The Ultimate Airport Woe: What Can You Do If Your Flight Is Cancelled?

Travel writer and TV presenter Anthony Bourdain once said that travelling “isn’t always pretty [but] that’s okay; the journey changes you“, and there are few quotes truer than this stellar exploration of what it means to finally get off the sofa. 

Travelling isn’t always about simply hopping on a plane, soaking the sun up on the beach and coming home again with little to no disruptions. Sometimes, travelling can become complicated and never are things more challenging than when your flight is cancelled. Here, we’ll be looking into exactly what you can do to deal with the ugly, uncomfortable, often painful reality that is a flight cancellation, and how it can, in fact, help you change for the better. 

When Can You Claim Compensation? 

The first thing that comes to mind when a flight is cancelled is: how can I claim compensation. Fortunately, the answer is a lot simpler than you may at first think. According to airline passenger rights advocates Flightright, a surprise flight cancellation is easy to gain compensation for, though it is important to point out what we mean by ‘surprise’. Compensation is only available if a flight is cancelled within fourteen days of departure and is not a result of extraordinary circumstances such as a strike or general grounding. If you’re unsure as to whether you’re owed compensation, Flightright keeps a live feed of cancelled flights as well as how much compensation those booked on the plane should be awarded. 

What If You’re Waiting Around For A New Flight? 

Often, when one flight is cancelled, you’ll be given a few options to choose from: 

  • Full reimbursement of how much you paid for your ticket. 
  • A new transport option, such as by plane or train. You can choose to have that now or at a later date. 
  • A return flight to your departure point. 

If you decide to book a new flight and have to wait at the airport for more than two hours for a short-haul flight, or over four hours for a long-haul flight, you should be given food vouchers by the airport. Plus, if the cancellation is outside of the airline’s control, you can sometimes get money back through your travel insurance. 

Unfortunately, things get a little tricky if you end up having to stay somewhere overnight. If the airline you were supposed to be flying with is based in the EU, then they will have to pay for your food and accommodation. However, non-EU airlines will usually only offer a refund and/or alternative flight, not food or accommodation cover. 

What Happens If You Miss A Connection? 

Things don’t get a whole lot better if you miss a connecting flight due to a flight cancellation, especially if you’ve booked with two different airlines (which you should try to avoid when possible). You can, of course, claim compensation on the cancelled flight if it falls within all the boundaries we’ve discussed above, but the second flight will be trickier to gain compensation for. 

Still, the fact that you can be compensated or at the very least refunded for most cancelled flights is fantastic for jet-setters. Hopefully, with this knowledge, you’ll be able to keep the woes, pains and heartbreak of travel down to a minimum! 

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