We’re not out of the woods yet. Flights are still being canceled and the problem is expected to continue through the summer as airlines have been ordered to cancel more departures to avoid further disruption. If it happens to you, the quicker you act, the better chance you have of mitigating the consequences.
Here’s what to do to stay ahead of the crowd and minimize the pain. Detailed information on what to do for each step follows.
Cancellations on the day: outgoing
1. Find alternative flights as soon as possible
Sometimes you can quickly rebook with the same airline – but to continue your holiday you may need to make a new booking with a different one. The? warns that doing so and trying to reclaim the cost as an expense “is very risky and may only work if your reason for travel is exceptionally time-sensitive, such as a business trip.” B. a child’s wedding or a job interview. It is therefore advisable to only take this step once you have exhausted all other options, it is important not to accept a refund or cancel your existing booking as this will end the airline’s obligation to take you home and make it more difficult could do to reclaim the cost of your alternative flight.” Whatever your strategy, don’t waste time going online before the alternatives sell out. For new bookings, skyscanner.net is a good place to start as it includes indirect flights which can be a useful fallback – but book direct with the airline rather than following a link to an online agent.
2. Check your insurance
Does it cover any losses you might incur as a result of the cancellation? Some policies do this, others don’t.
3. Sort other arrangements
If you booked independently, you need to weigh as soon as possible whether to save or give up your vacation. Then you must warn that you will be late, or try to reschedule or cancel the arrangements:
It can be difficult to get a refund – it depends on the conditions of your booking. But the sooner you contact the hotel or villa company, the better your chances of salvaging the situation.
Contracts vary, you may be able to cancel or reschedule for a refund, you may not. If you are going to be late it is important to let the company know or the car can be rebooked.
The same applies to rental car contracts.
4. Contact your network operator
If you have booked with a tour operator all practical issues should be sorted out for you, but inform the company of the cancellation immediately: it may not be known yet.
5. Right to Compensation
Airlines are notoriously bad at educating passengers on their rights. If canceled within 14 days of departure, you may be entitled to compensation. The rules are complicated and amounts vary: read our comprehensive guide (telegraph.co.uk/travel/advice/flight-cancellation-compensation-delayed-how-refund-claim-money-2022)
On the return flight you have similar rights – including compensation – but you are in a different situation. For rebooking see point 1 above. Otherwise:
6. Insist on housing
If you need to stay extra nights and the airline staff does not help, you will have to organize the accommodation yourself and claim the costs back. The quickest way to find something is probably through a website like booking.com. Keep things reasonable – three or four stars, not five – and be sure to keep receipts for accommodation and any essential meal expenses.
7. Expand airport parking
If you return late, you may be billed for the extra length of stay as you exit the car park. It is usually cheaper to call the booking agent and extend the booking that way.
8. Inform your employer
You probably don’t need to be reminded, but it’s worth making a call or email to explain the situation and set up remote work until you can come back or take extra vacation time.
Cancellations in advance
Obviously, if your flight is canceled before the day of departure, you are in a less immediate stressful situation. Nevertheless, you would do well to react as quickly as possible – especially if you want to rebook a flight or holiday. And (as above) check your compensation rights.
Reader service: It’s more important than ever to have cancellation insurance. Learn how to find the right one travel coverage before you go.