There’s no worse feeling. The pressure cooker of holiday excitement (and a little flight anxiety) has been bubbling for months. You’ve braved the scrum for check-in and endured a frisking at security. Pre-plane pints have been necked and post-flight itineraries discussed and dissected enthusiastically. Then, a crackle over the tannoy, and the feeling of collective dread lets you know what’s coming; you’re going to have to wait a little while – optimistically – longer for the holiday festivities to begin. Though it can put a huge dampener on proceedings, there are things you can do to wrestle back control of your trip. These are those; our 5 IDEAL things to do if your flight gets delayed or cancelled.

ASK YOUR AIRLINE TO BOOK YOU ONTO ANOTHER FLIGHT

First things first; you’ve got to strike while the iron is hot, and before all the other passengers have the same idea. You know how it is when travelling; it’s every man and woman for themselves, so get selfish. As soon as that announcement sends a collective groan up over the gate’s waiting area, get in touch (physically or over the phone) with your airline and ask them to arrange another flight for you. As it’s their responsibility for the delay or cancellation, you shouldn’t be charged a booking fee and they’ll likely be as accommodating as can be. Damage limitation, and all that.

CLAIM FOR COMPENSATION 

Are you flying from or to an EU airport, and your flight has been delayed for more than three hours? Then you’re legally entitled to receive the same compensation as if your flight had been cancelled. The same applies if you’re flying with airlines based in the EU like Ryanair or British Airways, and the same goes for Europe’s largest regional airline, flybe. Yep, flybe compensation is applicable for flight delays for anything over 3 hours according to EU 261 rule. If you’re unsure whether you’re entitled to compensation, companies like Flightright do the hard work for you, offering free check tools which immediately tell you if you should proceed with a claim. Simply type in your flight number, whether there was a delay, cancellation, rebooking or a missed connection, and await the good news. And remember flights can be claimable for up to six years; bingo!

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS

Even if you don’t have the right to claim for monetary compensation, according to Article 9 of EC261/2004, airlines have a duty of care to their passengers as the delay was caused by an extraordinary circumstance. Yep, even if you can’t wrangle money out of them, you may have the right to receive the following care and assistance from your airline:

  • Food and drink in reasonable relation to waiting time
  • Free hotel accommodation when a stay of one night or more is necessary
  • Free transport between the airport and the hotel
  • Two free telephone calls, emails, telex or fax messages (not that anyone uses the latter two anymore)

CREDIT CARD SAFETY NET

Should you have booked your flight using a credit card – and if not, we implore you to do so next time – then you’ll likely be afforded protection by your card company over such instances as flight delays and cancellations. Most offer refunds and reimbursements for more serious cases, so check the small print, terms and conditions for your account. In the future, before opening a new credit card account, ensure these perks are included for travel plan peace of mind.

DON’T LET IT RUIN YOUR HOLIDAY

The red mist can quickly descend when circumstances out of our control cause our precious downtime to be threatened. Don’t be that guy rude to a member of staff who doesn’t deserve to shoulder the blame; karma will take you down a peg or two, make no mistake. Instead, breathe, stay calm and embrace the chance to explore the airport, enjoy some food and drink, perhaps even some retail therapy. And then, once your flight is rearranged, you’ll be able to approach your holiday with the same optimistic, enthusiastic spirit which you brought to the airport in the first place.