When Should You Speak Up About a Flight Delay?

Jun 21, 2019

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Flight delays can happen to anyone, no matter your airline elite status. It could be a short delay that doesn’t affect you too much, or you could miss your connecting flight. Delays can be extremely frustrating to all parties involved, but when does it become an actual issue? TPG reader Brian wants to know when it’s appropriate to speak up about a flight delay…

Everyone is terrified to speak up anymore because of horror stories of people trying to stick up for themselves being kicked off of planes or refused access.

TPG Reader Brian

Talking to a gate agent about your delay frustrations by yourself may seem intimidating. You may not know if you could be the only one feeling confused or irritated. If you do have the opportunity to talk to fellow passengers around you and ask if they share the same concerns, that could make you feel more at ease before starting a conversation with an airline employee.

However, it really depends on when you should start speaking up. Weather delays are different from mechanical delays, and flight diversions are in a category of their own. Here are some things to keep in mind once you’ve heard your flight has been delayed:

  • When in doubt, contact the airline via social media (i.e. Twitter or Facebook). Some airlines are more consistent in responding than others, but it still doesn’t hurt. Gate agents may already be dealing with a long line of frustrated customers.
  • Even if your flight is only delayed by a little, it doesn’t hurt to start looking at alternative options. If the airline you’re flying has an app, check other options on your own, so you’re prepared to find an alternative flight.
  • Bad weather can only last so long, so start looking into flights later that day or even the next day.
  • It also depends on the time of your flight. If you have a late-night flight, you should start looking for morning flights and overnight accommodations.

We asked travelers from the TPG Lounge when they speak up about a flight delay.

  • “The first instance they change the time on the board or make an announcement. I try to understand what the delay is about and check my options, speak directly with the agent at the gate. Sometimes when you are lucky, the pilot will be there providing instructions, eavesdropping is your best friend. And always try to stay calm,” said TPG reader Robert.
  • “As soon as I know I’m gonna miss my connection,” said TPG reader Amber.
  • “I normally wait because they get flooded with people and they normally make an announcement. If there is still a line after an hour and no announcement, I call in,” TPG reader Trey.
  • “I don’t even care about rolling delays as long as nobody summons me out of the lounge. I’ll get to my destination when I get there,” TPG reader Ashley.

When you do determine the right time to speak up about a flight delay, make sure you know what to say, if compensation is appropriate and how to get that compensation if applicable. Additionally, many credit cards offer trip delay insurance, so you may be eligible for compensation from your credit card.

Related: The Best Credit Cards With Travel Protections

Make sure to hold onto any receipts, tickets and vouchers. It can also be helpful to ask for the official reason the flight was delayed in the first place. Each airline also has a specific delay and cancellation policy that you should look into for possible compensation. Some airlines, like American Airlines, offer on-the-spot compensation to passengers via the tablets held by staff members.

It’s important to add your email address and mobile number when checking in for your flight — this way airlines can keep you updated in the event of a delay and you can immediately start searching for alternative options. Also, familiarize yourself with each airline’s compensation and accommodation policy in the case of a delay.

Bottom Line

Airport delays can have numerous causes, so remember that every situation is different. If there is severe weather, while it may be beneficial to ask the agent for an estimated time of departure, there is little the airline can actually do about it. When traveling solo, look for other alternative flights before everyone else on your flight beats you to it. Stay calm and think out your options.

Featured image by mikkelwilliam / Getty Images.

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