Yes, I know, a day late and a dollar short. While looking at the news headlines the last few days about flight cancellations and seeing the crowds at Las Vegas Airport, I guess now is a good time for this post!
Canceled flights are the bane of any traveler’s existence. And perhaps even worse, delayed flights that leave you with a glimmer of hope but end up being canceled anyways.
Las Vegas is busy all year, but the Christmas and New Year holidays definitely take the cake. This increased demand doesn’t pair well with unpredictable weather caused by storms in the east.
What should you do if your Las Vegas flight gets canceled? The answer isn’t to panic or curl up into a ball. I know, easier said than done! Here’s a quick rundown of the steps you need to take.
Head to the gate agent
If you’re already at the airport, make your way to the agent at your gate. It’s a first-come, first-served ordeal, so make haste!
Try other strategies in the meantime.
While waiting in line, or if you found out about the cancellation before getting to the airport, try other ways to get through to someone who can help. Call your carrier, use their app or the airline’s, tweet at them, or call your travel agent if you have one. Did I mention using their app??
Do some research
Before leaving home, it’s a good idea to review your airline’s cancellation policy to see what you’re entitled to and when. You can usually find a link on the FAQ or customer support page.
Once you find your flight canceled at the airport, you should look at the flight schedules and routes and see what potential flights you could get on. Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get the flight you expect, but it definitely helps to have your own suggestions ready.
In addition, if you used your credit card to pay for your ticket, check if your card offers any travel protections. Most people forget this one!
Ask for a Rebooking
Airlines will usually book you on the next available flight, typically at no additional cost to you. However, this may be different depending on the reason for cancellation and how difficult it is to rebook you.
Please Note: So many things cause canceled flights, but the gate agent (or person on the phone) is not one of them. Don’t be a jerk! A sympathetic tone goes a long way in helping things get resolved. Breathe and speak as calmly as possible.
Prepare to spend the night.
Airlines aren’t required to do this, but you can ask them to put you in a hotel or provide you with a hotel voucher. This is more likely to work if the issue is mechanical or staff-related, as opposed to weather-related. You might also be able to get food vouchers.
If you can’t get put up for the night, you’ll have to weigh your options between paying for your own hotel stay or toughing it out at the airport.
Ask for a refund
According to U.S. federal law, airlines are required to refund you if your flight is canceled or significantly delayed. Important caveat: the airline decides what “significantly delayed” means.
Airlines don’t particularly want to give refunds, but they also don’t want any trouble. They’ll likely do so without much fuss if you tell them you want a refund.
If they don’t, be persistent but not aggressive. If necessary, contact the U.S. Department of Transportation and file a complaint.
At this time of the year, pack a lot of patience, get to your airport early as possible, check-in as early as possible, and keep an eye on the fight boards. Again, the airline app often has updates before they post them in the airport.
If all hope is lost and you need to cancel some reservations, hit the Vegas groups on Facebook. Often there are people in the groups who can help you cancel show tickets or find others who can buy your tickets for any shows or restaurant reservations you may miss.
Finally, have no fear; Vegas will be here when you arrive; we aren’t going anywhere!