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AirTkt Travel Tips of Delayed and Cancelled Flights

At provides most accurate and complete Tips and Tricks for your Health and Safety during your Trip.

  • Work with the airline personnel to re-book you on another flight. Remember, being pleasant and working with the agent will bring more positive results than losing your temper.

  • When there is a line at the counter, call the airline’s reservation office. Book another flight by phone instead of waiting in line. Ask if they will guarantee you a seat on another flight.

  • If traveling with another person, have one remain in line while the other uses the phone. Stay within eye contact  of each other in the event that one of you needs to motion the other one over. If you are carrying a cell phone, call the airline while you’re standing in line. See which one is able to help you first.

  • Check with others in your party to see if any belong to a VIP club that might help to get special consideration.

  • Remember to ask to be protected under the airline's rules in the ticket's conditions or contract of carriage for dealing with missed connections, delayed and cancelled flights. Be sure that you are given all the consideration that you are legally due. The section of the contract is called "Rule 240". The airline will have a section that specifically spells out what action they must take to help you continue your trip and what compensation you are due, if any. The U.S. Department of Transportation requires that a copy of the contract be available to passengers at the ticket counter. Most airlines provide this information on their web sites. Print it and take it with you in case it is needed. The guidelines are part of the legal contract that deals with you the passenger. You and the airline agreed upon these terms when you purchased their ticket. They can't choose to disregard part of a legal contract and enforce a different policy.

  • See if your airline will find you a seat on another carrier. Although they will first try to find you a flight on their own airline, if they fail to do so, they will attempt to find a seat with another carrier. Many airlines limit your choices to partner airlines, with which they have existing agreements.  

  • Rule 240 should state that, if you so choose, you are entitled to a refund for any unused portion of your ticket, even it's a nonrefundable, because the situation was "involuntary".

  • Rule 240 also says what, if any, other compensation you are due because of the flight’s delay or cancellation. Compensation varies depending on the reason for the flight’s delay or cancellation.

  • When you see that a lot of people are going to be delayed  or stranded for a long time, book a hotel room and/or a rental car before they are all gone.

  • Check other types of transportation such as trains, buses, or rental cars. Even though the airport may close, it probably won't affect highways or railroads.

  • Don't hesitate.  If the airport is closed other transportation and hotel rooms will sell out fast.

  • Call or E-mail any ongoing reservations to the airlines, hotels or rental car companies that will be affected by the delay.

Don't assume that a delayed or cancelled flight will automatically earn you complimentary meals or a free hotel. There are exceptions.  Follow some of the guidelines listed below to help you get the assistance and compensation that you are due.

  • A pleasant attitude will bring better results than losing your temper. Let them know that you are upset with the situation, but don't  turn your anger on them.

  • Sharpen your negotiation skills and reasonably ask them to cover some of the expenses caused by the delay or cancellation. Being calm, un-emotional and professional should help.

  • Ask to be protected under Rule 240.  Be sure that you are given all the consideration you are legally due.  Rule 240 is the airline’s own written rules,  in the ticket’s "conditions" or "contract of carriage" section, and deals with missed connections and delayed or cancelled flights.  Rule 240 clearly spells out what action the carrier must take to help you complete your trip and what compensation is due, if any.

  • The U.S. Department of Transportation requires that a copy of the contract must be available to all passengers at the ticket counter. Most airlines provide this information on their web site.  Print it ahead of time and take it with you, just in case.

  • The airline must honor the written guidelines in their contract of carriage. These are part of the legal contract that deals with you. You and the carrier agreed on these terms when you purchased their ticket. The airline cannot pick and choose parts of a legal contract and enforce arbitrary policies.

  • Many airlines will try to reschedule your flight or offer you coupons good toward future flights. If you so choose, you are entitled to an involuntary refund for any unused portion of your ticket, if you decide not to travel on the rescheduled flight, even if it was nonrefundable.

  • It’s better to pay for your ticket with a credit card.  It makes it easier and faster to get your refund or adjustment.   if the airline balks at refunding your unused ticket, you can appeal to the credit card company for help.

  • If the airline insists that you mail in your unused ticket before they will issue a refund, always make a copy before putting it in the mail.

  • Rule 240 also explains what other compensation you may be due because of a delay or cancellation.

  • It  usually varies depending on the reason for the delay or cancellation. Compensation for delays depend on the amount of time lost by the delay.

  • If a delay or cancellation is caused by something beyond the airline's control, (technically called a "Force Majeure") any compensation will be limited or waived.

  • "Force Majeure" is a catchall that identifies situations that cannot be foreseen or controlled by the airline.  Some of the situations that may qualify under "Force Majeure include, bad weather, acts of God, government regulations, terrorism, wars, hostilities, security issues, safety concerns, strikes, work slowdowns, labor-related disputes, shortage of labor or fuel problems.

  • Depending on your individual circumstances, you may be entitled to compensation for an overnight stay in a hotel, meals, phone calls or other transportation costs. Understand that there are limits on all these forms of compensations. Some airlines won't pay for a hotel at the origin point or destination of your flight and may deny paying for a stay if your flight delay is within a certain distance from your home’s main airport.

  • Remember, if you are late checking in, you may forfeit your right to any compensation,  including an involuntary refund.

  • Always keep all receipts for any expenses caused by the delay or cancellation. Even if the rules don't specifically apply,  you may want to appeal to the airline’s customer service department later. You’ll need the receipts to back you up. Only send the airline copies of the receipts and keep the originals.

  • Many carriers, while not required to give compensation,  will provide you with something as a token of good customer relations.

  • Check out the airlines’ on-time performance ratings and choose the one with the best. 

  • Be current with the airline industry news. Watch to see if your airline has any upcoming labor negotiations. If they do, near when you are planning a trip, consider using another carrier. Avoid a possible work stoppage or slowdown.

  • Try to avoid peak travel times.

  • Be aware of weather conditions common along your route or destination. Plan your trip to avoid times when bad weather causes delays.,  

  • Fly nonstop or direct and avoid connections where possible. Any time you land and take off, your chances of a delay increase.

  • Schedule early morning flights, if possible They are less likely to be delayed and give you more options through out the day..

  • Try to avoid the last flight of the day. A delay or cancellation could force an overnight stay.

  • Consider using a paper ticket rather than an E-ticket. If it becomes necessary to transfer to another carrier to complete your trip, a paper ticket will save time and hassle.  Many airlines are unable to transfer passengers with E-tickets without having to re-issue a paper ticket.

  •  On the U.S. Department of Transportation’s On-time statistics expanded database query web page. This contains a huge database of information on the on-time statistics of major U.S. Airlines. Focus your search on a number of time periods and research individual airlines, airports, time of day or day of the week. Complete the questionnaire on the page and get answers immediately on specific questions..

  • This is  the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Air Travel Consumer Report web page. It contains information on flight delays, mishandled baggage, oversales or overbooking of flights, consumer complaints, and disability complaints for the ten largest U.S. Airlines. Each section provides information that will help the traveler to evaluate which airline may provide the best service 

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