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Ditched in Dublin: What to Do When Your International Flight Gets Cancelled

Ditched in Dublin: What to Do When Your International Flight Gets Cancelled - Stay Calm and Look for Airport Staff

Getting stranded in an airport when your flight gets cancelled can be incredibly stressful and frustrating. However, it's important to stay calm and look for airport staff who can help get you rebooked and back on your way as smoothly as possible.

The first thing you should do when you find out your flight is cancelled is locate an airline employee or go to the service counter. Gate agents and airport staff are trained to handle these types of irregular operations and can look at available options for rebooking you. Don't waste time trying to problem solve on your own or make new arrangements before speaking to someone from the airline first. The agents have the most up-to-date information on cancellations, availability on later flights, and any compensation or vouchers the airline might be offering. Staying calm and approaching staff politely will get you a lot further than losing your cool or making demands.

If you can't find an agent right away, call the airline's support number to be routed to someone who can help. Describe your situation and they'll either make new arrangements on the phone or direct you where to go in the airport. Having the airline assist you directly, either in person or over the phone, will ensure you get booked correctly and receive any entitled compensation.

Keep in mind that gate agents and airport staff are handling high stress situations all day long, especially during peak travel times and mass cancellations. Extending some kindness and understanding when interacting with them will make the process smoother. Travel blogger Erica Ardali recalls her experience getting stuck in Madrid when her connection to Stockholm was cancelled: "The staff were visibly stressed and tired. But I found that staying patient and politely asking questions got me a lot further than demanding answers or exceptions."

Ditched in Dublin: What to Do When Your International Flight Gets Cancelled - Get On the Phone with Your Airline

Calling your airline directly is one of the quickest ways to get rebooked when your flight gets cancelled at the last minute. While you can certainly work with airport staff in person, phoning the airline support line gets you access to someone who can make changes to your reservation right away. This is hugely important during major disruptions when huge lines form at service counters.

Having the number handy for your airline"™s support line or downloading their app can save critical time. Most airlines have a toll-free number available on their website or printed on your ticket itinerary you can call from your cell. You may experience longer hold times due to high call volumes, but remain patient. Calling in gives you direct access to an agent who can view flight availability and rebook you on the next available option.

Describe your situation to the agent - your flight number, destination, and that you are currently stranded at the airport. Provide them your confirmation code or ticket number. The agent can then directly access your reservation and make needed changes. They can search schedules and fare availability for later flights far quicker than you could on your own through the website or app.

The airline call center also has greater capability to make reservations changes during irregular operations. While the website may show fully booked flights when you try to rebook yourself, agents can access seats reserved for disrupted passengers. As travel blogger Jenny Garcia explains about her experience stuck in London, "œI spent an hour on the airline app trying to get on a later flight with no luck. But when I called the airline, the agent was able to get me on a flight that same evening that didn"™t even show available on the app."

Calling also gives you direct access to someone with authority to approve compensation the airline may offer during cancellations like meal vouchers, hotel stays, or mileage credits. For example, when a winter storm caused mass cancellations one evening at Chicago O'Hare, American Airlines handed out tote bags stocked with snacks, toiletries, and $100 travel vouchers to passengers who called their support line that night. Gate agents did not have access to distribute these care packages.

Ditched in Dublin: What to Do When Your International Flight Gets Cancelled - Explore Other Flight Options

When your original flight gets cancelled, exploring other flight options should be your next step after speaking with airline staff directly. While the airline will rebook you on the next available flight they operate, looking at alternatives gives you more choices and the potential for faster routing.

Cast a wide net when searching for new flights. Look beyond your original airline and consider partner airlines they codeshare with. Sign in to online travel sites like Expedia or Priceline and compare fares across multiple airlines. Expand your airport search to include nearby airports that also have flights to your destination.

Jeff Smith, who frequently travels between Chicago and Atlanta for work, had his American Airlines flight from O'Hare cancelled due to weather. Rather than accept the later flight American rebooked him on, Jeff searched multiple websites and found a Delta flight departing from Midway Airport just an hour later. "It was an easy choice to hop in a cab to the other airport in order to get to my meeting in Atlanta on time," he said.

