According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, only around 1.5-2% of flights get canceled. While that’s not a significant amount, it’s pretty inconvenient for the thousands of passengers who had their travel plans disrupted due to weather, mechanical issues or other circumstances.
Frequent travelers know the drill: It varies by airline and outlined in each respective contract of carriage. Here’s an overview your options in case of a canceled flight with the main domestic carriers:
If your flight is canceled, American Airlines will rebook you on the next available flight. Additionally, if the cancellation was caused by “events within our control” or a diversion and boarding to your final destination doesn’t occur before 11:59 PM, the airline will arrange for hotel accommodations. Unfortunately weather delays do not qualify for accommodations. You can, however, request a refund in lieu of rebooking in case of a cancellation.
Alaska Airlines will rebook passengers whose flights have been delayed or canceled. Hotel accommodations and roundtrip ground transportation will be provided to passengers who are 100 miles or more away from home. This policy does not extend to cancellations caused by weather or anything else outside of the airline’s control/
It’s Delta’s policy to try and rebook passengers on the next available flight in case of cancellations. If you have the Delta mobile app, you can easily check the status of your flight, rebook and get your new itinerary. You can also utilize the Delta self service machines to print out new boarding passes as well as meal or hotel vouchers, if you qualify for them. Hotel and meal vouchers are provided to passengers who are away from home and required to stay overnight due to a delayed flight.
According to JetBlue’s Customer Bill of Rights, travelers who’s flights are canceled have the option to receive a full refund or get rebooked on the next available JetBlue flight. If a flight is canceled due to a “controllable irregularity” and another flight isn’t available within an hour, the following compensation will be issued:
If JetBlue cancels a flight due to a Controllable Irregularity and alternate transportation with a scheduled departure within one hour is unavailable, Customers are entitled to compensation good for future travel on JetBlue:
- Within 4 hours of flight: $50 credit towards a future JetBlue booking
- After scheduled departure: $100 credit towards a future JetBlue booking
United’s policy is to automatically rebook passengers on the next available flight in case of cancellations. These rebooking will be confirmed via email or text message. Passengers have the option to select a different flight departing within 24 hours if they’re not happy with the new arrangements. If there are no flights available for several hours or days, passengers can always request to stand by for sold-out flights. Travelers can also opt to fly out of a different airport or request a refund.
Overnight accommodations may be offered when flights are canceled due to mechanical issues or others beyond the airline’s control. If the gate agents run out of meal, transportation, and hotel vouchers they might be able to provide an authorization letter so you can book your own accommodations and get reimbursed afterwards. Again, flight cancellations due to weather do not qualify for these benefits though it never hurts to ask.
Overall, you can expect to be accommodated on another flight and offered some kind of reimbursement depending on the circumstance. That being said, it never hurts to ask for compensation, hotel or meal vouchers regardless of what the airline’s policy is. Being polite always goes a long way, especially when agents have angry passengers to deal with. If the line at the ticketing desk is way too long, consider going to the airline club lounge (assuming you have access), call the airline directly, or reach out to them via Twitter to get re-accommodated.
What has your experience been with getting re-accommodated after a cancelled flight? Please share in the comment section.
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