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Flight Cancellation Tips

Every air traveler’s nightmare is a cancelled flight. However, most of us will have this experience at least once during our lives. Having the right information can help you to get through this insurmountable travel inconvenience with little or no emotional scaring.

First and foremost…REMAIN CALM

Remember your travel woes are not the fault of the ticket agent. Getting angry and demanding will only lessen your chances of getting satisfactory accommodations from the airline. In fact, people who have been polite when dealing with the airline ticket agent have been known to get “inconvenience compensation.” To find out if your carrier offers this benefit, simply ask. If the answer is “yes” the compensation will usually come in the form of a discount ticket voucher. The amount will depend on the amount of the original ticket price.

When you are speaking to the ticket agent, always request a flight on a competing carrier. Your original carrier’s flights will be booked up quickly by other passengers, either in line or by phone. However, if you take the time to stand in line and have the ticket agent transfer your ticket electronically to another carrier, you will be less likely to get bumped from the new flight due to overbooking. In fact it is a good idea to bring a list of other airlines schedules and flight numbers with you to assist the agent if your flight gets cancelled. Remember the more kind and helpful you are to the agent, the more kind and helpful they will be to you.

If you able to get another flight make sure you know where your luggage is, how it will get to you and at what cost. If you don’t make arrangements you may find yourself spending most of your travel budget buying new clothes. It’s always a good idea to pack at least one outfit in your carry-on luggage, just in case. 

Be diligent in finding out why the flight was cancelled

If a flight is delayed due to mechanical or other carrier caused reasons, you are entitled to more compensation. If it is caused by weather or other “acts of God” you may find that the airline’s policies grant you little or no compensation.

The federal government has long been known for bailing out airlines. Things are no different now that there is a fuel crisis in America. Many flights are now being cancelled or rescheduled due to mandated fuel conservation. This means, if the airline hasn’t booked enough passengers on the flight to pull a profit, they can cancel the flight, no questions asked. However, it does not mean that they are not responsible to compensate you for your inconvenience and trouble. Many airlines have led passengers to believe that the flight was cancelled due to weather when if fact it was lack of bookings. If other carriers are still flying to your destination, go further up the chain of command to someone who will provide you with the real reason; as well as the correct compensation for the cancellation.

Rule “240”

Most commonly called Rule 240, is the part of the carrier’s contract with you that covers incidences of flight cancellation or delay and what compensations are available to passengers. However, ticket agents will not know what you are requesting if you ask for Rule 240 compensation. This is not because the agents have not been informed of this rule; it is that each airline has its own rule number. For instance, American Airlines calls theirs Rule 218. Whatever they call it, every airline has a rule covering cancelled and delayed flights. You should be able to find this information on their website. Search for “cancellation, delays, aircraft changes rule” on their main page. If you can’t find it there, contact the airline by phone or email to request a copy of their particular rule. Then don’t leave home without it. It could mean the difference between have a having a free room for the night or a seat in the terminal overnight.   

Where can you be reached?

When booking your flight always give them the telephone number where you are most likely to receive a call or hear any messages they might leave. Most commercial airlines will attempt to contact passengers if they know in advance that a flight will be cancelled.

Always contact the airline before you leave for the airport to see if your flight has been delayed or cancelled. That way you don’t make a wasted trip, and you can contact a ticket agent to make other arrangements if needed. You can check for flight delays or cancellations by either phone or on the carrier’s web page.

Other helpful hits:

  • Let ticket agents know all connecting flight information prior to rebooking
  • Ask for a full refund if forced to land at a different airport than booked
  • Always book flights with a Credit Card so if the airline goes out of business you are protected by the Fair Billing Act
  • Ask if you be charged any penalty fee for rebooking a delayed flight

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