Flight delay and cancellation is a common occurrence in winter. No matter what but a passenger has little control over weather-related flight cancellations. While you may not able to avoid the hassles that come with a delayed or cancelled flight completely but with little planning and ingenuity you can find your way through.
Here is how:
Prevention is better than cure
If you have plans to travel during winter season, it is good idea to have a look at weather forecast on your travel dates before you book your flight ticket. This gives you an added advantage of making your flight reservation on a day when there are less chances of weather getting awry. Opt for a direct flight instead taking a halt at a city prone to bad weather. Your objective should be to reach your destination quickly and safely. If possible go for refundable tickets, just in case you want to cancel or reschedule your travel. A refundable ticket could save you money and gives you room to book your tickets for a later date. If you are already booked on a cancelled/delayed flight, patience, luck and planning are your only recourse. Moreover, make use of the following tips.
Get the information out
More often than not it is lack of correct information that leaves passengers in the lurch at the airport. Once you know your flight has been cancelled/delayed, figure out if airline has any plans for you. You should maximize your chances of finding a solution by calling the airline while you wait in line at the airline’s customer service desk. Different carriers have different contracts of carriage, meaning that the weather-related cancellation might entitle you to food vouchers, a replacement ticket, a hotel stay or none of the above, depending on the airline. Keep your flight number and confirmation number (PNR) handy when you call. If you have booked a return ticket, make sure to confirm that if only the departing flight has been cancelled or the returning flight as well. Plan your moves accordingly.
You can also check the status of your flight quickly if you have access to the Internet. Once it becomes clear that your flight is canceled, log in to airline’s website to determine whether you already have been booked on another flight. Although you may not get the chance to consult with a representative, at least you may get some information without waiting in line or waiting for a representative to attend to you.
Know your rights
In case of flight delay due inclement weather, find out what you are entitled to. Passengers’ rights in such cases vary airline to airline and according to the terms you agreed to upon buying the ticket. Reportedly United States doesn’t enforce any minimum compensation for the inconvenience, the European Union however, does require its airlines to pay compensation and provide meals or even hotel rooms for cancellations or delays exceeding two hours. The rule applies to all flights departing from European Union countries. Other rules state that airlines are required to provide food, water and bathroom access if you are stuck on a plane or the tarmac for two hours. After three hours, you must be given an option to disembark the plane.
FIM and 240
Different airlines, different names and different rules. FIM and 240 are terms used by airlines to accommodate passengers to next available flight, even if it is a competitor’s plane. These rules deal with the obligations that an airline has to a passenger when his/her flights cancel or delay, or connecting flights are missed due to the actions of the airline. Please note all airlines may or may not have these rules.
FIM stands for Flight Intermission Manifest and it is “a document issued by an airline as a substitute ticket coupon when the passenger’s original travel is disrupted by schedule change, overbooking, or cancellation.” Rule 240 is similar to FIM. Different carriers have their own interpretation of these rules and it all depends on the class you are booked on or at the sole discretion of the airline. But there is no harm in bringing these terms in your conversation when haggling for a seat on the next flight with your airline’s customer service.