Flights getting canceled can be incredibly frustrating and inconvenient. It’s important to know how to handle these situations so that you can get the compensation you deserve. In this blog, we will cover what you’re owed, how to get what you’re owed, what to do when you’re not owed anything, and what to do when you realize your flight is delayed or canceled.
Understanding Your Rights
Before diving into the steps you should take when dealing with flight cancellations, it’s crucial to know what you’re eligible for. Factors such as your location, destination, flight distance, and delay length all come into play when determining your eligibility.
In the United States, airline passengers are not as protected compared to other countries. Airlines are usually not required to compensate passengers for canceled or delayed flights. However, they are required to compensate passengers who are bumped from an overbooked flight. Depending on the circumstances, you may be entitled to up to 200-400% of the cost of a one-way ticket, with a maximum compensation of $1,350 for international flights.
While the US may have limited protection for canceled and delayed flights, other countries, such as those in the European Union (EU), offer more extensive regulations. EU Regulation 261 applies to all flights departing from or arriving at EU airports on EU airlines. Understanding these regulations is crucial, as they determine the compensation you may be eligible for in case of delays, cancellations, or other timing issues.
The Importance of Travel Insurance
Due to the lack of protection for flight disruptions in certain countries, travel insurance becomes essential. Apart from covering medical expenses, travel insurance can also cover additional costs incurred due to flight delays or cancellations. These costs may include food, transportation, accommodation, and non-refundable reservations. The coverage varies depending on the policy, so it’s crucial to choose the right one for your specific travel needs. Later in this blog, we’ll discuss the top three travel insurance options for different types of travelers.
Protecting Yourself with Credit Cards
Another way to safeguard against flight delays and cancellations is by using certain credit cards for your flight purchases. Some credit cards offer protection and may even provide access to airport lounges if you experience a delay. To make it easier for you, we will provide a list of recommended credit cards at the end of this blog.
European Union Regulations
The European Union has comprehensive regulations in place to protect passengers in case of flight disruptions. EU Regulation 261 covers flights departing from or arriving at EU airports on EU airlines. These regulations can be complex and confusing, so it’s advisable to research your specific circumstances online. Websites such as AirHelp and Claim Compass provide valuable information and guidance on compensation claims.
How to Get What You’re Owed
Now that we understand our rights and the regulations surrounding flight cancellations, let’s discuss the steps to ensure you receive what you’re owed.
Step 1: Act Quickly
The first priority when facing a flight cancellation is to reach out to customer service immediately. Instead of waiting in line like everyone else, try calling the customer service number or starting a chat conversation while waiting. This allows you to gather information and explore alternative flight options independently.
Step 2: Find Alternative Flights
While waiting for a response from customer service, search for alternative flights to your destination. This way, when you do speak to an agent, you’ll be prepared with options and can avoid wasting time searching for available flights.
Step 3: Understand the Cause
It’s important to determine the cause of the delay or cancellation. This information will help you understand the compensation you may be eligible for later on.
Step 4: Keep All Documentation
It’s essential to keep all travel documents, receipts, emails, and text messages related to your flight experience. This documentation will be necessary when filing for reimbursement. Remember to save receipts for meals, transportation, and accommodation expenses incurred due to the disruption.
Step 5: Request Compensation
If you’re eligible for compensation, make sure to request it. Airlines may provide food, transportation, or accommodation based on their rules. Don’t hesitate to ask, even if you’re unsure about your eligibility. It’s better to inquire and potentially receive assistance than to miss out on compensation you’re entitled to.
Step 6: Read Carefully
Before signing any documents, ensure that you’re not waiving your rights to further compensation. Pay close attention to any offers, especially if you were bumped from a flight. Accepting a voucher without understanding your eligibility for cash compensation could result in missed opportunities. Take a moment to research your rights before agreeing to any offers.
Step 7: Claim Reimbursement
If you don’t have the time or desire to handle the reimbursement claim process yourself, there are companies like AirHelp and Claim Compass that can assist you. These companies specialize in maximizing reimbursement claims and charge a percentage of the compensation you receive. Keep in mind that you can make these claims after the fact, so don’t stress if you can’t handle it immediately.
When You’re Not Owed Anything
In some cases, you may not be eligible for compensation for delays or cancellations. However, airlines will generally rebook your flight or offer a refund. Even if you purchased a non-refundable ticket, it’s worth asking about refund options. Additionally, inquire about any flight restrictions or blackout dates associated with flight vouchers. You can also request to be placed on a flight with a different airline if it means reaching your destination faster. While airlines are not obligated to accommodate these requests, they may do so to maintain customer satisfaction.
Dealing with flight cancellations can be a stressful experience, but knowing your rights and taking the appropriate steps can make the process smoother. Remember to act quickly, gather documentation, and understand your eligibility for compensation. Whether you handle the reimbursement claim process yourself or seek assistance from specialized companies, it’s important to be informed and assertive. By following these guidelines, you can navigate flight disruptions with confidence and ensure you receive what you’re owed.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. Please consult with a professional for personalized assistance regarding your specific situation.