We’re not out of the woods yet. Flights are still canceled and the problem looks set to continue in the near future. The latest interruption comes from the news that French air traffic controllers are organizing a strike on September 16. Flights to France and Spain may experience long delays and there will also be cancellations. If it happens to you, the sooner you act, the better the chances of mitigating the consequences.
Here’s what to do to be one step ahead and minimize pain. Full details on what to do for each step follow.
Cancellations on the day: one way
1. Look for alternative flights as soon as possible
Sometimes you can quickly rebook with the same airline, but in order to continue your vacation, you may need to re-book with another. Which? warns that doing it and trying to recoup the cost as an expense “is very risky and can only work if the reason for your trip is exceptionally time sensitive, such as a child’s wedding or a job interview, so it is advisable to only take this step once all other options are exhausted … it is important not to accept a refund or cancel your existing booking, as this will put an end to the airline’s obligation to take you home and may make it more difficult to refund the cost of your re-routing.
Whatever your strategy, don’t waste time getting online before the alternatives run out. For new bookings, skyscanner.net is a good place to start because it includes indirect flights, which can be a useful fallback, but book directly with the airline rather than following a link to an online agent.
2. Check your insurance
Does it cover any losses you may face as a result of cancellation? Some policies yes, others no.
3. Order other arrangements
If you have booked independently, you need to assess as quickly as possible whether you will be able to save or abandon your vacation. Then you will need to notify the following that you will be late or try to postpone or cancel agreements:
Hotel / villa
It may be difficult to get a refund, which will depend on the terms of your booking. But the sooner you contact the hotel or villa company, the better your chances of saving the day.
Contracts vary, you may be able to cancel for a refund or postpone, you may not. If you are going to be late, it is vital that you notify the company or the car may be reassigned.
The same goes for car rental agreements.
4. Contact your operator
If you have booked with a tour operator, all practical matters should be resolved for you, but notify the company of the cancellation immediately – they may not know yet.
5. Apply for compensation
Airlines are notoriously bad at warning passengers of their rights. But you may be entitled to compensation for cancellations that occur within 14 days prior to departure. The rules are complicated and the amounts vary – see our complete guide.
You have similar rights, including compensation, on the return flight, but you are in a different situation. For rebooking, see point 1 above. Otherwise:
6. Insist on housing
If you need to stay extra and the airline staff will not help you, you will need to arrange the accommodation yourself and request a refund of the cost. The quickest way to find a place is probably through a site like booking.com. Keep things reasonable – three or four stars, not five – and be sure to keep your receipt for accommodation and all essential meal expenses.
7. Extend airport parking
If your return is delayed, you may be charged premium rates for the extra length of your stay when you leave the car park. Normally it will be cheaper to call the booking agent and extend the booking in this way.
8. Tell your employer
You probably don’t need to remind yourself to do this, but it’s worth calling or emailing to explain the situation and arrange the work remotely until you can return or take additional leave.
If your flight is canceled before the day of departure, you are obviously in a less stressful situation. But you would still do well to react as quickly as possible, especially if you want to rebook a flight or vacation. And (as above) check your offsetting rights.
Reading service: It is more important than ever to have it holiday cancellation insurance. Learn how to get it right travel cover before you go.