Stranded at the airport due to a cancelled flight, like the Singaporeans who were recently trapped in Bali due to the eruption of Mount Agung? Fallen victim to the flight-cancelling antics of budget airlines yet again?
Well, you’ll soon learn the hard way that not every airport overseas is as comfortable as Changi.
Instead of going ballistic or abusing customer service personnel, calm down and do the following.
Check what your rights as a passenger are
Air tickets don’t just entitle you to get from Destination A to Destination B alive. They can also come with perks in the event of circumstances like flight cancellations and long layovers.
The first thing you should do is to approach an airline representative and ask them what benefits you can claim in light of the delay or cancellation.
For instance, most airlines are obliged to give you food vouchers if a flight is delayed more than a certain number of hours. You might also be able to claim accommodation for overnight delays, or be redirected to another flight or mode of transport.
Don’t throw away any receipts for food, accommodation and other costs incurred during the delay, as you might be able to submit them for a claim later, either to your airline or insurer. Lastly, make sure you get documentation from the airline on the cancellation itself.
Do we need to go into that bit about buying travel insurance? Well…
Check what benefits your travel insurance offers you
Here’s the good news: if you have a travel insurance policy, you will most likely be entitled to some kind of compensation if your flight is cancelled. Most policies will also offer you compensation for long enough delays.
You should always bring along a copy of your travel insurance policy so you can check on the go what you’re entitled to.
If you’re not sure, don’t hesitate to contact your travel insurer on the phone. Your insurer will tell you what you can make claims for and how to submit the claims afterwards.
This can be a huge relief if it means being able to book a hotel room instead of sleeping on an airport floor.
Ensure your phone and/or laptop are charged so you can do research or remain contactable
You’ll never be happier to have your devices with you than during a flight cancellation. Before you board a flight, ensure your devices are fully charged.
In the event of a delay, you’ll want to be able to connect to the Internet (many airports now offer free wifi) or at least have phone access so that you can get in touch with your family and insurer, and/or book accommodation if necessary.
Book accommodation as soon as you can
Once you know your airline/insurer’s accommodation policy, you want to make your booking as soon as possible, assuming the airline will not be doing so on your behalf.
That’s because accommodation prices in the vicinity of the airport might shoot up in the event of a major flight cancellation or delay. Hotels near the airport might also fill up fast if there aren’t many options.
Check if your credit card entitles you to lounge access
Airport lounges can be a godsend during flight delays, so check if your credit card gives you access to any ahead of time.
Airport lounges usually offer you the bare minimum of free meals, charging stations and an Internet connection. Some might come with shower facilities or reclining seats where you can crash for the night. Here’s our rundown of the cards that can get you into airport lounges all over the world.
Have you ever lived through a flight cancellation or delay? Tell us how you handled it in the comments!