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If you're like us, you may be seeing a lot more of your friends traveling this summer or fall--or maybe you are taking that much anticipated trip that was put off or delayed due to the pandemic. You may have also heard, or experienced, some of the unfortunate interruptions or delays in the travel industry like lost baggage, flight delays or even cancellations. We know the moment a flight goes from 'on time' to 'delayed' to 'canceled' is one we never want to experience, however, like most things in life and travel, we can't always foresee these changes. At Shared Travel, we strive to help our clients feel as prepared and resourced as possible before your upcoming travel plans and we wanted to share a few of our favorite tips as it pertains to flight interruptions or cancellations.
WORKING WITH AIRLINES
There are a lot of reasons flights can become delayed or canceled and it is important to know what your options are. For flights using American companies, the Department of Transportation has just launched an interactive dashboard to help aid in understanding what airlines are responsible for and what to do when compensation has not been provided in a circumstance where it is deserved.
CONTROLLABLE DELAYS OR CANCELLATIONS
When airlines are experiencing strikes or understaffing, you may find that your flights are becoming delayed simply due to a limited amount of workers, pilots and attendants. If this causes you significant delay or a cancellation to your flight, you may be entitled to vouchers, compensation or refunds.
According to the Department of Transportation,
"A controllable flight cancellation or delay is essentially a delay or cancellation caused by the airline. Examples include: maintenance or crew problems; cabin cleaning; baggage loading; and fueling.Airlines are required to adhere to the promises that they make in their customer service plan, including commitments to care for customers in the event of controllable delays or cancellations. The Department will hold airlines accountable if they fail to do so."
UNCONTROLLABLE DELAYS OR CANCELLATIONS
We all know that weather is the most common reason for delays are cancellation and that while flights hope to be scheduled around major weather events, it can still be unpredictable and unavoidable.
Regardless of the cause of delay or cancellation, it can be a good practice to simultaneously get in line with Customer Service as well as get online or on the phone with an airline representative to help aid in the flight changes. Take into consideration that if your flight is significantly delayed or canceled and you are trying to obtain vouchers for meals and/or hotels, these services can only be provided by the airport customer service representative.
Additionally, the Department of Transportation has created a helpful page for Refunds and whether you are entitled to one. Whether or not the cancellation of your flight is weather induced or controllable, airlines are required to issue you a refund if a cancellation or significant delay occurs and you wish to no longer travel. One important thing to note is that each airline has a different definition around 'significant delay' and the Department of Transportation has not issued a definition for airlines to adhere. Check with your airline to know for sure!
WORKING WITH TRAVEL INSURANCE & Travel Apps
Reading through all of the above information can be a bit overwhelming, even for the avid traveler and that's why we always suggest:
1) Booking with a trusted travel advisor
Booking with a trusted travel advisor aids in the assurance of knowing somebody is there for you if issues arise. While we may not be able to keep things from going awry, we have experienced a lot of travel interruptions and may be able to offer you advice or acknowledge your rights are as a consumer. Instead of waiting on hold for hours with a mega-site booking engine, we are available by call or text while you travel!
2) Booking Travel Insurance
Once you've booked your travel package, you can add an extra measure of peace and assurance by booking Trip Insurance. When airlines are not required to make amendments for interruptions or cancelations to your travel, that's when Trip Insurance can help! Whether you are looking for coverage to pay the cost of hotel reservations, missed flights, inclement weather or if you need medical attention before you leave or while you are away, a travel insurance policy can help protect your wallet.
3) Utilizing Travel APPS
If you have ever booked a trip with multiple moving parts--hotels, flights, excursions, transfers, rental car etc.--especially with a variety of companies, you will recognize the desire for a place to put all of your booking information. Even as travel advisors, we love knowing that booking details, confirmation codes and important phone numbers are easily accessible, and that's why we love TripIt. TripIt can help be the document holder for your trip and be with you in an electronic form wherever you go with their easy-to-use app. When upgrade to the Pro Account ($49/year), you can upload documents, arrange for Alternate Flights, receive flight alerts and more!
We hope these tips and information help! If you have other tricks of the trade that have been useful to you, we invite you to share them with us. We love that the travel industry is full of a rich and diverse community of people who share ideas and resources with one another and we hope to continue sharing more in the future!
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