Thanksgiving is just around the corner — and for a lot of us, that means traveling to be with friends and family. Hopping on a plane makes it easier to stay close to those far away from us; but it can also introduce a menu of problems. For instance, do you know what to do if your Thansgiving flight is delayed? This certainly has the potential to put a big, gloomy cloud over your holiday... but it doesn't have to, as long as you have a few useful strategies in your proverbial back pocket.
Of course, there are ways to avoid flight delays. For example, flying in the morning substantially decreases your chances, as delays (and cancellations) tend to become more frequent throughout the day. But what if you still fall victim to a pesky flight delay at your airline? Note that there are no federal requirements for what airlines must do to accommodate and satisfy passengers in the event of a delayed flight. This is up to each airline entirely. They are not required to compensate you, provide amenities, etc.
So what's a passenger to do? Are you completely out of luck? Not quite. Think ahead and always be polite to the people you interact with, and a delayed flight can stink just a little less. Here are a few things you can do that might help.
Get A Room For The Night
If it's past 6:00 p.m., you might want to call it a night under certain conditions. If your delay is weather-related, there's a good chance you're not going anywhere that night. As another example, if your destination is small, extra flights (or empty seats on the flights that do exist) likely aren't an option. Apps like HotelTonight can give you great deals at the last minute, and help you book a room close to the airport right from your phone.
Find Out What The Airline Will Give You For The Delay
As I mentioned earlier, legally, airlines aren't required to give you much in the way of compensation; what's more if your delay is less than a few hours, you probably won't get anything. But, because their costumer service game is strong, some airlines will give you food vouchers, a hotel room, or a discount on a future flight if your flight is delayed.
Request A Lounge Pass
If the delay is because of the airline and not the weather (maybe a mechanical problem), it's not unreasonable to politely ask for a pass to the lounge. While the airline might hesitate since this is their VIP area, they're also just as likely to hand one out since you were so sweet and your travel plans were inconvenienced.
Don't Spend Time Waiting In Line — But If You Do...
Call the airline while you're waiting. You're more likely to get help over the phone before you do in person.
Rebook Your Own Flight
Check Your Travel Insurance
Typically, travel insurance kicks in after a four-hour delay. After that point, your policy might provide you with a hotel room, as well as a set amount of money for food and possibly entertainment. Check your travel insurance policy, and just make sure to read the fine print.
Be Flexible In Your Traveling
Your flight to LaGuardia was canceled — any chance you could book a flight to JFK instead? While it's not ideal, it could mean getting to your destination sooner rather than later.