Dealing with flight delays…. It can be frustrating and difficult. Everyone wants to be somewhere or else they wouldn’t be at the airport!
As I type this post, I am into hour 4 of a flight delay, due to weather. A lot of people are confused what can I do if my flight is delayed? Well let me break it down for you.
You Can’t Control the Weather
Guess what? You can’t control the weather and neither can the airlines.
Think exactly how this majestic feat of engineering is accomplished to get this incredibly heavy object airborne and allow you to travel thousands of miles in just a few hours. Think about the physics of this for a minute. There is a combination of thrust, lift, and aerodynamics (and I’m sure about a 100,000 other factors) that allow it to get airborne.
You do not want to mess with this. An airline is not going to risk it’s precious cargo and not to mention reputation for flying in unsafe conditions. I think we can all appreciate that. As soon as we step onto that airplane, our lives become the responsibility of the pilot. The pilot does not want to risk our lives, as well as the possibility of damage to this multi-million dollar aircraft.
The point of this, you DO NOT want to fly in poor weather conditions.
Thunderstorms Make For a Bumpy Ride
To elaborate on NOT flying during poor weather conditions. Imagine what it would really be like if you were to fly through a thunderstorm.
The number 1 thing that you would notice: turbulence. I don’t mean a little bit of a bumpy ride. I am talking about dropping a thousand feet like you are on a roller coaster that just went off it’s track. I am not trying to scare you, just that there is a reason why planes go AROUND thunderstorms.
A thunderstorm is made when cool air meets warm air, these storms create pockets of air and when the plane hits these pockets, it gets thrown around. Ever been on a turbulent flight that made you ill? This would be worse.
Be appreciative that the airline cancelled your flight instead of subjecting you to this.
Snowstorms Make Landing and Taking Off Dangerous
Snow can be ok, as long as it is landing at a consistent, slow rate. The snow removal crews can keep up with it, but delays may be added due to the fact that airplanes will accumulate ice on their wings. This ice causes the plane to get heavier and mess with the general aerodynamics. Remember earlier, how we discussed the basic dynamics of how the plane gets in the air? Let them de-ice the plane.
Snow can create a very hazardous condition to take off and land. You want the plane to travel down its path as expected and not get thrown around by icy or snowy conditions.
Weather Delays are Not the Airlines Fault – So They Don’t Have to Compensate You
Since weather is completely out of their control, they do not have to compensate you. All they will do is book you on the next available flight.
However, they will refund you for your flight. Sometimes if I can’t get on a flight for a day or two, and my destination is within 8 hours of my originating flight, I will take the refund and get a rental car. Yes, it is inconvenient, however, I will get there quicker than waiting for that next flight.
Mechanical Issues – You Will Be Compensated
Yes, if the airline experiences mechanical problems, you can get them to provide you with a hotel room for the evening as well as food vouchers. They will not tell you this up front! You have to ask!
So, if your flight gets cancelled, or delayed and you miss your connection, make sure that you make them provide the hotel and food vouchers.
The 1-800 number for the airline will NOT help you with this. You need to go to the customer service kiosk inside of the airport.
How Do I Deal With These Issues?
Bargaining is not going to help. Everyone else is in the exact same boat as you. There are people that need to get to that destination for all different reasons, and they all want to be bumped up.
Ask if you can add a connecting flight to get to your destination? Maybe you live fairly close to a different airport? Those are the only bargaining techniques worthwhile. Anything else, might get you called to security.
Be the front of the line for cancellations, make sure that you download the Airline App that you are flying with and set up alerts for your flight.
Track the inbound airplane by tracking your flight on flightaware.com and then click “Where is my plane now?”
In the event of these really long delays, kick back read a book, get some work done, shut your eyes, walk around check out the airport shops (my weakness).
Everyone is just as irritated as you, these are out of your control. Pack your patience, no matter how frustrating it can be.