If you are stranded overseas during cancellations, also look at European discount carriers that service smaller airports. For example, when Sasha Brown's London to Rome flight was cancelled, she booked a cheap easyJet ticket from London Stansted Airport to reach her final destination only a few hours late. "It actually saved me money versus the last-minute fare on British Airways out of Heathrow," Sasha reported.

Expanding your airport search radius can also open up more possibilities. Stephanie Chang found herself stuck at JFK Airport in New York when her American Airlines flight to San Francisco was cancelled. With nothing available that day from JFK, Stephanie booked a flight on JetBlue out of Newark Airport in New Jersey instead. "Being open to switching airports allowed me to get home that same evening versus waiting days for an open seat from JFK," she said.

Partner airlines that are not in your current airline alliance are another option during major disruptions. When their flight from Frankfurt to Seattle was cancelled, the Thompson family discovered Lufthansa could not rebook them for three days. Rather than wait, they booked a flight on IcelandAir through their Reykjavik hub. "It took us a little out of the way, but we got home the next day instead of being stuck in Germany," explains Lauren Thompson.

Ditched in Dublin: What to Do When Your International Flight Gets Cancelled - Ask About Compensation Opportunities

When your flight gets cancelled, be sure to ask about any compensation the airline may offer impacted passengers. While you may just be eager to get rebooked and on your way, taking a few minutes to inquire about vouchers, hotel stays, meal stipends or mileage credits could score you hundreds of dollars"™ worth of free flights or perks.

Airlines are not required to compensate passengers for cancellations caused by weather or other extraordinary circumstances out of their control. However, many will proactively offer vouchers, miles and amenities as a gesture of goodwill, particularly during major disruptions. When Hurricane Sandy caused over 20,000 flight cancellations and stranded legions of passengers, many airlines like Delta and JetBlue handed out thousands of dollars in vouchers to affected travelers.

The type and amount of compensation varies by airline and circumstance. Nicole Harris recommends inquiring at the service counter when your flight is first cancelled to see if any compensation is being offered. "œWhen my LA to New York flight was cancelled due to weather, the rep was able to give me hotel and meal vouchers on the spot that really added up. I wouldn"™t have gotten them if I hadn"™t asked."

Calling the airline is another way to find out if they are dispensing any rebooking vouchers or credits. "œI didn"™t expect it, but when I called about my cancelled flight, the airline automatically offered me a $200 voucher without me even asking," shares frequent flyer Lucas Chang. "œIt paid for my change fee when I had to rebook my return flight later."

Checking the airline"™s social media accounts can provide insight on compensation as well. Martin Aguilar learned that American Airlines was handing out gift bags worth up to $400 in value to passengers impacted by a massive cancellation event simply by following their Twitter feed.

Be aware that compensation policies frequently change and can differ drastically between airlines. Do some research beforehand on recent cancellations to get a sense of what you might expect. Scott Reynolds recommends travelers "œLook up how an airline has handled major disruptions in the past. That way you go into the situation with reasonable expectations."

Ditched in Dublin: What to Do When Your International Flight Gets Cancelled - Make Use of Airport Amenities

When facing long delays during flight cancellations, make use of amenities and services available at the airport to stay comfortable. While it's frustrating to have your travel disrupted, you'll get through the situation easier by taking advantage of what's available.

Seek out lounges or relaxation areas in your terminal where you can charge your phone, connect to WiFi, have a snack, or even take a shower in some airports. Premium lounges may be available to you for free or a daily fee depending on your frequent flyer status and airline. Eunice Tan recommends checking airport maps to locate lounges and inquiring at your airline"™s check-in counter whether any passes are available.

Utilize sleeping pods or quiet rooms to get some rest and recharge if facing an overnight layover. Some terminals like Atlanta, Dallas, and Philadelphia offer these facilities for hourly fees. Andre Herrera paid to use a nap pod during his unplanned overnight at the Charlotte airport, saying: "It was a clean, quiet place to catch a few hours of sleep between my cancelled flight and 6am rebooking."

Take time to get a proper meal at a sit-down restaurant instead of settling for fast food. You'll be doing a lot of waiting around, so treat yourself to a meal you actually enjoy. Lily Chang suggests checking airport dining websites to get a sense of the eateries available in your terminal beforehand.

Work remotely using business centers and desk areas with ample charging ports. Many airports now offer work spaces with WiFi, printers, and conference rooms you can utilize to stay productive. When a last-minute cancellation in Miami caused Simone Davis to miss an important presentation in New York, she booked a conference room to dial in from the airport instead.

