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Important Information on Flight Cancellations Due to Bad Weather

by Ryan Lee
6 comments
flight cancellations

This weekend, as thunderstorms threaten the East Coast, West Coast, and areas in between, hundreds of thousands of air travelers may face potential flight cancellations and delays. Flight tracking service FlightAware reported that nearly 270 U.S. flights were canceled early Friday, with over 1,100 flights experiencing delays. United Airlines has particularly struggled this week, leading in both canceled and delayed flights among major domestic carriers.

Remaining calm and being aware of your rights can greatly assist you if your flight is canceled. Here is some advice from experts on dealing with flight cancellations:

My Flight Was Canceled. What’s Next?

If you still wish to reach your destination, most airlines will rebook you for free on the next available flight, provided there are available seats, as stated by the U.S. Department of Transportation. In case you decide to cancel your trip, you are entitled to a full refund, even if you purchased non-refundable tickets. Additionally, you have the right to receive a refund for any paid bag fees, seat upgrades, or other extras.

Consumer travel advocate Kurt Ebenhoch emphasizes that travelers are eligible for a refund, not just vouchers for future travel. If you do choose to accept a voucher, make sure to inquire about blackout dates and other restrictions that may apply.

Can I Request to Be Booked on Another Airline’s Flight?

Yes, airlines are not obligated to book you on another airline’s flight, but they may do so, according to the DOT. Jeff Klee, CEO of CheapAir.com, previously suggested researching alternate flights while waiting to speak with an agent. Agents often face pressure during flight cancellations, so providing them with some options can be helpful. Ebenhoch also recommends exploring alternative airports near your original destination.

Is the Airline Required to Provide a Hotel Room or Other Compensation?

No, as of now, each airline still has its own policies regarding compensating customers whose flights are canceled, even though the Biden administration aims to enforce regulations requiring airlines to provide compensation, including meals and hotel rooms, for reasons within their control. However, many airlines do offer accommodations, so it’s advisable to check with their staff. The DOT provides an online dashboard to compare cancellation and delay policies of major carriers.

I’m Facing a Long Wait for Rebooking. What Should I Do?

If someone in your travel party holds a higher level in a frequent flier program, use the dedicated number for that level to contact the airline, suggests Ebenhoch. Alternatively, consider calling an international help desk for the airline, as those agents may have the authority to make changes.

How Can I Prevent This in the Future?

Ebenhoch recommends nonstop and morning flights, as they tend to be more reliable if available. If you’re concerned about arriving at the airport on time for a morning flight, consider staying at an airport-connected hotel the night before. Additionally, flying on less busy dates could reduce the likelihood of disruptions.

Klee suggests referring to the DOT’s service dashboard to compare airlines’ policies. He also advises reserving multiple flights and canceling the ones not used, as long as the airline offers refunds or converts the payment into credit for future travel.

Are Flight Cancellations Decreasing in 2023?

According to data from the FAA, flight cancellations have shown a decreasing trend throughout the spring of 2023 compared to the previous year. Industry officials argue that airlines have addressed the issues that contributed to a surge in cancellations and delays last summer, which saw 52,000 flights canceled between June and August. Airlines have since hired around 30,000 employees, including thousands of pilots, and have utilized larger aircraft to reduce flights without reducing seat availability.

However, officials caution that staffing shortages, particularly among key air traffic controllers, persist. Although the FAA is training approximately 3,000 more controllers, they won’t be ready for this summer’s travel season. The agency has taken steps to alleviate congestion, such as urging airlines to reduce flights in the New York City area and opening 169 new flight paths along the East Coast to mitigate bottlenecks.

A recent government audit conducted by the Transportation Department’s Office of Inspector General revealed that the FAA has made “limited efforts” to ensure adequate staffing at critical air traffic control facilities. The audit highlighted that the agency “continues to face staffing challenges and lacks a plan to address them, which in turn poses a risk to the continuity of air traffic operations.”

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about flight cancellations

Was your flight canceled due to bad weather? What you need to know about rebooking, refunds and more

Q: My flight was canceled. What should I do next?
A: If you still want to reach your destination, most airlines will rebook you for free on the next available flight with available seats. If you prefer to cancel your trip, you are entitled to a full refund, even for non-refundable tickets. Make sure to inquire about any restrictions on voucher use if you choose that option.

Q: Can I ask to be booked on another airline’s flight?
A: Airlines are not obligated to book you on another airline’s flight, but they may do so. It’s advisable to research alternate flights while waiting to speak with an agent, and you can suggest these options to the agent. Additionally, consider looking into alternative airports near your original destination.

Q: Will the airline provide a hotel room or other compensation for the cancellation?
A: As of now, each airline has its own policies regarding compensation for cancellations. While the Biden administration aims to enforce regulations requiring airlines to provide accommodations and compensation for reasons within their control, it’s advisable to check with the airline’s staff for any available accommodations. The DOT’s online dashboard can help compare cancellation and delay policies of major carriers.

Q: I’m facing a long wait to rebook. What should I do?
A: If someone in your travel party holds a higher level in a frequent flier program, use the dedicated number for that level to contact the airline. You can also try calling an international help desk for the airline, as those agents may have more flexibility to make changes.

Q: How can I avoid flight cancellations in the future?
A: Nonstop and morning flights are generally more reliable. If you’re concerned about timing, consider staying at a hotel connected to the airport the night before your morning flight. It’s also helpful to fly on less busy dates. Comparing airlines’ policies on the DOT’s service dashboard can provide insights, and reserving multiple flights and canceling unused ones may be an option, provided the airline offers refunds or credits.

Q: Are flight cancellations decreasing in 2023?
A: Data from the FAA shows a decreasing trend in flight cancellations throughout the spring of 2023 compared to the previous year. However, staffing shortages, particularly among air traffic controllers, remain a concern. The FAA is working on training more controllers, but they won’t be ready for this summer’s travel season.

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Ryan Lee is a technology journalist who covers the latest trends and developments in the world of tech. He is passionate about new gadgets and software, and he enjoys testing and reviewing the latest products to hit the market.

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6 comments

AdventurousSoul June 30, 2023 - 4:17 pm

Morning flights, got it! Also, gonna book nonstop flights from now on. Don’t wanna deal with more cancellations. Maybe I’ll stay at an airport hotel too, just in case.

Reply
SkyHighDreamer June 30, 2023 - 8:28 pm

Omg, waiting for rebooking is the worst! But hey, call the special number if u’re a fancy flier or try the international help desk. They might be more helpful, y’know?

Reply
JetSetter365 June 30, 2023 - 11:31 pm

Flight cancellations trendin’ lower in 2023? That’s great news! But we still need more air traffic controllers, dang it! FAA, get your act together!

Reply
WanderlustFlyer July 1, 2023 - 4:38 am

wait, airlines don’t have to give u a hotel room? That suxx! Hope Biden’s new rules kick in soon. Gotta check the DOT’s website to compare cancellation policies. #FingersCrossed

Reply
GlobeTrotter82 July 1, 2023 - 6:20 am

Whoa, so many flight cancellations last summer! Thank goodness airlines are fixin’ stuff. But staffing shortages? Seriously? FAA needs a plan, like, yesterday!

Reply
TravelLover21 July 1, 2023 - 11:21 am

omg flight cancellations r such a nightmare! But good 2 kno I can get a refund even if my tix r non-refundable. Gotta ask bout blackout dates tho, those can b annoying af.

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