When flights get delayed or worse yet, canceled entirely, it can cause a great deal of stress for travelers. There are several reasons flights become disrupted such as security, bad weather, mechanical issues, or labor strikes that lead to a delay or cancellation. When this happens, the airliner’s only obligation is to get you to your destination on the next available flight which may cause big interruptions to your travel plans. Here are some helpful tips to handle this situation.

Know the rules:Passenger rights vary by country. Check out US rules at the Department of Transportation’s Fly Rights page. If you’re flying within or from the European Union (EU), or to the EU on an EU-based airline, you have a better chance of getting compensation due to the regulation EC26 that went into effect in 2004. EU Air Passenger Rights.

Arrive Early: Determine how long it will take you to get to the airport. Remember to factor in traffic, security wait times, etc. and arrive early, especially if inclement weather is predicted or already in effect.

Spot A Delay Early: Sign up for your carrier’s travel alert page. Check early and often. Airlines usually post notices a day or two before bad weather approaches. Options to change flights to another day, free of charge, are common. Also, be sure to look for possible delays by checking the flight status of the inbound plane, the plane that will be operating your flight, on your airline’s website or on FlightAware.com. Flights that have in-flight Wi-Fi usually have free access to their website. Use your laptop or smartphone to check the status of your connection and any available options to get ahead before landing.

Travel Insurance: If you purchased a travel insurance policy or have benefits through a credit card used to purchase your flight, review your benefits like trip delay, missed connection and baggage delay. Also make sure you have your policy number and 24-Hour Emergency Assistance phone numbers handy. The insurance company may have a concierge department that can also assist you with rebooking flights.

Rebook without an Agent: Most carriers have an app that allows you to rebook a canceled flight on your own without the hassle of waiting in line to speak with an agent.

Using Smartphone Apps to Call Airlines Internationally: Airline call centers can have extensive wait times during emergencies. Consider using smartphone apps such as Skype or WhatsApp to get in touch internationally with your airline. It’s possible these numbers may lead to different agents who will pick up faster.

Weigh Your Options: Sometimes airlines make an initial offer that isn’t ideal – a return flight that’s 2-3 days out or a flight that has multiple connections and long layovers. This is the time to be kind, but firm with the customer service representative. If you don’t like what they offer, keep checking options on your phone until you find what’s suitable for you. Visit online booking sites such as Kayak and Google Flights to research possible flights to present the agent with a counter-offer that’s more suitable for you. Knowledge is key during negotiations.

Be Kind: It will be to your advantage to be calm and treat the gate agent or the customer service representative who’s assisting you with kindness and respect. They’ll remember how you treated them and may be more inclined to take care of you if a limited number of seats become available.

Hopefully these tips will allow you to be better prepared and travel more confidently. If you have any questions or are considering a future trip contact Reefs to Rockies today. Knowledge is Power!

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