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How do I…stay calm and carry on when my flight is delayed or cancelled

when your flight is delayed

You’ve rocked up to the airport all excited for your trip and you look up at the departure board only to realise there’s big red letters next to your flight. “Delayed by 8 hours” or “Cancelled” stare back at you. Uh oh. What do you do when your flight is cancelled or delayed? Here’s our guide to surviving a flight crisis…

Step 1. Keep Calm

Panicking is only going to make it worse. It’s stressful, but staying calm will help you get the best outcome. Airline staff will be stressed too, with hordes of people running around wondering what to do, so be as zen as you can. After all, it’s out of your control and crying or yelling won’t fix it.

Step 2. Head to the help desk

There will likely already be a line of fellow travellers in the same boat, so join the queue and a representative form the airline will be able to give you some information about what has caused the delay or cancellation and what the options are.

Pro tip: if the line is super long, you may have quicker success by calling the airline.

Step 3. Ask for every option

Don’t be afraid to ask for every single option when speaking to the airline staff. Every airline is different and will offer different things, so be sure to ask about being put onto another flight (this may not be possible if the flight is held up due to weather issues), accommodation if you’re delayed overnight, or even airport vouchers. You may be entitled to a refund later on (through your travel insurance or directly with the airline) but for now find out what your options are in the meantime. It’s not cheap to ask for compensation of some variety at all.

Pro tip: Be sure to tell the staff if you have a connecting flight as this may give you priority access to an alternative flight.

Step 4. Stay informed

If it’s a delay, you may be asked to simply wait. Make sure you stay near the gates or help desk and keep checking the boards or with the staff for updates. If you’re easy to find, you’ll be first to know if anything changes. Another way to be informed is to prepare for the future, and that means getting an insurance letter from the airline for any major delays so you can claim it later on travel insurance. Get that info guys!

Step 5. Tell people who need to know

Once you’ve sorted out exactly what you can do at the airport at the time, you can inform everyone else. It saves any back and forth as you’re figuring out what to do and what your options are. Now is the time to contact your travel agent, hotel, mum, or Contiki! It’s out of your control so no one will blame you, but at least this gives everyone time to let you know what happens when you do land.

Step 6. Relax

You’ve done what you can, so there’s no harm in chilling out. You’ve earned it. Flight dramas suck but you stayed calm and got through it!