How to Avoid Your Flight Being Cancelled
There’s nothing more frustrating than getting to your gate at the airport only to find out your flight has been cancelled.
If this has never happened to you than you’re one of the lucky ones, but statistics show that if you fly regularly enough it’s bound to happen before too long.
In September the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report that contained one very important piece of information: More flights are being cancelled than ever before.
It is estimated now that 1 out of every 100 flights is cancelled (a 24% increase from 2010). This might not seem like a lot, but because most flights are often fully booked these days you could find yourself waiting for hours before you’re able to be re-seated on another flight.
But this is all just bad luck, isn’t it? Surely there’s nothing you can actually do to stop YOUR flight from being cancelled? Well, yes and no…
While there is nothing you can do to prevent a particular flight from being cancelled, by choosing your flights more carefully (i.e. where you fly from, what time you fly at and what kind of flight it is) you can lower the odds of your flight being cancelled.
1. Check a flight’s track record (cancellation/delay statistics) before booking – Because airlines often run the same flights over and over again (e.g. American Airlines’ flight AA87 from London Heathrow to Chicago O’Hare) it is possible to find out the statistics for individual flights to find out how often they are delayed/cancelled.
Most airlines’ websites won’t reveal this information, but it can easily be looked up on FlightStats.com instead.
By working on the premise that the industry average for flight cancellations is 1% you can see whether the flight you’re booking has a better or worse cancellation rate than the industry average.
Note that it can sometimes be worth paying a little bit more for a flight that has a better track record as it can save you a lot of time and stress later on.
2. Flying internationally? Make sure to fly before 6:30pm – Some airports close down for the night time, so if your late night flight is delayed you might have to wait till the morning for the next one.
However, if you’re on a flight that’s due to leave before 6:30pm and it gets delayed/cancelled, there’s a good chance that you can be re-booked before the airport closes.
3. Flying domestically? The best time to fly is 9am – These flights are rarely delayed and cancelled, as you’ll be flying early enough in the day that there won’t be a backlog of flights backed up.
4. Nonstop flights are less likely to be cancelled – Flights that fly nonstop are less likely to be cancelled than shorter flights that require connections, making them worth the extra cost involved.
5. Avoid flying from major airports during ‘rush hour’ – Flying from a major airport ‘hub’ (such as Chicago O’Hare, Dallas Fort Worth and London Heathrow) during peak times is asking for trouble.
Why? These airports are typically so busy that they have more flights scheduled at these times than they’re legally allowed to handle, meaning several of them often get delayed/cancelled.
Let’s say you do all of these things and your flight still gets cancelled. What then?
There are two things that you can do here:
- Firstly, know that it is easier for the airline to re-book passengers with only carry-on luggage, meaning they’ll be re-booked more quickly. Keep this in mind when packing.
- Secondly, when your flight is cancelled you’ll probably be told that they can get you on the same flight the following day. Despite this, ask to be put on the ‘standby list’, even if they tell you it’s full up. Sometimes spaces can appear and it’s good to be in the running.
Following the tips above should help your journey to go as smoothly as possible. Lastly, always remember to be polite a courteous even if your flight is cancelled, as raging about it won’t get you anywhere (literally).
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