Air travel is stressful enough as it is without any delays or cancellations. If you have been traveling recently or even trolling CNN for stories other than politics, then you might have noticed Delta's recent problems. On Monday, August 8th Delta experienced an extreme power outage in Atlanta which grounded all of their morning flights. Even after their flights resumed, Delta cancelled many flights over the next few days. Customers with cancelled flights had to scramble to either find alternative flights or overnight lodging. Since cancellations of this scale are rare, many of the affected travellers did not know how to handle the situation. Here are some tips for if you ever experience a flight cancellation.
1. Be patient
Whenever a flight gets cancelled it is important to remember that the customer service staff working for the airlines are people too, so don't yell at them or be rude. It's not their fault that the weather is bad or that the plane has maintenance issues, or that there was a power outage. Just be patient and wait your turn in line with all the other passengers. Realize that it may take some time for the staff to offer you an alternative flight or lodging for the night. Also the nicer you are to the customer service people the more likely they are to help you.
2. Call the airline
While waiting in line to speak to the airline desk attendants, call the airline. It is more likely that you will speak to someone on the phone before you get to the front of the line. If you know of your flight cancellation before you get to the airport, then it is incredibly important that you call the airline immediately. There is no reason to get to the airport, check your bags, and go through security, just to wait in line to find out the same information that you can get on the phone.
3. Be prepared to spend the night
If you have a late flight cancellation or are flying out of a smaller airport (Key West for example), then it might be impossible to get on a flight until the next day. When this happens, it is best to wait calmly for hotel vouchers or find yourself a hotel for the night.
4. Keep necessary medicines with you
This tip is for before you travel. Always keep important medicines in your carry-on. If your flight gets cancelled, it may be hard to get ahold of your luggage. If you pack your medications in your checked baggage, then you might find yourself without critical medicine. If you can't get your luggage and you are going to be stuck somewhere for several days, know that you can call your local pharmacy to get your prescription filled wherever you are.
5. Ask for compensation but be nice
When your flight gets cancelled, hotels, food, lost vacation time, and other incidentals can get expensive. Airlines realize that delays and cancellations can put a strain on vacations with a budget. Airlines are not required to give customers any compensation for cancellations, but many airlines will as a sign of good customer service. However, just like I said earlier, you need to be nice when you ask for compensation. Trust me when I say that the nicer you are to customer service, the more likely it is they will help you.
You can't stop your flight from being cancelled, so accept it when it happens and relax. Read a book, check facebook, watch stupid videos on youtube, etc. Find something to occupy your time and just wait for this unfortunate incident to pass.
Life happens, and sometimes this means that your flight will be cancelled. When this happens, take a deep breath and heed these tips. If you do, your experience will be much better than if you don't.