What to do when your flights are delayed or canceled!

Updated: Nov 17

Travel mishaps don't have to ruin your trip


Listen to this episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. I recently got back from traveling to Ibiza, Spain for a wellness travel advisor conference. It was completely incredible! When I thought about writing this article, it was going to be all about Ibiza and the amazing wellness destinations I wanted to tell you all about.


But then I started my trip home. Based on those experiences, I decided to address the topic of what to do when things go wrong while traveling. First-hand knowledge is a powerful tool!


I reached the Ibiza airport and everything was great. Checked my bag, went through security, waited around, and then boarded my flight to Paris. Right before takeoff, the captain came on the speaker and announced that there was a little mechanical problem, and it would be just a few minutes’ wait. Then it became, “We think you’d be more comfortable waiting inside the airport.” So we all disembarked and sat around watching the departures board for updates.


At first our flight was delayed two hours, from 5 pm to 7 pm. Then an additional hour. And then it happened. My flight was canceled, only to be rescheduled to depart at 10:10 am the following day.


My problem was that I would miss my connecting flight home through Paris.



Here’s what to do if your flight cancels and you’re already at the airport:


Don’t panic.

(I actually didn’t take my own advice and I did panic for awhile because I didn’t want to pay for an additional one-way ticket home from Paris.)


Pick up your checked bag from baggage claim. They’ll unload all the bags from the plane, so don’t forget to get yours.


Do whatever you can to work out your flight situation with the airport personnel who are there.


They're your first, best source of finding a solution.


Call the airline.


When it became apparent that I wasn’t going to make it to Paris in time, I started working on when I was going to get home from Paris. The easiest way to work on it from the Ibiza airport was just to call the airline directly. If you’re at a larger airport, it might be easier to talk to the airline agent who’s right in front of you, but in this case calling was the best way to go.


I ended up getting booked on the exact same flight I’d been on, only a day later. There was no additional charge, so the inconvenience was just working out all of the other details.


Contact the airline in other ways.


Sometimes there are long hold times when calling, and you might be able to get through another way. Try tweeting them on Twitter, messaging them through their Facebook page, and texting through their texting system. Since you don’t know how you’ll get through the quickest, try it all!


Notify your travel advisor.


PLEASE don’t forget to notify me, your travel advisor. Especially if it’s at the beginning of your trip, I’ll be able to advise the hotel and transportation of your delay and work out all the kinks. If you want me to switch your flight, I may or may not be able to work it out quicker than you will. Try to work it out in person first. Most likely I’ll have to get on the phone with the airline myself to switch things around, so you might be able to do it more quickly.





If it’s an overnight delay, the airline may give you a hotel voucher.


In the U.S., airlines are not required to give you a hotel voucher for an overnight delay, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. Sometimes it depends on whether the delay is due to something outside their control (the weather), in which case they aren’t required to give you a hotel voucher, or something within their control (mechanical failure), in which case they may be obligated to help you with a hotel stay. Either way, you should definitely ask.


Now that my flights were taken care of, there just remained the hotel in Paris. Since my flight had canceled so late in the day, it was obviously outside of the hotel’s cancellation window. I canceled the hotel, and rebooked for the following night. I was hopeful that they would just adjust my stay and not require me to pay for an additional night, but my particular hotel didn’t give me any refund and did charge for another night. Luckily I had booked a pretty inexpensive property close to the airport, so it wasn’t extremely expensive to re-book.



Find the bright side.


The only thing left for me to do, other than notify my family of my new flight status, was to enjoy being in Paris. Even if you’re not in an amazing city like Paris as you’re delayed, try to find a way to make your experience a little more enjoyable.


If you’re stuck at the airport, find a restaurant—or sometimes all that’s available is a vending machine.

If you’re at a hotel, go for a walk and see what’s in the area. You might be pleasantly surprised.

If you’re waiting somewhere, get to know the people in your same predicament. You might make a great friend along the way.


In conclusion: it will work out. You’ll arrive at your destination, whether it’s home or at your trip location. You’ll get through it and soon enough it will just be a memory. Learn from it and enjoy whatever bits of it that you can along the way.