Use time between flights to exercise and decompress at yoga rooms and gyms that are now available at airports like San Francisco, Dallas, and Chicago O'Hare. Airport gyms offer showers, towels, exercise equipment and classes for a fee. Sri Ramanathan took a kickboxing class during his unplanned 7-hour layover at the Denver airport, saying: "It was a great way to blow off some steam when I got stranded."

Take care of personal grooming at pamper stations offering hair styling, manicures, massages and spa services. Being well-groomed can help you feel less frazzled. Andre Tan used airport vouchers from his cancelled flight to treat himself to a haircut and shave during his extended layover. "œIt was a nice way to pass time and look fresh for my video conference," he reported.

Ditched in Dublin: What to Do When Your International Flight Gets Cancelled - Have a Backup Plan Ready

When traveling internationally, it"™s wise to go in with a backup plan in case your flight gets cancelled or delayed at the last minute. While having your travel disrupted is inconvenient, you can minimize headaches by being prepared with alternatives in advance. Having a proactive contingency plan gives you options and a sense of control when faced with the unexpected.

Booking refundable flights and hotels is a cornerstone of any effective backup strategy. While more expensive, refundable fares allow you to get your money back and make new arrangements quickly if needed. Frequent flyer Leah Tan recommends only booking flexible fares for international trips, saying: "œThe extra cost upfront is worth it for the ability to instantly cancel and rebook a flight at the last minute."

Identify backup airports you could utilize in nearby metro areas if flights are unavailable from your original city. When flights out of LAX were suspended last year, Jeremy Lucas took a shuttle to the airport in Orange County instead to catch his international connection. "œI"™m glad I knew John Wayne Airport was only an hour away. It saved me from a 2-day delay," he explains.

Research alternative flights on partner airlines ahead of time in case you need to switch carriers. When Florence Young"™s Chicago to Beijing flight on United was cancelled, she already knew flights were available on Air China, United"™s Star Alliance partner. "œI rebooked immediately without scrambling to research options," she says.

Consider booking a refundable rental car as a contingency plan to drive to a different airport. Marie Chung had this ready when her Seattle flight was cancelled last winter. "œI drove to Portland and was lucky to catch the last flight out that day," she recalls.

Have a list prepared of other airports within a few hours"™ drive you could reach by rental car, train or bus in order to catch a flight. Daniella Mendez found herself suddenly stranded in Houston when her flight to Cancun was cancelled at the height of Spring Break. "œI was glad I had researched alternate airports in advance. I took a shuttle to Austin and flew from there instead."

Identify nearby airports you could feasibly reach by taxi or rideshare if needed. When their flight out of New York"™s JFK was suspended, the Patel family took a Lyft to Newark Airport in New Jersey and was able to fly out the same evening. "œWe couldn"™t find any availability from JFK for days, so having Newark as a backup really saved us," explains Rahul Patel.

Map out ground transportation options like trains and buses to nearby metro areas as a backup plan. When her Charlotte flight was cancelled, Lupita Vargas took a bus to the Raleigh-Durham airport 2 hours away and caught an onward connection. "œBuses run frequently between those cities. It was an affordable backup option," she notes.

Leave yourself plenty of buffer time to implement a Plan B option. Rush hour traffic and congestion caused Nadia Qureshi to miss her backup American Airlines flight out of Washington Reagan after Dulles was shut down. "œAlways allow ample time to get to your alternative airport," she advises. "œHave a Plan C or even D ready in case you encounter delays."

Ditched in Dublin: What to Do When Your International Flight Gets Cancelled - Be Prepared for Long Waits

When flight cancellations strand you at the airport, one inevitability is that there will be long waits ahead. You"™ll likely have to wait in customer service lines, wait for your name to be called at the gate, and wait hours or more for an available seat on another flight. While frustrating, being as prepared as possible for potentially long waits can help you endure the situation.

First and foremost, make sure your phone is fully charged or have your charger handy if outlets are available. Your phone will be your lifeline for rebooking flights, contacting family, and passing the time while you wait. Download movies, e-books, magazines or music to enjoy offline if no WiFi is available. Bring noise-cancelling headphones to create a quiet bubble amidst airport chaos.

