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Key Information on Flight Cancellations Due to Bad Weather

by Joshua Brown
5 comments
flight cancellations

Summary: As thunderstorms threaten the East Coast, West Coast, and regions in between during the peak summer travel season, hundreds of thousands of air travelers may face flight cancellations and delays. It’s important to stay informed about rebooking, refunds, and other essential details. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Flight Disruption: By midday Thursday, approximately 500 U.S. flights had been canceled, with over 2,700 flights experiencing delays, according to FlightAware, a flight tracking service.

  • Handling a Flight Cancellation: Experts emphasize the significance of remaining calm and being aware of your rights when dealing with a flight cancellation. Consider the following advice:

  1. Rebooking: If you still wish to reach your destination, most airlines will rebook you on the next available flight with vacant seats, as outlined by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

  2. Refunds: In the event you decide to cancel your trip, you are entitled to a full refund, even for non-refundable tickets. Additional expenses like bag fees, seat upgrades, and other extras should also be refunded.

  3. Vouchers vs. Refunds: Consumer travel advocate Kurt Ebenhoch advises travelers to opt for a refund instead of vouchers for future travel. If you do choose a voucher, ensure you inquire about blackout dates and any other restrictions.

  • Booking on Another Airline’s Flight: Although not obligatory, airlines may accommodate you on another carrier’s flight in some cases. It can be helpful to research alternate flights while waiting to speak with an agent and consider alternative airports near your original destination.

  • Compensation and Services: Currently, each airline sets its own policies regarding compensation and services for customers whose flights are canceled. While the Biden administration has expressed interest in requiring airlines to cover expenses like meals and hotel rooms, it is not yet mandatory. Check with airline staff and use the DOT’s online dashboard for comparisons.

  • Dealing with Delays: If faced with a long wait to rebook, calling the airline’s dedicated number for higher-level frequent fliers or an international help desk may offer better assistance.

  • Future Planning: For more reliable travel experiences, consider booking nonstop flights and morning departures. Staying at an airport-connected hotel the night before can help ensure timely arrivals for morning flights. Flying on less busy dates is also advisable. Compare airlines’ policies on the DOT’s service dashboard, and reserve multiple flights, canceling unused ones if the airline offers refunds or credits.

  • Flight Cancellation Trends: FAA data suggests that flight cancellations have been lower during the spring of 2023 compared to the previous year. Carriers have addressed previous issues contributing to disruptions, including hiring more staff and using larger aircraft. However, lingering staffing shortages, particularly among air traffic controllers, remain a concern. Efforts are underway to train more controllers, but the impact won’t be felt during this summer’s travel season.

  • FAA Staffing Challenges: The FAA has faced staffing challenges in critical air traffic control facilities, which could disrupt air traffic operations. The agency is urged to develop a plan to address these challenges to ensure continuity.

By staying informed and understanding your rights, you can navigate flight cancellations caused by inclement weather more effectively.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about flight cancellations

Q: What should I do if my flight is canceled due to bad weather?

A: If your flight is canceled, you have options. Most airlines will rebook you on the next available flight for free, as long as there are seats. Alternatively, you can choose to cancel your trip and receive a full refund, even for non-refundable tickets. Don’t forget to inquire about refunds for any additional fees you paid, such as bag fees or seat upgrades.

Q: Can I request to be booked on another airline’s flight?

A: While airlines are not required to put you on another carrier’s flight, some may offer this option. It’s recommended to research alternate flights on your own while waiting to speak with an agent. Additionally, consider looking into alternative airports near your original destination.

Q: Will the airline provide compensation such as a hotel room if my flight is canceled?

A: As of now, each airline has its own policies regarding compensation for canceled flights. While the Biden administration aims to require airlines to cover expenses like meals and hotel rooms for certain situations, it is not currently mandatory. It’s advisable to check with airline staff to see if accommodations are available. You can also consult the DOT’s online dashboard for comparisons of cancellation and delay policies among major carriers.

Q: What should I do if I’m facing a long wait to rebook my flight?

A: If you’re facing a long wait to rebook your flight, try calling the airline’s dedicated number for higher-level frequent fliers. You can also consider reaching out to the international help desk for the airline, as those agents may have more flexibility in making changes to your booking.

Q: How can I avoid flight cancellations in the future?

A: To minimize the risk of flight cancellations, consider booking nonstop flights and morning departures, as they tend to be more reliable. If you’re concerned about making it to the airport on time for a morning flight, staying at a hotel connected to the airport the night before can be helpful. Additionally, try to schedule your flights on less busy travel dates. It’s also a good idea to compare airlines’ policies on the DOT’s service dashboard and reserve multiple flights, canceling the ones you don’t use if the airline offers refunds or credits.

Q: Are flight cancellations decreasing in 2023 compared to the previous year?

A: Yes, flight cancellations have trended lower in spring 2023 compared to the previous year, according to data from the FAA. Carriers have made efforts to address previous issues that caused disruptions. They have hired more staff, including pilots, and are utilizing larger planes to reduce the number of flights but not the number of seats. However, there are still concerns about staffing shortages, especially among air traffic controllers. The FAA is training more controllers, but the impact won’t be seen during this summer’s travel season.

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5 comments

WanderlustDreamer June 30, 2023 - 8:02 am

long wait for rebooking? here’s a tip – if you or someone in your group is a frequent flier, use the special number for higher-level peeps. it might get you better service. or try calling an international help desk, those agents can do more! keep your fingers crossed for a smooth experience.

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Jetsetter101 June 30, 2023 - 11:01 am

wanna avoid flight cancellations? go for nonstop flights, they’re more reliable. and mornings are better, trust me! if you’re worried about getting to the airport, stay at an airport hotel the night before, simple. oh, and avoid busy dates, duh! check airline policies and reserve multiple flights, you can always cancel later. happy travels, folks!

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TravelLover22 June 30, 2023 - 3:45 pm

flight cancellations due to bad weather can be a real nightmare. But don’t worry, airlines usually rebook for free on next available flight if there are seats. and you can even get a refund, yes, a FULL refund, even if your tickets are non-refundable. so keep calm and know your rights!

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SkyHighTraveler June 30, 2023 - 8:27 pm

flight cancellations were a mess last year, but things are supposedly getting better. airlines hired more people, bigger planes, ya know. but there are still staffing problems, especially with those air traffic controllers. FAA’s trying to train more of ’em, but don’t expect miracles this summer. fingers crossed for smoother skies, folks!

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AviationGeek77 July 1, 2023 - 2:50 am

if your flight gets cancelled, remember that you can ask to be put on another airline’s flight, but it’s not guaranteed. so do your own research while waiting, find alternate flights, and look for other airports near your destination. and hey, don’t expect the airline to give you a hotel room or any compensation, ’cause it’s up to them! check their policies or just be prepared to rough it out.

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