Sanity-Saving Tips for Dealing With Flight Delays

Chances are, if you’ve booked a flight more than once, you’ve been plagued by “flight delays syndrome”. Postponed or tardy flights are frustrating, especially if you have a connecting flight to catch in another airport or if you are in a rush to reach your destination.

Delayed flights happen for a variety of reasons. Most often weather is the culprit.  However, it could also be due to security reasons, a plane malfunction, air traffic, or a busy airport not having enough gates open at landing time.

There are many different reasons why delays occur, some of which are due to the fault of the airline. Other times, such as in the case of weather or a busy airport, it is through no fault of their own. Whatever the reason, it doesn’t make it any less trying when it occurs.

What to do when you find out your flight is delayed

When you hear on an announcement or see on the board your flight has a delay and you have a connecting flight that you’ll miss due to the delay, the first thing you’ll want to do is immediately head to the customer service desk at the gate.

It is important to make arrangements for staff to make other arrangements for your connection. If flights are full, finding another flight is sometimes a challenge; the quicker you pursue a contingency plan the better off your chances are of minimal interruption to your trip due to the delayed flight.

There will be times airlines will want to re-book you with their own flights, but unfortunately this can be hours, or in some extreme cases, an overnight. If this seriously impacts your travel plans, it is a good idea to research other flights available and then insist on getting booked with another airline.

Airline staff may resist, but often if you are assertive enough you can convince them to re-book your delayed flight on another airline and you’ll still make your connection. An alternative is to get your connection re-booked with another airline.  By assertive, we mean -firm but with a smile.  We all know the adage.  You catch more flies with honey and in this case, it will often be spot on!

What do you do when the airline doesn’t want to help you?

If you are met with resistance, firmly explain the reasons why you are in a hurry to get to your connection or destination.  The majority of the time staff will do their best to aid punctuality in your trip. If you’re lucky you may even get a coupon or voucher for your troubles, especially if the delay is the fault of the airline itself.

Also, be realistic about the importance of your delay.  If you are merely going on vacation and its a few less hours you have to spend on the beach, that’s not an urgent situation.  If, however, your delay will cause you to miss a connecting flight or cost you additional fees if you miss a rental pick-up, there’s more urgency to your situation.  Do remember, airline employees don’t wish to handle delays any more than you do and be gracious to them during this difficult time.

What is the responsibility of the airline if your flight has delays?

There are no Federal laws requiring airlines to provide compensation for delayed flights.  Airlines are, however, required to provide you with accurate and up-to-date information on the status of your flight.

Some airlines will issue food vouchers or other compensations if the delay is excessive.  You may also be eligible to receive a full refund if your flight has excessively delays.

Always consult the FAQ page of policies for the airline you are flying for their policies.  Also, visit for more information on flight delays and cancellation policies.

What should you do while your waiting due to flight delays?

The other challenge travelers often experience when flights are delayed is what to do to pass the time. In some instances people aren’t in a rush or there are no other alternatives but to wait. In these cases the only option is patience. Try to make the most of the extra time in the airport.

It is always a good idea to pack some books, magazines or other reading materials when traveling by air.  Use this time to catch up on some of that reading you’ve been wanting to do.  If you didn’t bring a book, the airport generally has plenty of book shops to find a great read.

If you knit or crochet, delayed flights are a great opportunity to get working on that baby blanket or scarf.  Want to get in a little exercise?  Take a walk around the airport.  You’ll often find artwork, shops and displays to explore.

People-watching is another interesting activity. There’s usually a fun place you can grab a bite to eat.  You might also talk to others who are commiserating about their delayed flight, too. There are many constructive or fun ways to pass the time in an airport when necessary.  Keep your mind and your option open!

Delayed flights are annoying, but unfortunately are common occurrence when traveling by air. The best you can do is first ensure your flight arrangements are in order and your travel will be successful.  Secondly, make the most of your time. Take heart in the fact you will get on a flight and get to where you need to be, even if it is a little later than you’d planned.

Tags: travel, travel tips
Barb Webb. Founder and Editor of Rural Mom, is an the author of "Getting Laid" and "Getting Baked". A sustainable living expert nesting in Appalachian Kentucky, when she’s not chasing chickens around the farm or engaging in mock Jedi battles, she’s making tea and writing about country living and artisan culture.
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