If you miss a flight due to a late inbound connection, or your flight is significantly delayed then there are some things that the airline may offer you as compensation for the delays. It is important to know what to ask for when these issues arise.
- Why was the flight delayed?
When a delay or misconnection occurs it is important to talk with airline staff about the nature of your delay. The airline will consider the cause of the problem to determine what compensation, if any, they will offer. In all cases the airline will rebook you on the next available flight with seats operated by that airline.
Airlines classify delays into two categories
- Delays outside of the control of the airline
When an airline classifies a delay as out of their control, typically they will not offer compensation. Issues that may cause this type of delays are weather, air traffic control conditions delaying flights, and airport facility issues.
- Delays within the control of the airline
Delays that an airline considers to be in their control are maintenance issues, flight crew availability, cargo, fueling, catering and customer service issues. If the airline determines that your flight falls into one of these categories then you may be entitled to compensation if you are significantly delayed.
There are times where a mix of controllable and uncontrollable factors will cause a flight to be continuously delayed. In these cases the airline would prefer to classify the delay as uncontrollable, but will make a determination based of the airline policy for delay resolution. Often times the reason for the delay may be reclassified after the issue is investigated.
- What will you offer me?
Once you have established the reason for the flight delay then you can ask what the airline will do for you as compensation. Once again, if the airline determines that the delay was out of their control then they will probably not offer you anything but a rebooking, but it would never hurt to ask.
If your flight delay was within the control of the airline then there are several things that they may offer.
- Meal vouchers
- Rebooking on alternate airlines
- Flight credit for future travel
- Shuttle or taxi service if your destination is within driving distance
- Upgraded seats
- Hotel accommodations
When you are getting rebooked, ask if you can get any of these amenities if they apply to you. If the airline is willing to buy you lunch while you wait and give you a better seat on the next flight then it’s a great idea to take it. If there are no flights to your destination on that airline leaving soon then ask if they can book you on another carrier that may get you there sooner than they can.
***Many discount carriers like Southwest and Frontier will not book you on another carrier, and vice versa. If you are traveling on one of these airlines and incur a significant travel delay, you will be stuck with them unless you buy a ticket on another airline***
If there is no way to get to your destination on the same day then the airline may pay for a hotel room for you and book you for the next day. Once you have finalized your new flight plans then ask if you are entitled to additional compensation. If the agent is unable to provide anything additional while you are with them there may be another department that deals with compensation.
Go to the airline website and find the customer feedback or complaint resolution department to make your voice heard. You can also reach the airline on social media platforms like Facebook and twitter. If you are going to petition the airline for additional compensation by issuing a complaint, make sure to be very detailed in your explanation of what happened. Keep a tally of any additional expenses that you incurred and hold on to all receipts for reference.
If you are rebooked for a later flight, the airline will probably have no problem altering your return flight with them. If staying an extra day or two would be beneficial then ask your representative if they can change your times or date of the return flight. This option will typically be available regardless of the cause of delay.
- Find another way
If the airline is unable to get you a flight by the time you need to be at your destination then you may need to find a way on your own. This can be very frustrating, but you may not always have e choice of flights arriving soon enough. Options when this occurs are renting a car, taking a bus, or booking a ticket on another airline out of pocket. If you decide to do any of these things then the airline will be obligated to refund the unused portion of your ticket, regardless of the fare rules. If you have a return flight scheduled with the airline and you do not travel with them to your destination then it is important to notify the airline so they keep your reservation for the return intact. If you fail to show up for a scheduled flight then your reservation for the return may be cancelled. As always, keep a log of additional expenses incurred due to you finding your own way. When you have finalized new plans then you can look to the airline to get compensation for the inconvenience.
- When the trip is Futile
If you are significantly delayed at your point of origin and it no longer makes sense to travel, notify the airline. They should allow you to get a refund for the ticket, or at least use it for a later date of your choice. If you are stranded at a connection point, but the former statement applies then you can request for the airline to send you back home if you would like instead of waiting for an available flight to your original destination. The next flight may be hours or days away. If there are available flights back to your origin then they will probably rebook you.