Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Dealing with missed, delayed, and canceled flights

One of the many types of protection that travel insurance offers individuals is the ability to be at ease when flights are not taken as they were originally scheduled. Missed, canceled, and delayed flights can be a result of either circumstances in your own life that interfere with your travel plans, or glitches in an airline's operations. At any rate, in addition to making sure that you have travel insurance to protect you in these types of situations, here are a few more tips that will help you cope.

In the case of missing a flight, the most common, and the easiest course of action is to simply take the next available flight. In fact, several airlines now automatically confirm you as a passenger on another flight that is scheduled for departure shortly after your original flight. However, if this automatic correction is not the case for you, it should be relatively easy to get onto another flight anyway. If you booked through an airline website, speak with an agent of that airline directly. If you booked through a travel agency or other provider, then that is who you should speak to in order to arrange for another flight. If you find yourself having missed a flight and hoping to catch the next one during a busy time or season, be prepared for the possibility that there will be several other travelers like yourself waiting to be accommodated on upcoming flights. This means that the airline will likely create a standby list, in priority order (roughly a first come first served basis). If your name is on a standby list, the procedure will be such that passengers originally booked on that flight will board first. If there are any available seats remaining, the airline will begin taking people from the standby list and placing them on this flight. If, however, they are unable to accommodate all of the standby passengers, the remaining passengers will be moved (in the same order) to the standby list of the next flight.

If delays are mounting beyond your control, and it looks as though you will be stranded for an indefinite period of time, canceling or postponing your trip may be your most preferable option. Of course, this is only assuming that you have the flexibility to do so—both in terms of time and money. Having adequate travel insurance will at least give you that flexibility financially. If you decide to cancel or postpone your trip, speaking with an agent (from either the airline, or the agency, depending on who you booked through) as soon as you can. This will help prevent you from losing your ticket altogether, and will give you a sense of when you can reuse it. The general rule for most airlines is that tickets can be reused within a year of the original date. This is the course of action to follow if you cancel your flight be choice. If, however, your flight has been canceled by the airline itself, you can expect a full refund.

When flights are delayed for extended periods, travelers often find themselves stuck in a city they are unfamiliar with and didn't necessarily intent to spend time in (as in the case of becoming stranded in your stopover location). If the delay is anticipated to go as long as overnight, it may become necessary for you to seek accommodations for the evening—especially in a city where you either have no home, nor relatives or friends with whom you can stay. Usually in such cases, the airline will offer a list of approved hotels who will provide a discount for “distressed passengers.”

Being aware of these circumstances, and knowing that they occur frequently, should help to lessen the stress that you experience in dealing with them...and of course, given how costly your comfort can become in times when flights go awry, having traveler's insurance will help to offset that greatly.

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