Air Travel Board showing closed gates

(August 2022)

Last week while traveling on business, a flight was oversold due to a change in aircraft and the airline needed to rebook 17 travelers. They started offering gift cards – not airline vouchers – if the traveler wanted to take a later flight. Within 10 minutes, the offers escalated to offering the traveler a free rideshare to a nearby city along with a first class ticket and $700 gift card. Moments later, the offer increased to $1,000. The notion of being offered credits for flexibility in flights is nothing new – but the magnitude by way of frequency of offers being made, and the amount of the incentive most certainly is.

Another situation was when a traveler was flying from LAX to Austin on Southwest. Thunderstorms impacted the ability to land, and the flight was diverted to San Antonio. Sounds simple enough, but when the airline doesn’t fly from San Antonio to Austin – the carrier advised the travelers they would pay for a rental car and refund the entire cost of their ticket. Unfortunately, all rental cars were sold out at the airport. To support our travelers when disruptions occur, we have outlined the following best practices and recommendations.

When should you arrive at the airport if your flight is delayed?

When flights are delayed either by ground stops due to weather or delays with the arriving aircraft, it is difficult to estimate when the actual flight will be taking off. Eve if your flight shows as delayed in your airline or flight notification app, it can be subject to change. It’s best to be at the airport ready to go at the originally scheduled time in most cases.

Weather changes frequently and as soon as it improves, the ground stop can be lifted  and airlines try to get their flights off the ground as soon as possible.

Should I arrive early and try to Stand-by if I know my booked flight is delayed?

If you know in advance that your flight is canceled or delayed, heading to the airport early to stand-by for an alternative flight is always an option. Before doing so, it is important to view the seat availability to ensure the flight is not sold out or has limited seat options. If you do plan to standby, it is best to do so with a carrier that you have elite status as this will assist with your priority in the queue, as well as avoid checking any baggage.

What if I decide to not fly due to the major delays and cancellations?

If you decide to cancel your entire trip due to the delays, request to get your money or loyalty points back, rather than airline vouchers that may be hard to use and eventually expire. Some carriers provide online cancel and refund options through their app. If not, you can ask the airline employee for assistance in person or over the phone – just be sure to cancel the your original flight before its eventual departure so that you have the best chance of getting your money or miles returned.

Are there any guarantees for a refund if my flight is canceled or delayed?

The U.S. federal law requires airlines to compensate passengers who cancel their trip altogether in response to a canceled flight. However, for delays, there are no guarantees for compensation, nor are there consistent management of hotel, food or rental car vouchers. For delays, the airlines are dependent on the Department of Transportation to determine whether a delayed flight ‘warrants’ a refund and is decided on a case-by-case basis.

It is always recommended to contact the airline and request compensation. If you are a rewards member with the carrier, this may encourage further compensation to ensure your continued loyalty.

Should I call the airline or Travel Inc. to support me when there is a delay?

Airlines are required to rebook all travelers on the next flight where there is availability if a flight is canceled. Unfortunately, the next flight may not be on the same day and may not be convenient for you. In this case, you can contact Travel Incorporated to identify what alternative airlines may have flights available, and what options there are for you if you need to stay an extra night and require hotel accommodations. To support you, we have provided this easy infographic to assist your travelers with the best options for booking support.

Air Disruptions Infographic
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