What To Do On A Delay
Flight delays of any length are extremely frustrating and following a recent 11 hour delay I was involved in. I decided to write this blog post, with the intention of preventing you from the frustration and stress involved. You’ll notice I don’t go into compensation or what your entitled to, the reason is I’m not a fan of the “claim culture” as ultimately you’re forcing the airline to charge more in the future or worse still, go out of business with the job losses that goes with it.
On any delay it’s a good idea to have the information for your ongoing journey with you, you can then call ahead to the train company, coach company, parking company or whoever is going to pick you up from the other end. What if you had to stay overnight? Have the airport hotel details to hand so you can book ahead of time. It’s worth booking a hotel that doesn’t charge cancellation fees too, then if your plans change you don’t incur extra costs.
Find out who the handling agent is, as the handling agent deals with all delays.
Locate the V.I.P lounge
Short Delays up to 3 hours
Flight delays are caused by numerous reason but the most common is a blocked toilet. 188 people all needing the loo at the same time and unable to go is a problem. You can also thank the person who thought it was a good idea to stuff a nappy down the toilet. The best way with this kind of delay is to just take it in your stride, it’s not a huge problem in the grand scheme of things. So go to the information desk and check with the handling agent when to report to the gate, also tell them where you’re going to be. I recommend you find the Vip lounge, this is because you’ll be away from stressed passengers all queuing in the cafe or worse still burger king. The staff in the lounge will have the time to update you and you’ll be able to relax, have some food and drinks all for the entrance price.
Longer Delays (where you stay at the airport)
The biggest complaint that customers have with delays is lack of information. Sometimes the airline states that the aircraft has gone technical. If you are not an aircraft engineer then that’s really all they can say because the jargon wouldn’t make any sense or any difference. Once again find the handling agent for your airline and let them know you’ll be in the Vip lounge. With long delays I would check into the lounge first before it’s full.
During a long delay you maybe entitled to vouchers as compensation, personally a few euros towards airport food is not worth the stress of the now huge queue in the cafeteria or the crappie food, I would take them and give them to a family who really needs them.
Longer Delays (where you leave the airport)
First let me point out you shouldn’t just leave the airport because if the situation changes you could miss your flight. I’m really referring to, when the airline decides you’ll be comfortable elsewhere. The handling agent will sometimes organise for all the passengers to go to a local hotel for food and refreshments. It is not compulsory for you to go but you’ll miss out on what is on offer if you don’t. This is usually for a daytime delay and the handling agent will normally give you an identification card, so when you return you don’t have to re-check in. It is unlikely you’ll take your hold luggage as this will only delay the flight further. (Another good reason to only travel with hand luggage). Also if you have purchased goods in the airport departure lounge you will have to have them sealed by airport security otherwise you will have a problem when you go through security again all the rules still apply, remember no liquids.
The handling agent want you to be comfortable but don’t expect them to pay for a room or even wi-fi. If you know how long you’ll be there and want a room ask the reception for a special rate. You should be able to use the hotel facilities, however I wouldn’t recommend jumping in the pool as you’ll struggle to dry off before you leave.
Longer Delays (Overnight)
Once again I wouldn’t advise just leaving the airport as the airline want to keep you together, this is because if the departure time changes you could miss the flight. It’s important that you appreciate that your holiday has ended and you cannot and shouldn’t demand a 5 star hotel or villa just because you have just left one. The handling agent will have to source rooms at short notice which means they won’t have a lot of choice especially at peak season. It is likely that you will not have your check in luggage with you, if this is the case then your accommodation will provide soaps and towels to freshen up.
How to obtain medication whilst on a long delay is a question I get asked a lot and prevention is better than trying to find a chemist in a foreign country in the middle of the night. Check out my travelling stress buster post, it is full of tips which will help in a delay situation too. Nappies and baby formula is another problem and again I would recommend you bring more than you think you’ll need.
Travelling when less mobile is difficult at the best of times and during a delay can add extra stress but it doesn’t have to. Preparation and communication are the key to a stress free delay.
Start by buying the correct holiday insurance a lot of policies are purchased on price alone. This will go a long way to recover any out-of-pocket expenses therefore allowing you to use taxis instead of coaches or even change flights so you don’t have to deal with the stress of a delay at all.
Ensure you have extra medication
Do not wait for problems to arrive, speak to the agent or the airline staff to ensure your needs are met. Often after a delay any pre-booked seating arrangements are void as the airline may have to substitute a different aircraft or sub contract another airline to take you.
Now this next Tip is one that has to be done correctly. Use social media?
Most companies use social media to communicate with their customers, the person who is responsible will not be as busy or stressed as local staff and may have access to information and services you can’t get local. The BIG rule is don’t rant, be polite:-
“Hi I wonder if you could help, we are currently on a delay in Lanzarote and we’re due to fly back at 11:00, as this is unlikely can you *……………”
*tell them what you need.
You may require:-
Ensure I’m allocate the correct seat as I’m (disabled, 6ft 5″ etc)
Find me accommodation close to the airport
Change my flight
Sometimes just asking for help will result in some positive action.
Also when travelling with just hand luggage you are more flexible, ask the airline to put you on another flight. This is ideal if you have to get back because of work or an appointment, you could travel to East Midlands instead of Manchester. Just check your onward travel arrangements first as there’s no point if there’s no train or bus. Ask the airline if they will supply the ongoing transport too, as you never know. I wouldn’t recommend this for families or if your car is parked at the airport.