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Travel | Traveling
Tips For Handling A Delayed Or Canceled Flight


The increasing demand for leisure travel in recent months has been extremely difficult for airlines. With a shortage of airport and security operation staff, pilots, summer thunderstorms, and restrictive FAA actions, travel has been a challenging experience for many. The lucky are faced with hours in long lines. The unlucky are left with rolling flight delays or cancellations. For example, over one weekend in June 2022, nearly 14,000 flights were canceled or delayed "within, out of, or into the U.S." If your plans to include flying, be proactive and ensure you are prepared to respond to delays and cancellations.
Waiting to board

Get to your destination as directly as possible. Even if the ticket costs more, consider a nonstop flight. Also, opt for a flight earlier in the day for two reasons. First, weather events are more common in the afternoon. Second, for the first flight of the day, the airplane is likely already parked at the airport, so you don't have to worry about the plane you're scheduled to fly on not arriving.

Check your flight status frequently. Download the airline's app to your phone and turn on push notifications so you receive alerts about any changes—sometimes even before gate agents make announcements. You can also use the app to monitor the status of your inbound aircraft and get a heads-up on potential delays.
Book your flight directly on the airline's website or with a travel agent to ensure a smooth customer service experience and in case something goes wrong. Avoid discount websites or online travel agencies, as in many cases, changes have to be handled through these groups rather than directly with the airline.
Cancelled flights

Airlines will often issue travel waivers ahead of anticipated bad weather or, as seen recently, if they expect to be overwhelmed. This is your opportunity to consider if you really need to travel on the specific dates you booked. You can usually reschedule flights to depart or arrive a few days earlier or later and avoid paying fare differences. As long as your destination remains unchanged, this can be a helpful way to get a nonstop or more timely flight.


Before you head to the airport, write down the flight numbers and times of flights you could alternatively take to get where you need to go. This is another good reason to fly in the morning as you will have more options to fix problems throughout the day. In this case, don't only consider nonstop flights. Instead, search flights with connections, including ones in different regions of the country where weather is likely different. Also, consider nearby airports that may be a short car ride away from your desired destination.

Sleep at airport

If your flight gets canceled, try to get help in various ways. First, by all means, get in line to speak with a customer service agent,—in the airline's club lounges if you have access. At the same time, take the following actions.

Check the airline's app or website, as you may have been automatically rebooked. Review any changes and attempt to rebook yourself if you can.
Call the airline at the specific phone number for flight statuses or changes. Try using international call center numbers where you may experience a shorter hold time. If you are a rewards or club member with an airline, use the preferred number associated with your membership.
Reach out to the airline on social media. Agents are responsive on Twitter and Facebook and wait times for help can be shorter.
When you get help from an airline representative, don't just tell the person your flight was canceled. Ask them to consider your pre-planned options.