Your flight has been canceled or delayed. What should you do?

Carolina Contreras, a 34-year-old business owner who flies frequently between New York and Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, has been using JetBlue for her trips for nearly a decade without any problems. But in his last two flights he said his flights were delayed by hours; One was pushed back six times.

“I want to be in place. I want to rest,” said Ms. Contreras, whose salon, Miss Rizos, has locations in both cities. “I know how hard the pandemic has been, but people need to get through this together.”

Ms. Contreras is not alone. thousands of flights Travel has been delayed or canceled by airlines in the past few weeks as travel has picked up, with airlines blaming bad weather and labor shortages for the disruptions.

“We are clearly in a new world, and there are a lot of changes, regulations, restrictions, openings, closures, spikes and also supply and demand issues for airlines,” said Michael Holtz, chief executive officer. smartflyer, A luxury travel agency based in New York City. “Frankly, no one really can last.”

If you find yourself stuck at an airport with a canceled or delayed flight, here’s what you need to know.

If possible, try to book directly through an airline rather than an online travel agency, which can make it more difficult to change your itinerary in case of cancellations or delays.

“Your rights under the law are still the same,” said founder Scott Keyes Scott’s cheap flights, a service that tracks and emails airfare deals to customers. But he added that working with an airline is “going to be simpler and generally more efficient.”

You should also ensure that you have all the necessary documents needed for travel, such as a negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination, which is required for entry into many countries. “Many people don’t have the right information before they get to the airport, and then there’s a lot of confusion,” said Mr. Holtz.

Check in 24 hours before your flight and, if possible, Mr. Holtz recommends traveling with only a carry-on so you can skip check-in or baggage drop lines, which can often be very long. Huh.

If there is a delay or change in your flight, you should keep checking your flight status before exiting. It can be helpful to download an app for the airline you’re flying with so that you can easily track your flight and any schedule changes.

under federal law, airlines are bound to provide full refunds to customers if a flight is significantly delayed and the passenger does not wish to travel. What constitutes a significant delay is determined by the airline, but Mr. Keys said two hours is usually a good rule of thumb. For more specific information you should check your airline’s website for its carriage contract, which outlines the policies.

If you choose to travel, you should line up to speak with a gate agent to discuss your options. You will generally be placed on the next flight with no available seats. You can also call the airline, but given the long wait times on many US customer service lines, Mr. Keys recommends trying one of the airline’s international numbers, which are listed on the “Contact Us” section of their website. ” are listed on pages and may be shorter. to wait.

“You want to make sure you know what the cellphone rates are,” he said, “but if you’re calling Canada, it’s like two cents a minute. If you call a US hotline So it would be a 20 minute call versus a three hour wait. I think it’s worth 40 cents.”

If you booked through an online travel agency like Expedia or Orbitz, you’ll need to call it directly to have your problem resolved. “The airline generally won’t want to do a deal with you,” said Mr. Keyes.

If you choose to keep traveling, you are not entitled to compensation under federal law, but some airlines may offer it if the delay is their fault, such as due to a mechanical or staffing problem.

American Airlines, For example, it will arrange overnight stays for customers whose flight is delayed and do not board before midnight on the scheduled arrival day, said Andrea Kuss, a spokeswoman for American Airlines.

jetblue Offers compensation for flights delayed by three or more hours, ranging from $50 to $200, depending on the length of the delay. If your flight was booked directly through the airline, it will email you within seven days of the flight’s scheduled departure to provide you with instructions on how to get compensation, According to its customer Bill of Rights. If you booked through a third party such as Expedia or Orbitz, you will need to call that company’s customer service line for possible compensation.

If the delay is due to an act of God, such as bad weather, and you are stuck somewhere overnight, you are alone in terms of food and accommodation.

If your flight is canceled by the airline, you will either be accommodated on a subsequent flight or, if you decide not to travel, you are entitled to a full refund under federal law. If the flight had multiple stops, you will be refunded for the unused portion of the flight.

Often, airlines offer travel credits or vouchers in lieu of a full refund, which are usually valid within one year of use. “That’s why it’s so important to know your rights under the law,” Keyes said. “If you decide not to travel, try to pressure yourself to get a cash refund instead of a voucher. It may sound too obvious, but cash is much more valuable than an airline voucher.”

If you decide to accept a later flight, you should get in line to speak with the gate agent (or the customer service desk, if directed there). But Mr. Keys recommends doing your research beforehand to see which flight works best for you, including looking at partner airlines for your carrier and asking an agent if flying on another carrier. There is space.

“When a flight is cancelled, agents have a lot to deal with, and they are trying to figure out how to resolve the situation,” he said. “They’re not necessarily trying to figure out what is the best, simplest, most appropriate flight for your specific situation.”

While you’re in line, call the airline or online travel agency you booked your flight through if you can get help before you get to the gate agent.

In recent years, passengers have taken to social media to express their disappointment with the trip or to reach out to customer service, but Mr Keyes said airlines are encouraging people to call their customer service lines.

Airlines can also offer compensation, but you are not entitled to it under federal law. In the case of JetBlue, it offers $50 in compensation if it cancels a flight within four hours of its departure and cannot accommodate a passenger within one hour of the scheduled departure time. If the cancellation occurs after the scheduled departure, this number increases to $100.

delta Passengers whose flights have been canceled between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. will be kept at one of its contracted hotels for the night, but offers vouchers of up to $100 if no room is available Which can be used for future travel.

If you think your experience warrants compensation, just ask. “Generally airlines will be more cooperative as far as compensation for flight cancellations,” said Mr. Holtz.

And be sure to be kind and polite, Mr. Keys said.

“If you’re an airline agent, especially with these hour-long holds, your entire day is spent dealing with irritable, frustrated, impatient customers who are clearly not treating you the way you would. should be done,” he said. “If they have someone who is really treating them in a human way, I think they’re more likely to actually go out of their way to try to help you.”

Mr. Keys also notes that airline agents have a fair amount of discretion, so if the person you talk to isn’t receptive, you shouldn’t give up.

“Instead of trying to lobby or argue with this person, that’s almost never going to work out,” he said, hang up and call again. “You’re going to have to settle through one of thousands of other agents, each of whom can say ‘yes.'”

If you receive a travel credit for a canceled flight and you booked directly through the airline, you will usually be able to redeem it directly through the airline’s app or website.

After logging into your account, there will be an option to apply travel credit to your purchases at check out.

Airlines usually send an email with instructions on how to redeem travel credits, but information can also be found on airlines’ websites. For example, American Airlines, Provides detailed instructions How to redeem different types of credits offered to passengers.

But the type of ticket you buy matters. If you originally purchased a basic economy ticket, which is technically non-refundable, you may need to call the airline directly to rebook.

If you booked through an online travel agency, the credit would need to be used on its site, Mr. Keys said.

Follow The New York Times Travel Feather instagram, Twitter And Facebook. And Sign up for our weekly Travel Dispatch newsletter To get expert tips for traveling smarter and inspired for your next vacation. Dreaming of a futuristic getaway or just a chair trip? check us out List of 52 locations for 2021.

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