How to deal with delayed/cancelled flights

by Anna Maria Cos Alcantara

Related imageRelated imageI’ve dealt with all kinds of travel mishaps my whole life – rude drivers, inefficient tour guides, poor hotel service, getting lost in a foreign city, to name a few. I’ve also dealt with delayed flights – and as a UP graduate, waiting in long lines do not faze me. But there was one thing that caught me off guard during my recent Europe trip – our Amsterdam to Rome flight got cancelled.

Picture this – we arrived at the airport with time to spare before the
scheduled boarding time. As the scheduled boarding time drew closer, people started lining up to get ready to alight the plane, but an airport staff announced that boarding would be delayed for another hour due to technical difficulties. It was fine at first – we could see the plane from the boarding gate, and we assumed that there was some issue with the mechanic, or the plane had to refuel, etc. But this went on every hour – they would announce that boarding was delayed for another hour, and we remained at the gate and kept on waiting.

Things started to get messy when other passengers had to flock the gate for their scheduled flight with another airline at that specific boarding gate, and we had to endure the crowds. Things got even messier when they switched our boarding gate to one that was on the other side of the terminal – and there was no local airline representative to be found.

Eventually, after hours of delay and switching boarding gates, the airport staff gave every passenger food coupons, but there was still no solid answer as to what was the status of the scheduled flight. After almost 12 hours of waiting for nothing in the airport, my mom and I ended up booking another flight to Rome with a different airline and stayed the night at the closest hotel.

Here are my four biggest takeaways from this experience –

Don’t panic. My mom and I got into the biggest argument because I came across as too unresponsive while she
was overly anxious about the whole situation. It’s really not that I didn’t care about what was happening, but really, I thought that it wouldn’t do anyone good if I added more stress to the actual incident. A wise professor in UP once told me, “not every situation needs a reaction” and that was what I was trying to embody at the moment. There are a lot of things that could’ve caused the mysterious cancellation of our flight – maybe if it pushed through we could’ve been on a freak accident or maybe our bags would’ve gone lost. Things happen for a reason, and mishaps like these, for me, are actually blessings in disguise.

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Stay updated. 
There are many ways to be updated in these situations. For one, you should be receiving e-mail updates from your airline. Otherwise, the official website of the airport that you’re currently in is also always a reliable source because it’s always updated in real time. But if you’re like my mom that would prefer to hear the status from an airport staff, you can always head on over to the information desk to check and hear it for yourself.

 

Be wary of budget airlines. In our recent Europe trip, we obviously wanted to save as much as we can so we decided to take budget airlines on our local flights. Sadly, this ended up being an unfortunate trade-off on our end because the budget airline did not have enough airport representatives to attend to all of the delays and cancellations. Their service desk at the airport was also a disaster – there were long lines of people waiting to rebook or get a refund that almost filled up half of the Schipol airport lobby.

 

Always get travel insurance. Travel insurance saved the day for my mom and I because it covered the cost of the flight cancellation – meaning we were reimbursed for our new flight and our overnight stay at the airport hotel. In short, they compensated for the inconvenience and ultimately made all the adjustments a bit more tolerable. If it weren’t for travel insurance, our little mishap would’ve been the most expensive inconvenience in our trip.

Mishaps like flights delays and cancellations are just as normal as other travel mishaps – and just like any of them, just keep your cool and try it in your heart not to add more fuel to the flame. Just make sure that you’ve made the necessary preparations prior to the trip so that your vacation can still remain a vacation!

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