What to do when an International flight cancels

Of all the contingencies that you can plan for in advance, an international flight getting cancelled because the airline tanked, is not something you can have a Plan B for.  If you have been following the international news on Jet Airways – one of the leading airlines in India – you would know that the company has been in troubled waters for quite some time. And while the financial crisis was looking under control, they unexpectedly announced the grounding of all International Flights with immediate effect.

My heart skipped a beat, because I have been in a situation where I have missed a connecting flight from Sydney to Brisbane, which caused a lot of problems in how our vacation days had to be realigned. Now that I reflect upon it, I think the biggest flaw in our itinerary was to plan Mumbai to Sydney to Brisbane (flights) and then a ferry-ride to Tangalooma, in a progressive lineup. Naturally, the delay in our Sydney to Brisbane leg caused us to miss the ferry ride, and we had to be stranded in Brisbane for a night.

Stay Calm and Be Nice to the airline staff

The best thing to do in such situations, where the delay is due to the airlines, and you miss a flight, you can calmly talk to the staff and explain your situation. When you are with young children, they tend to be more responsible, and provide you with accommodation, taxi fare and meals.

We kept a cool attitude, although the staff did try and deflect our request for accommodation and meals. But in the end we managed to get it all. The lesson here is to ask, stay calm and then receive.

Check your Visa Validity

However, coming back to those international passengers that probably have their visa expiring, and are unfortunately bearing the brunt of a bankrupt airline, what can they do? The first thing should be to call your travel insurance provider and see what are the facilities that you can avail as per your plan.

Many international travel policies have hotel allowances factored in for cancelled flights. Secure your hotel for the night, and make sure you have a place to rest for the night and a safe place for your belongings.

Embassy and Booking Apps

The very next thing to do is, to notify your embassy about the flight cancellation, especially if your visa is about to run out. Many countries give limited time visa, and there is a possibility that you may have to get an extension.

On a parallel stream, it is important to look for the next best available flight, that fits in your budget. Using apps like Hopper and Skyscanner can help you in finding budget flights. It may take while for your cancelled flight’s refund to come in, especially in such unique situations.

Ditch the Travel Agent and Stay off Social Media

Most travel gurus tell you to stay at the airport and book the next flight out, however if the airline is not functional, there is little that you can do at their counter. You are better off booking the next available flight on your own and not from your travel agent.

While many experts recommend taking to the social media to air your grievances, my recommendation is to channel your energies on tickets, hotel and visa extension, along with the comfort of your travel companions.   

Travel Insurance is a Must

The long and short of it, is that you can’t predict flight cancellations, and the single most important thing to do is take travel insurance when going abroad. I have had friends take advantage of flight delays and cancellations, because the policy covered it. In fact, if your baggage has been checked in and you can ask the airline staff for an amenity kit, to help you get by the day.

Other than medical aid, most travel insurance policies cover situations related to airlines and these include baggage loss or damage, delayed luggage allowance, hijacking etc.

To sum it up, during a delay or cancelled flight, keep your cool because a calm mind can look for solutions that many angry minds miss.