Andrew Astor did everything right when his red-eye flight was delayed into the morning during a Federal Aviation Administration meltdown earlier this month, but it didn’t cost him any trouble.
Ten minutes before boarding, gate agents announced what appeared to be a minor delay, he said.
“Oh, there’s another flight that’s not taking off, so we have to wait for that flight,” he recalled. “Then they said, ‘Oh, we’ve got to fix things on the jet. There’s something wrong with the jet.’ … They pushed it back five minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes.”
Meanwhile, he checked American Airlines’ app, which also reflected mounting delays. He tried to call the airline, but the flight was busy. Eventually, he heard another passenger say the FAA was grounding all flights.
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“Once they said the FAA had grounded all flights, I went straight to customer service because I know how to get taxes,” Oster said.
He said a helpful customer service agent booked him on the next available flight in the morning, but was offered nothing but cookies and water for the trouble.
According to American Airlines’ customer service program, “If delays or cancellations are caused by events beyond our control (such as weather), you are responsible for your overnight accommodations, meals and incidental expenses. American Airlines agents can assist you. A restaurant.”
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What do travelers do wrong when their flight is cancelled?
According to Danni Rivers-Mitchell, founder of Black Girls Travel Too, Aster, a global boutique tour operator specializing in immersive and cultural experiences for black women, made all the right moves.
“It’s a lot, but that’s where your multitasking skills have to come in,” Rivers-Mitchell said. He advises his customers that if they hear of a major delay or cancellation of their flight, get in line at the customer service at the airport as soon as possible, call the airline’s customer service line and communicate on social media and other available platforms. through the use of the carrier while they wait.
“It would be foolish to think that waiting in line at the airport for help is enough,” he said. “There are only so many seats left to rebook. I want my chances of getting on the next flight (flight) to be better.”
Rivers-Mitchell said it’s important to know your preferences and be prepared to argue for alternatives if you’re not satisfied with the itineraries the airline offers you.
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“If I see that my flight is significantly delayed or pushed back, somewhere that is time-sensitive, I’m already looking for different flight options,” Rivers-Mitchell said. What consumers should do is sometimes help the airline consider other options, such as “rebooking your airline with one of their partners if the schedule is better, or allowing you to change your itinerary to other airports if possible.”
Also, he said, it is very important to treat all airline employees who help you with respect. Not only is this the right thing to do, but they’re more likely to go above and beyond to help their good customers.
Auster saw the importance of advocating for yourself directly during her own annulment experience.
“Customer support could have been better, but they didn’t know what was going on,” he said.
Are there refunds if flights are cancelled?
If an airline cancels your flight for any reason, the Department of Transportation requires refunds to all affected passengers and non-refundable ticket holders.
However, policies regarding delays are set by individual carriers.
See USA Today’s other coverage for a full explanation of the airline’s policies.
What should I do if my flight is at risk of cancellation?
► Update your contact information: Rivers-Mitchell said she advises her customers to make sure the contact information they provide to the airline is up-to-date.
► Don’t rely on just one app: He also said he uses a third-party app to track any updates on his flights.
► Have plans B and C ready: If there’s bad weather that affects a short flight, Rivers-Mitchell said it’s best to get to the car rental counter early. If you can drive instead of flying, make sure to lock in all the rental cars before they’re gone.
► Prepare for the worst: Above all, he recommends getting travel insurance for every trip, no matter how short, as well as leaving yourself some schedule padding to fly out for time-sensitive events, and taking the first flight of the day to minimize your chances of getting caught. Delayed or cancelled.
“Managing your expectations is very important. You have to be patient,” he said. “It’s all about preparation. It’s about risk management.”
How should I contact my airline? Which site is best?
Whatever the situation, Rivers-Mitchell’s multitasking advice applies. He said your best bet when things start to go wrong is to communicate with the airline as much as you can: when calling the airline and reaching out to customer service through apps and social media.
It may take time to resolve your issue and get you rebooked, but the more channels of communication you open, the more likely you are to resolve your issue to your satisfaction.
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Astor can’t prepare for an FAA outage.
“I was angry, but it was very hard to be so angry because it was just like the FAA thing,” he said. “What can anyone really do?”
He wanted to bring snacks.