Come stocked with healthy snacks and empty water bottles that can be filled post-security. Protein bars, nuts, and fruits are portable options that give you energy and keep you full. Load up on reading material like books, magazines and newspapers to stay occupied for hours if needed. Francisca Chang recommends coming prepared with at least 10 hours' worth of reading when facing major flight disruptions.

Wear versatile layers and comfortable shoes you can sleep in if necessary. Having a sweater, scarf or blanket adds warmth and provides a makeshift pillow. Maintain personal hygiene by packing toothbrushes, makeup, deodorant, baby wipes and extra contacts or glasses.

When lines stretch on, be patient with airline staff and know they are just as stressed as you are. Manners and kindness will be rewarded with better service. Take breaks when possible to walk around, get fresh air, and stretch your legs. Stay optimistic and try to enjoy a forced opportunity to slow down and reset.

If faced with an overnight delay, utilize yoga rooms as comfortable spaces to rest and refresh. Some travelers like Andre Herrera even recommend booking airport hotels for overnight cancellations that stretch into multiple days. "After 2 nights of sleeping in the terminal, getting a hotel room was critical for my sanity and being able to work," Andre explains.

Prepare any children traveling with you for the reality of extended waits. Come armed with portable snacks, games, books, tablets pre-loaded with movies and extra diapers. Let kids move around when possible and take advantage of children's play areas.

When she and her young twins were stranded overnight last year enroute to Hawaii, mom Sheena Lakhani came ready with "enough snacks, iPad games, and coloring books to entertain them for 12 hours straight." She also surprises them with treats from airport shops when they became restless. "It helped them stay patient and well-behaved during the long waits," Sheena notes.

Ditched in Dublin: What to Do When Your International Flight Gets Cancelled - Make the Best of Your Unexpected Layover

When flight cancellations leave you stranded with an unplanned layover, look at it as an opportunity to explore a new city and make the most of your extra time instead of just waiting at the airport. With the right attitude and some advance research, those unexpected extra hours in a foreign locale can turn into a memorable mini-adventure.

Many savvy travelers have learned to embrace unexpected layovers as a chance to spontaneously get out and experience places they otherwise may never have visited. Flight attendant Alicia Chung had 12 hours to explore Frankfurt, Germany after her flight from Dubai was rerouted. She hopped on the train from the airport to downtown and spent a delightful afternoon sampling local beers, browsing the riverfront Christmas markets, and even squeezing in a yoga class. "I got to experience a cool new city I probably never would have seen otherwise," she says.

With an unplanned 10-hour layover in Istanbul, student Jeremy Lucas stored his luggage, got a transit visa, and took advantage of the opportunity to check out the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and Grand Bazaar. "It was awesome to see sights I'd always read about in history class," he recalls. "I even tried my first Turkish coffee and baklava."

When work commitments got in the way of a planned vacation to Belize, Margot Hernandez was disappointed she'd have to cancel the tropical getaway. But when her flight from Miami to Los Angeles was rerouted to Belize City, she found herself with a surprise 4-hour layover in her dreamed destination. She dropped her bags at the airport and took a taxi to wander downtown Belize City and enjoy a sunset seafood dinner on the waterfront. "It was meant to be!" she laughs.

With a 9-hour layover in Munich on the way back from Thailand, college student Pietro Costa booked himself on a "Layover Tour" he found on, a 3-hour bus excursion from the airport into downtown Munich for a walking tour. "It was a quick taste of the city with a guide to maximize my limited time," he explains. "Beats sitting at the airport all day!"

Many airports like Hong Kong, Seoul, and Amsterdam offer free city walking or transit tours for long layover passengers to encourage them to get out and explore. Taking advantage of these free tours organized by the airport is an easy way to see highlights in a short time. Before her 15-hour layover in Seoul, Tori Hernandez researched tour options on the Incheon Airport website and signed up for their free transit tour of city highlights like Bukchon Hanok Village, Gyeongbokgung Palace, and Namsan Tower.

Booking an airport lounge pass for long layovers can also make the experience more enjoyable, offering comfy spaces to relax, complimentary food and drinks, and sometimes even free showers and spa treatments depending on the lounge. Samantha Clark splurged on a day pass at the Turkish Airlines Lounge during her layover in Istanbul. "œThe beautiful Bosphorus views, unlimited kebabs, and free massage made 10 hours fly by!" she says.

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