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How to handle unexpected flight delays

By LLM Reporters on 4th August 2018

LegalExpert.co.uk discuss the best ways to handle unexpected flight delays.

Nothing beats the excitement of a summer holiday – the anticipation the week before, the last minute packing, the rush when you feel the sand on your feet and the sun on your face. The trip has been meticulously planned down to the last detail and everybody is looking forward to time off work and school. So, of course the last thing anybody wants is for things to start going wrong. A missing shoe here and there or discovering that somebody forgot to bring the travel sweets are minor problems, but bigger issues can negatively affect your holiday experience. Finally arriving to the airport with bags of luggage and excited children only to find out the flight has been significantly delayed or cancelled. Everybody goes into a panic, the airport staff are overwhelmed and holiday goers are angry and annoyed – the entire situation is less than ideal. So just how can you mitigate the effects of a flight delay? These are the steps you can take to diffuse the situation.

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Flight delays can often cause a lot of confusion and leave passengers feeling uninformed about the situation

Know the cause

Flight delays can often cause a lot of confusion and leave passengers feeling uninformed about the situation. This can add fuel to the fire, leaving you feeling restless, frustrated and exasperated with the entire situation. So, remedy the confusion and discover the cause of the delay as this can put you back into control of the situation.

The most effective solution is to speak to an airport manager or the flight desk for the airline you are flying with; they will be able to shed some light on the delay as well as informing you of future actions and proposing where you should go. It is crucial to remember during this time that flights are often delayed in order to preserve the safety of passengers, so approach the situation with a calm and collected demeanor. This will allow airport staff to help you to the best of your ability.

Flight delays often happen because of poor weather, airline faults, air traffic congestion, security concerns, maintenance issues, refuelling problems, other flight delays and boarding/booking errors.

Uncover your rights

In the event of a flight delay, passengers are often entitled to compensation, so it is important to know your rights. In this situation, compensation is more likely to be given if the problem was within the control of the airline – e.g. lack of pilot or crew, technical problems with the aircraft, flight cancellation due to low booking numbers. The amount of time the delay occurs for will also affect compensatory rights and if the flight is delayed for three hours or more, a passenger can make a claim. The type of compensation will differ between airlines, but will often involve monetary compensation, the rescheduling of connecting flights or complementary hotel bookings. It is important to recognise, however, that airlines may be unable to reschedule connecting flights if these were booked with a different airline or company. They will often not compensate for the other flight when this is the case. This may be worth considering before making a booking and could potentially save you money in the long run if the flight is delayed.

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Flight delays often happen because of poor weather, airline faults, air traffic congestion, security concerns, maintenance issues, refuelling problems, other flight delays and boarding/booking errors

Inspect your insurance

It is also important to remember that travel insurance can also cover flight delays and insurers will often cover lost funds through offering compensation. Depending on your insurance package, you may be able to claim travel costs and expenses which can relieve money worries during flight delays or cancellations. So if you experience a delay, make sure you go over your insurance policy to find out if this is incorporated in your insurance deal. Moreover, you might want to opt for an insurance package that covers delays and cancellations before jetting off to you destination – this can ease your travel worries and ensures you are fully prepared for the getaway.

Getting to those tricky to reach places

Flight delays are not always as easy as rearranged flights and complimentary hotel stays and can become particularly frustrating when you are travelling to them hard to reach places. When seaplanes, local ferries and multiple taxis are booked, you might end up missing all of your subsequent stops, making the delay even more costly and inconvenient. So, if you are going to a remote location, try and book all travel with the same company – particularly the flights. This makes it easier for airlines to reschedule. However, when booking more remote travel options, it is worth considering purchasing a travel insurance package that covers these items. Alternatively, you can purchase through a travel agent that will book everything for you. In the event of cancellation you might be able to contact the agent who may rebook travel; however, you should check beforehand if this will be arranged in a compensatory manner or incur extra fees.

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Flight delays are not always as easy as rearranged flights and complimentary hotel stays and can become particularly frustrating when you are travelling to them hard to reach places

How to make a claim

EU flight delays that are over two hours require airlines to offer passengers food and drink, access to phone and emails and accommodation if the flight is delayed for an overnight period. This can be organised by getting into direct contact with the airline. Alternatively, if the flight is delayed for 3 hours or more because of a problem within the airlines control, you are entitled to reimbursement which will fluctuate in value depending on the airline and the distance of the flight. If the issue occurs due to bad weather or airport strikes, compensation may not be applicable. To begin a claim, you will have to make contact with the airline through their website or by phone call. If the flight is delayed for 5 hours or more and you opt not to take the flight, you are entitled to a full refund for the delayed or cancelled flight and any connecting flights within the same journey. If you still wish to pursue your travel plans, you are entitled to a rearranged flight in addition to compensation. This can be claimed by contacting the airline customer service team for which you will need all of your flight information. Be sure to keep all correspondence with the airline in case you encounter difficulties further down the line. To get additional support, you can contact the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) who will be able to help you with your claim. You can also consult a legal expert, who can advise you on exactly what you should be claiming for.