What to do when your flight is delayed

Flight AwareIf you travel regularly, you know that there will inevitably be delays. Sometimes they’re not a big deal, sometimes they are. It’s always best to be prepared and know what to do in the case your flight is delayed. Here are my recommendations.

Call immediately. If your flight is delayed and there is a possibility that you’ll miss your connection call your airline’s customer care line immediately. I call from my current flight as soon as it touches down. If there is going to be a long hold time then better to get in that queue as quickly as possible!

Also, wait in line. Depending on the issue, the phone customer care line will move more quickly than the actual airport customer care group, but not always. It’s best to do both–be on the phone waiting as well as in person.

Keep checking the time. Flight delays due to a delayed inbound airplane won’t change much. But if your delay is due to a mechanical or crew issue there is always the chance it will be resolved quickly. Don’t assume that you have plenty of time! Keep checking the departure time, or set your phone to send you alerts of any changes.

Wait to head to the airport. Or not. There is a mixed school of thought when it comes to going to the airport when your flight is delayed. Some argue that there is no reason to spend valuable work time sitting at the airport twiddling your thumbs. Others think that the risk of the airline changing the time back is too great. I’ve been lucky and never missed a flight due to not going to the airport during a delay, but I have certainly had delayed departures changed back to near on-time departures. Of course, I’ve also had flights delayed further and eventually canceled.

Check FlightAware. There is a great app/website called Flight Aware, which tracks flights across the world. You can find out where your incoming plane is, giving you a more realistic idea of when your flight will depart. And honestly, it’s just so cool to see all the little airplanes moving and know they represent real-time flights. (Confession: sometimes I’ll just sit at my computer and watch them. It’s hypnotizing. #avnerd)

Be prepared. Unfortunately flight delays are a part of any traveler’s life. Make sure you always have something to do during transit, whether it’s work, a book, or catching up on your Netflix. I also recommend keeping a snack in your bag at all times, just in case you’re stuck on a plane for a few hours. Finally, a portable charger can save your sanity if you can’t get to a wall outlet and your batteries are dying.

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Readers, what do you do when your flight is delayed?


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  1. […] What To Do When Your Flight Is Delayed:  No matter how much we plan for the unexpected, there will be times when things don’t go as planned.  While it can be a total bummer, don’t let unexpected hiccups ruin your trip.  Flight delays are out of one’s control and can disrupt being able to make connecting flights.  While you may not make it to your destination at the previously planned time, there are steps you could take to “soften the blow” if you will.  This is a good read so that you’re prepared. […]


  1. Shouldn’t there be a bullet point here on trying to get on another flight? I’ve had this happen several times and have been bumped up a flight. It’s also something that people overlook because they’re not aware that airlines will make concessions. (Also if you’re an elite member this route is more successful)

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