Feb 192013

Flight delays and cancellations are the worst nightmares for any traveller. They can result in trip disruptions, ruined vacations, missed connections, missed meetings, missed events and anything else to upset you for a long-time. But, if you plan your trip wisely by keeping some facts in mind, the effect of these delays can be minimize to make your journey comfortable.

Most Airlines categorize the delays mainly in two types: First is Mechanical that mostly include maintenance of the aircraft and Second is other issues like Air Traffic Control congestion, Bad Weather etc.  First type of delays turn out to be in favour of passengers,because in this case, it is generally airlines responsibility to manage re-booking, accommodation, food and alternate arrangements for its customers.  But, Your airline can not control the delays due Air Traffic congestion or due to the bad weather at the departure or arrival airport. Delays or cancellations due to the weather are beyond the human control, so you have to accept them without blaming your airline.  Delays due to operational reasons/technical reasons or due to Air Traffic Control is generally shorter, but delays due to bad weather like fog, sandstorms, volcanic eruptions can be hours long and finally lead to flight cancellations.

Air India Dreamliner Taxiing at Delhi Airport

Air India B-787 Dreamliner Taxiing at Delhi Airport

There are certain things that you have to accept-whether you like it or not and flight delays are one of them. So what to do in the case of Flight Delays or Flight Cancellations? Here are some tips to help you to deal with these delays and cancellations. Remember these points while booking your flight tickets or moving to the airport to ensure the smooth travel in the air:

Booking a departure from weather-affected airport:

1. Avoid booking last hours flight of the day: As far as possible, try to book the early hours flights for departures. If it gets delayed, you have plenty of time to reschedule your day. In case of cancellation also, you have plenty of time to book another flight or to make alternate arrangements. If you book the last flight of the day and it gets delayed, then you may have no choice, but left stranded at the airport.

But, if you are departing from a fog-affected airport like Delhi, try to book your flight on the later half of the day during the foggy weather. In morning, most of the flights get delayed due to the dense fog and ripple effect of delays continue till the afternoon.

2. As far as possible, book a direct flight: Connections always lead to more airports and more flights. If your first flight is delayed, then there is a big chance to miss the subsequent connections. Try to book a direct flight always to your destination, but keep the price differences between direct and connecting flights in the mind. If you book connecting flights, then allow at least 4 hours for the big international airports and 2 hours for small airports. It will give you sufficient time to change the planes at connecting airport.

3. Know your departure airports: You should have an idea about the available modes of transport, hotels and restaurants near to your departure airport, specially during the bad weather. If your flight gets delayed and airlines also left you stranded, then at least you can make your own arrangements.

For example,  if you are departing by Indian Airlines from Delhi Terminal-3, you should be aware that there is an Airport Express Metro link to some parts of the city till 12.00 AM.  Mahipalpur, just 3 kms away from the Terminal-3 has a wide range of hotels and restaurants.

4. Know your connection airports:  Similarly, you should have an idea of your connection airports also. Mostly you will remain in transit areas at connecting airport, but you can avoid those airports during bad weather.

For example, you should avoid Delhi Airport during the foggy weather to make an early morning connection. Similarly, you should know that which airports are more prone to sandstorms, thunderstorms and bad weather during your trip that leads to flight delays.

5. Book airlines with better on-time performance:  Some airlines have a good on-time performances, while others are notorious for frequent flight delays. Always try to book a flight with an airline having a better on-time performance records.

Leaving home to a weather-affected airport:

6. Check the Flight status before leaving the home:  It is always a good practice to check the flight status before leaving home to a weather-affected airport.  Most airlines inform their passengers in advance through an SMS or e-mail in case of flight delays or cancellations, but sometimes they may forget to send an SMS or e-mail, so checking flight status before leaving home saves your precious time as well as helps you to avoid unnecessary inconvenience.

7.  Pack extra sheets: Most Airlines generally provide the accommodation and other facilities in case of long flight delays. But, what if they leave you stranded at the airport? If you are departing from a weather-affected airport, pack one or two extra sheets to make your own arrangements.

8.  Pack some foods : Most Airlines also provide food, snacks and water (Meal Voucher) in case of flight delays, but it may not be the case every time. So, if you are departing from a weather-affected airport, try to bring some packed foods. Airport outlets are normally costlier than downtown city center, so it is better to have your own foods in case you left stranded at the airport.

What to do if Flight gets delayed or cancelled?

9. Know your airlines delays/cancellations policy: You should have an idea of your airlines flight delays/cancellations policy, seat re-booking, alternate arrangements and refunds. Most airlines have this information available on its websites.

10. Know your rights as a customer: You can make all arrangements by yourself without depending on your airline, but as a customer, you should know your rights and airlines obligations. You can demand the facilities that are entitled to you as a passenger if your flight gets delayed or cancelled.

11. Keep handy the important contact numbers: If you are departing from a weather affected airport, it is advisable to make a note of the important contact numbers like any nearby friend, airlines customer care, cab booking number of destination airport etc.

12. If cancelled, re-book immediately: Many airlines operate multiple flights in a day for some destinations. For example, GoAir operates seven flights from Delhi to Mumbai, while IndiGo operates 13 flights between Delhi and Mumbai. So, if first flight gets cancelled, you may get a seat on the next flight without paying a single penny. If your flight get cancelled, re-book immediately on the next available flights to get a confirmed seat. Otherwise, everybody will run for a seat on another flight and you may not get a confirmed ticket.

GoAir Taking-Off from Delhi Airport

GoAir A-320 Taking-Off from Delhi Airport

13.  Behave Nicely:  Your flight is delayed and you are stranded, your trip is ruined or connection is missed, but don’t be furious. You should know that you can not do anything with flight delays and accept this fact. Behave nicely to the airlines customer representative and politely ask for the assistance. They may help you beyond their limits due to your behaviour and may put some extra efforts to make the alternate arrangements.

14. Re-check your arrangements at the destination: In case of flight delays, check your transport and accommodation arrangements at the destination and also inform your host to avoid any inconvenience.

These tips are not here to take you out from the trauma of flight delays and cancellations, but these will certainly help you to cope with them in a better manner.  Happy  Travelling. 🙂

  2 Responses to “How to Handle The Flight Delays/Cancellations?”

  1. Some great advice here, I dare say you’ve had some bad experiences at Delhi Airport? I often find Paris’ Charles De Gaulle is often hit with fog too.

Your Valuable Comments, My Inspirations...