stay calm, explain the situation and let them know what you need.

Understand your rebooking options. Normal flight rebooking protocol is to get you on the first available flight that can get you home. This could mean a connecting flight when your original flight was nonstop. Keep this in mind when rebooking. If you want a nonstop flight home, be ready to get home the next day or later the same day. You need to be flexible if you have stipulations to how you want to fly. If you are dealing with a canceled flight while traveling with kids, you need to be even more flexible.

No plane at airport Gate Photo credit Keryn Means/ Walking On Travels

Photo credit: Keryn Means/Walking On Travels

Meals and Hotel Reimbursements

If your flight is canceled, the airline may give you meal or hotel vouchers. This can be a tricky business. Sometimes the airline offers it up. Other times you have to ask for it. If the cancellation is due to weather, the airline will claim they owe you nothing. If it is mechanical, they should give you a night at a hotel. Pay close attention to why your flight is canceled. Even if the weather knocked out the computer system, you may be able to claim mechanical issues. It doesn’t hurt to ask.

You Just Scored Extra Free Time

OK, so your flight has been canceled. You now might have a lot of time on your hands. Find the airport information counter. Ask about transportation options into town. Grab a meal at a local restaurant, do a little shopping, catch the latest exhibit at a museum or walk around downtown. Just make sure you get out and explore! Don’t look at this as the airline taking down your trip or delaying your journey home. Look at it as a new adventure.

If you are delayed while trying to get out of your home airport, use this time to do a little hometown exploring. Don’t just go home and do chores. Head to that restaurant you’ve always wanted to try, take the kids to the art museum and discover the local history of your city. There is no reason to be down right now. You can always find something fun to do with the right mindset!

Keryn Means is an official Travelocity Gnational Gnomad. Gnational Gnomads is an exclusive group of high-profile travel and lifestyle experts who offer tips and inspiration on behalf of Travelocity. For more information on the Travelocity Gnomads, visit travelocitygnomads.com.

Travelocity compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site; such compensation may include travel and other costs.

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