What If My Flight is Delayed or Canceled?

Air transportation delays and cancellations are a surprisingly common travel blunder, and they are often disruptive and frustrating for those traveling. If your flight is delayed or canceled, it is really helpful to understand what to do first, what your rights are, & what you can do to get on your way as soon as possible.

7 Tips on What to Do When Your Flight is Delayed or Canceled

#1 Stay Calm & Carry On

Those memes might have faded, but the truth is, it’s easy to stress out when your flight is delayed or canceled, but that won’t help you and so, it’s important to stay calm. Panicking will only make it more difficult to think clearly.

#2 Talk to Your Travel Professional

If you’ve booked your trip, including airfare, with a travel professional, you should make sure they know right away in case they have not been made aware yet of your flight’s status. They can help you navigate this situation, and that’s part of our job!

#3 Keep Tabs on the Flight

Using the airline’s app or website, keep an eye on your flight. This is the best way to get the most up-to-date information on your flight status. You could also use the app or website to rebook your flight, if necessary.

Reach out to the airline customer service as well. If the phone is a long hold time, try messaging them on social media or chatting with them on their website.

#3 Wait & Be Nice

Having in mind that a delay or cancellation has occurred, it may take a bit of time for the airline to rebook your flight or to compensate you for the delay or cancellation. Though it can be hard, try to be patient and understanding. Remember those folks who work at the airline are people, too. Be nice to the staff. They are most likely doing everything they can to assist everyone in a difficult situation. Remember that they’re not responsible for the delay or cancellation, and they have experienced this many times before.

#4 See it as an Opportunity

Use this time to your advantage. If you have some time to spend waiting, consider exploring the airport or the local area. You could possibly be able to get a free upgrade or a discount on your next flight!

If you’re open to being flexible, consider rebooking on a different flight or even taking a different mode of transportation.

Make the most of your situation by trying new restaurants or meeting new people while you wait.

#5 Visit the Airline Lounge

Delta Sky Club Lounge, Miami, courtesy of miami-airport.com

If you have access to one, airline lounges are a fabulous place to wait. United Club, Delta Sky Club, among others, and 3rd party spaces like the American Express Centurion Lounge are excellent places with less crowds and more comfort.

#6 File a Claim

If you have travel insurance (which I always recommend), give them a call to see about your coverage. Your travel insurance may cover the cost of your delay or cancellation, as well as any other expenses you incur, such as hotel accommodation and meals. It really depends on how long you’re delayed, whether you need to rebook or not, and what the policy covers.

Be prepared to spend some money up front. If you’re stuck overnight at the airport, you may need to pre-pay for a hotel room and food. You may also need to cover the cost of transportation to your new destination if your flight is canceled. Keep all those receipts and this is another great reason to always use travel insurance.

#7 Know your rights

Passengers may have certain rights when their flights are delayed or canceled. Learn more about what the U.S. Department of Transportation has to say about this by clicking here, and also check your airline’s policy for more details.

Bonus tips:

  • If you’re really stuck, try offering the airline staff with chocolate or candy. It may not help, but it’s worth a shot!
  • Try to laugh off the situation. It is just a flight delay or cancellation, after all. It’s not the end of the world.
  • Bring entertainment just in case! A book or download a movie can keep you entertained during a flight delay.


Flight delays and cancellations can be inconvenient and frustrating, but they do not have to ruin your travel plans. By knowing your rights and taking the steps outlined in this article, you can minimize the disruption to your travel and get to your destination as quickly as possible.

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