What's the first thing I should do if my flight is canceled?

What's the first thing I should do if my flight is canceled?

Flight board

If my flight is canceled, the first thing I would do is to talk to the airline agent at the gate. If the airline has canceled the flight the airlines will have to notify passengers on when they can be accommodated on a later flight. On the other hand, if I  decide that I do not want to travel then I ask for a full refund. The airline agent may also offer travel credit for later use. In case the lines are very long to get to the agent, I would try calling the airline customer service directly.

If I find later flight timings are not convenient and I choose not to go, airlines are required by federal law to issue a full refund to me. I would set aside two hours to wait in case the issue is fixed. More particular information regarding their policies can be found on the airline's website in the contract of carriage, which explains the policies. But If I decide to travel, I will stand in line to speak with a gate agent about the alternatives. Typically, in most cases, I'll be placed on the next available flight.

Things you should know:

Knowing the passenger rights ahead of time is essential. However, because the industry is deregulated, these rights might differ from one airline to the next, and contracts of carriage aren't always top of mind when booking a journey.  

Delays and cancellations are divided into two categories: those caused by the airline and those caused by uncontrollable factors. Weather circumstances, labor strikes, and public health emergencies are examples of force majeure for air travel. On Jan 2, 2022, more than 2,500 flights were canceled, according to Flight Aware. Airlines usually renounce liability for schedule changes caused by factors that are out of control, but that doesn't mean you won't be compensated.

Flights at the airport


If at all feasible, book directly with the airline rather than booking through an online travel agent, which may make changing your itinerary more difficult in the event of a cancellation or delay.

Always make sure you have all of the essential travel documents, such as a negative Covid-19 test or proof of vaccination, which are required by many countries.

If my airline has canceled flights, I will be rebooked on a later flight or, if I choose not to fly, I will receive a full refund under federal law. If my flight had many stops, I’d be refunded for the time I didn't spend.

In place of a complete refund, airlines frequently issue travel credits, which are normally valid for one year.

Sprint usually gives travelers a full refund in 24 hours. American Airlines flights have the option of using the credit for the next trip and Southwest has a policy of a full refund for the customers. 

If I decide not to go on a journey, I will usually seek a cash refund instead of a voucher. I find that cash is far more helpful than an airline voucher.
If I choose to take a different flight, I should line up to talk with a gate agent or the customer service desk. While I’m waiting in line, I  will phone the airline or online travel agency where I purchased my flight to see if they can assist me before getting to the gate agent.

Many airlines can have slightly different ways of handling cancellations. For example, If I miss a connecting flight due to a delay, American Airlines will rebook us on the next available trip in the same ticket class. For cancellations, the same policy is applicable; however, if no alternative flights are available or we refuse those options, they will reimburse the remaining ticket value as well as any optional costs.

Flight delays and canceled flights are more prevalent than we can think of. It may happen due to extreme weather, COVID-19 crew shortages, airport construction, and security concerns. In the past years, canceled flights and delayed flights are now a regular thing. Around 281 thousand flights were canceled in 2020 alone. In order to save our time and money, we have to be very careful while booking air tickets. We should check the weather of the departure date in advance to be on the safe side. We should also be aware of the canceled and delayed flights regulations.

Generally, Airlines offer refunds or alternative flight tickets for canceled and delayed flights. Canceled flights southwest and canceled flights American Airlines offer refund easily to the customers.

United airplanes


When to purchase new tickets and continue travel

Getting to the destination on schedule, whether for pleasure or business, is sometimes very important. This may be an important business meeting, getting home in time for holidays, etc. In such cases, you will have to make tough decisions and choose between time and money.

In these cases, the best option is to buy new tickets and travel to your destination instead of waiting for a refund. Sometimes you just have to focus on saving your time and not money. The refund process takes too much time, and you can't waste any of your time.

You would need to decide quickly. If you are uncertain in the midst of delays and cancellations, your travel options will likely vanish, as hundreds of other passengers will beat you to the rebooking if you do not act promptly. If you want to maintain some control over your schedule, weigh your practical possibilities and make a quick decision as per your need. If the journey is important, you should book fresh tickets as soon as possible.

What I do to avoid airport anxiety during delayed or canceled flights

Over the years I have a few ways in which I handle anxiety during such events.


  • Read up on the cancelation policy before travel-I make it a habit to read up on the cancelation policy of the airline before I travel. This allows me to be prepared for cancelation events and know what to ask for.
  • Keep my cool and avoid getting angry at the Agent-Canceled flights create a lot of chaos and people tend to get very angry and usually the agent bears the burnt of it. I try to remind myself that the agent is not the cause and try to politely but firmly get the help I require.
  • Inform people if they are going to wait for me at the destination-I ensure that I message or call the people I have to meet at the destination if the cancellation is going to affect the meeting. I would also call home and let everyone know what's going in so they do not worry.
  • Make the decision in a peaceful mental state-If I have to make a decision on canceling or continuing with the trip, I need to do it without anxiety and stress controlling my decisions So I like to sit quietly for a few minutes and relax my mind before making the decision. 
  • See the event as an adventure-Rather than give in to frustration or anger I try to see this as an adventure and try to get excited at what good experience can come out of it. This allows me to keep my cool.
  • Check airport hotels- Consider your alternatives at airport hotels when planning what to do in the event of a flight delay or cancellation, as they can fill up quickly if there are significant delays or cancellations. It's sometimes preferable to give up on reaching home that day, rest up, and try the next day again. On the whole, airport hotels are reasonably priced, though cash rates can spike during peak periods. Trip delay insurance usually covers one or more of your expenses, including lodging.


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