Avoid Frustration & Stress – 5 Tips for Dealing with Flight Delays

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Dealing with Flight Delays

This is a guest post from Tess at Money Done Right.  I had the pleasure of meeting the owner of the site, Logan, at CardCon a few months ago. Thank you so much Tess for putting this together and be sure to check out Money Done Right for some great personal finance tips.

5 Tips for Dealing with Flight Delays

Most planes leave on time, but regular travelers know that the scheduled departure time is far from a guarantee. At some point, you’ll likely deal with a flight delay or cancellation that affects your schedule. 

Delays can be caused by anything from technical issues to poor weather conditions. Plus, a single can delay can cause countless others.

While flight delays are always inconvenient, there are a few ways to minimize the effects and rethink your plans quickly. This article will cover some of the most effective strategies for dealing with flight delays.

Dealing with Flight Delays

Sign Up for Notifications

Most major airlines offer push notifications, making it easy to get real-time updates on your flight status before you even get to the airport. Without an instant notification, you won’t find out about the delay unless you hear an announcement on the airport intercom or notice a schedule change on the Departures screen.

As a bonus, downloading your airline’s app will give you convenient access to your boarding pass. This can streamline your process through the airport, from the check-in desk to the boarding line.

You can also download dedicated travel apps to view your entire itinerary in a single place, along with confirmation emails and other important documents. It’s important to know exactly where these things are if your flight is delayed.

Learn Your Rights

The majority of delays are resolved within a few hours, but you should know your passenger rights in case of a longer delay. Each airline’s Contract of Carriage describes exactly what your rights are when a flight is delayed or canceled.

Federal regulations require airlines to put you on another flight for free if yours is substantially delayed or canceled, but each airline defines a substantial delay differently. During a longer delay, many airlines will provide meal vouchers, along with a free hotel if you need to stay overnight. Speak to an employee to learn more about your airline’s policies. If they are unwilling to cover it then hopefully you used a credit card with travel protections that will reimburse you.

Flights are regulated differently in the EU, so you may have even more rights if your flight departed from or arrived in an EU country. Simply fill out an official complaint form describing your situation to receive compensation for any delay of more than three hours.

Dealing with Flight Delays

Look for Alternatives

Most people wait for a delay announcement before considering other options, so you can beat the crowd by looking for other possible routes in advance and preparing for a potential delay. 

FlightAware tracks all commercial flights, enabling you to check your plane’s progress and learn about delays in advance.

If you have alternative flights ready when the announcement is made, you can beat other customers to the ticket counter and make new arrangements as soon as possible. Lines grow very quickly following a delay announcement, and it could take you an hour or more simply to book a new flight. You should also call the airlines customer service number while waiting in line in case that gets you help more quickly.

Wait in the Airline Lounge

Airport terminals aren’t exactly a relaxing place to wait out a flight delay, but lounges are surprisingly comfortable. Certain credit cards offer automatic lounge access, but you can also buy one-day passes if you need a place to hang out and use the WiFi.

In addition to feeling more comfortable, airport lounges also give you access to airline employees who probably have more time to help you than the staff at the gate. They might be willing to help you look for the next available flight and avoid waiting in line.

Dealing with Flight Delays

Mention Your Airline on Twitter

Like lounge employees, your airline’s social media manager knows how the company works and might be able to assist you. Some airlines check social media in real time to respond to inquiries and offer immediate customer service.

While Twitter is the most common social media platform for quick questions, you can also look for your airline’s Facebook profile and post to its page or private message them. Your success will depend on the specific airline, but this is a great way to get help quickly if there are long lines at the ticket counter.

The Bottom Line

Flight delays can cause a major change of plans, but you can get back on schedule quickly if you’re prepared when dealing with flight delays or cancellations. These tips will help you minimize the effects of any future delays and get you to your final destination as soon as possible.

Thank you again to Tess and the Money Done Right team for putting these awesome tips together for us.

Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

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  1. The # 1 way to minimize delays or cancellations is not to book on airlines that have the worst online performance or have high cancellation rates. The DOT publishes an AIR TRAVEL CONSUMER REPORT each month, and according to the latest report, Frontier and JetBlue have the worst on time performance of all the airlines in 2019. So if you want to minimize the chance of delays or cancellations, stay away from those 2 airlines. Also, JetBlue has a policy of cancelling flights in advance of inclement weather even if it is not guaranteed that the storm will hit. So you have a much better chance of getting a cancellation from JetBlue for ” inclement weather” than any of the other airlines.

  2. I think “look for alternatives” is the most important one, and I always try to do what everyone else is NOT doing. A few years ago my flight from Frankfurt to Berlin was canceled along with many others because of weather. Huge lines at Lufthansa’s counters. So I walked over to the self-service kiosk, and it instantly gave me vouchers for the train. I was on the train probably before the people waiting in line even got to speak to a Lufthansa rep.

    • Yes – great tip 02nz. I think going against the pack works in most things. And the knowledge we have helps us immensely in these situations where most people don’t know anything else but just waiting in lines.


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