As if traveling isn’t stressful enough, cancellations, delays and lost bags can make it practically unbearable. The best thing anyone can do when faced with these obstacles is to remain calm. Anger and panic are counterproductive and can add more stress to the situation. Plus, everyone’s grandmother is right. Honey attracts more flies than vinegar.
Here are a few ideas to help get through those times when travel goes wrong.
The flight gets delayed or canceled.
- Access the airline’s Contract of Carriage from their website. It lists their obligations to passengers when there are delays or cancellations.
- Find out the cause of the issue. If it’s caused by airplane maintenance or is crew-related, the airline is at fault and should cover the expense for meals and hotel. They can also rebook the traveler on another carrier if necessary. If it’s weather or air traffic related, they are not at fault and will not cover the cost for hotel or meals. However, they may provide passengers with traveler-friendly hotel recommendations.
- Be sure to request a “Distressed Passenger” rate at any hotel when experiencing a flight delay or cancellation.
- Remember, no matter the cause or reason, the airlines will do everything they can to get their passengers to their destinations. So be nice.
The airline loses or damages your baggage.
- If there is an itinerary change, be sure all bags are rechecked to the same flight. Most times this happens automatically but do not assume it will.
- At the bottom of the boarding card, the number of checked bags should be indicated. Make sure it is correct. Many airline apps allow passengers to track bags from a device. Be sure to download the app before traveling to avoid spotty connection problems.
- For passengers whose bags are not there when they arrive, they probably just didn’t make the flight. Typically that means these passengers will have to complete a claim at their final destination inside the baggage claim office. The airlines should cover the cost of delivery. Allow for 12-24 hours for delivery depending on location. If bags are not returned by the specified time, passengers can be reimbursed for reasonable purchases of personal items.
- Damaged bags should also be reported to the baggage claim office upon discovery. Airlines can sometimes replace bags immediately with a similar bag. They may also allow passengers to complete a claim form for the cost of repairs up to a certain amount. The same goes for strollers and baby carriers.
The flight is overbooked.
- Overbooked flights happen when the airline sells more tickets than there are seats on the plane, the flight has changed to a smaller plane, or when there is a weight restriction caused by heavy cargo or runway conditions at the destination airport. Overbooked passengers can be denied boarding if they don’t have an assigned seat on a full flight. To avoid this, make sure seats are selected during booking or check in for the flight as early as possible.
- It’s very unlikely for an airline to deny boarding to a family, but it can happen. Most likely that family will be compensated and rebooked on the next available flight. Review the Contract of Carriage to make sure the carrier is playing by the rules they set. And make sure to model a good attitude if this does happen when traveling with kids in tow.
Traveling can be fantastic but it can be physically and emotionally difficult, especially when there are complications. To limit risks, travel insurance might be worthwhile to purchase. The fees are small compared to the unexpected expenses incurred when things go wrong. With or without insurance, try to be as prepared as possible. Then hope for the best, relax and enjoy the journey.
For more travel tips and suggestions check out MyMommyFlies.com.