Even if you spend months planning the perfect trip, and making sure you’ve organised every last detail, there’s no guarantee that everything will go according to plan on the day. Airlines are more innovative and advanced than ever before, but they’re not perfect. Sometimes, things can go wrong that simply mean you’re left sitting in an airport for hours at a time, waiting for a flight that’s either been delayed, or cancelled completely.

An unscheduled or unexpected delay to your vacation or travel plans can be a huge upset for many individuals and families alike. The good news is that there are things you can do to set yourself back on track. Here are the first things you need to do when you hear about your flight being delayed or cancelled.

1. Find out Why Your Travel Plans Have Changed

As mentioned above, there are many reasons why a flight could end up being delayed or cancelled. Some things you’ll be able to deal with faster than others. For instance, if a flight is cancelled due to a serious storm, you can’t simply switch over to another airline, as there’s a good chance that all of the planes in your area will be grounded for safety reasons. However, if the problem is something simple like an overbooking, you should be able to get on a new flight much faster.

The reason for your delay will also change whether you’re eligible for compensation or not. A flight that is cancelled by circumstances outside of the airline’s control does not have to provide compensation. Acts of God like weather changes count as “unforeseen circumstances” that your airline can’t do anything about.

2. Know the Rules on Compensation

If your airline delays your flight for a certain amount of time, and the delay is caused by something that is within that airline’s control, then you may be eligible for compensation. If you’re flying either to or from an airport in the European Union, or you are flying with an airline from the EU, then you will be eligible for compensation for any delays that last for longer than 3 hours.

To double-check the details of your compensation, get online after you find out about the delay and go to your airline’s website. If you can’t find any information there, speak to your airline over the phone or on social media.

3. Get an Alternative Flight ASAP

Most airports, particularly the larger ones, will have airline representatives available for you to speak at within the airport itself. However, when a flight is delayed or cancelled, those individuals are likely to be surrounded by crowds of unhappy people demanding answers. The better option is to call the airline directly and find out what you can do to get on a flight as fast as possible.

Calling the airline direct should help you to get a response quicker. If you can’t get through over the phone, you can always try communicating with the airline over social media. Many major brands now have teams dedicated to helping people on Facebook and Twitter.

4. Stay Polite and Courteous

No matter how stressed out you get about your flight situation, the worst thing you can do is take the situation out on your flight crew or airline rep. Ultimately, these people aren’t responsible for your delay or cancellation. What they are responsible for, is helping you to find a solution as quickly as possible.

Leave your anger behind when talking to the teams that are there to support you and remember that being kind to these individuals could mean that they go above and beyond to help you get on a flight sooner rather than later.

5. Relax in the Lounge

Finally, if there’s nothing you can do other than sit and wait for the next flight to be available, or wait for a storm to pass, then you might as well do it in style. Go and see if you can find an airport lounge that you can access for a small extra fee. Although you might not want to spend any additional money on your trip, you’ll quickly decide that it’s well worththe cash when you’re relaxing in a safe and comfortable spot, with access to Wi-Fi and phone charging equipment.

Some lounges also have access to free drinks, entertainment and other extras too; you might even feel as though you’ve started your trip early in the right environment.


Founder of Paisley.org.uk in 1998 and constantly strives to change peoples attitudes to the town, Brian is a self described Paisley Digital Champion who promotes Paisley via any means necessary. You can also follow me on X