What to Do if Your Flight is Delayed or Cancelled: Handy Tips Worth Saving and Reading【Column】

Luxembourg Airport

What should you do if your flight is delayed or canceled? As someone who travels the world by airplane, I’ve had my fair share of experiences with flights not going as scheduled.

The fact that you’re reading this article suggests that you may have experienced a delay or cancellation, are worried about such irregularities, or are perhaps seeking advice to give to someone close to you. If that’s the case, take a moment to calm down and read this article.

Of course, some of you may be reading this to prepare for the future, or simply out of curiosity. Regardless, I’m glad if the information here helps you when you find yourself in a similar situation.

First Consideration: Is Your Airline a Low-Cost Carrier (LCC) or Not?

First, if a flight is delayed or canceled, check whether the airline is a low-cost carrier (LCC). Essentially, LCCs reduce costs as much as possible without compromising on safety, resulting in cheaper fares due to the lack of services typically offered by conventional airlines, including service during delays and cancellations.

When an LCC flight is significantly delayed or canceled, unless the airline indicates otherwise, you’ll usually have two options: 1) reschedule with the same airline or 2) get a refund. Also, assume no compensation for additional hotel accommodations due to flight schedules unless informed by the airline.

When facing a significant delay or cancellation with an LCC, consider your time flexibility and budget. If you have no time to spare, it may be wise to “cut your losses” and opt for a refund while finding alternative transportation.

Second Consideration: Do You Have Travel Insurance? Check the Terms

London Heathrow Airport (Iberia Airlines)

In addition to compensation from the airline, check if you’re covered by travel insurance in case your flight is substantially delayed or canceled. It’s important to understand the terms of any insurance policies you have beforehand.

For example, with travel insurance included with credit cards, there are generally two types of coverage: automatic and usage-based. With usage-based coverage, travel expenses must be paid with that credit card, so be cautious.

If Your Flight is Delayed or Cancelled ①: It’s Crucial to Accurately Understand the Situation


Check the latest information through official channels such as the airline or airport’s website, and email updates from the airline. It’s now possible to track the current location of your flight online, which is ideal.

Once it’s confirmed that there will be a significant delay or cancellation, specific procedures usually begin.

Be aware that announcements at the airport might be more accurate or up-to-date than others, so pay close attention.

If Your Flight is Delayed or Cancelled ②: Check if You Can Process Online

ANA JAL Haneda Airport Terminal 3

If a delay or cancellation has occurred and you need to make arrangements, check whether you can do so on the airline’s official website. Many processes can now be completed online.

Particularly in case of cancellations, securing a replacement flight can be urgent, as available seats are given on a first-come, first-served basis. You may be able to complete some procedures online while waiting in line at a counter, so at least check what’s possible on the web.

If online processing isn’t an option, consider calling the call center for assistance, which can sometimes offer smoother guidance than waiting in long lines at the airport.

If Your Flight is Delayed or Cancelled ③: Consider Alternative Transport Options

Tokyo-Kyushu Ferry

For domestic flights, consider various modes of transport such as bullet trains, express trains, ferries, and long-distance buses.

During winter or bad weather, ferries are often a viable option. Research all possible alternatives, which may increase your chances of successfully departing.

For international and domestic flights, also consider the possibility of connecting flights. Many airlines are flexible and might allow you to get to your destination via a connection.

Here’s a tip: many airlines have flights to both Tokyo and Osaka. For predominantly airplane-accessible locations like Hokkaido or Okinawa, flights might also be available to smaller domestic airports you hadn’t considered.

If you need to travel promptly, it’s worth considering a combination of connecting flights and other transport methods such as trains, even if it may be slightly cumbersome. Experienced travelers often employ this strategy.

What Not to Do ①: Yelling at the Counter Won’t Change Anything

Nakashibetsu Airport HAC Counter

You may have seen people yelling at airline staff when a flight is delayed or canceled, but it’s counterproductive. Airline rules are usually set in stone, so getting angry won’t cause any changes. In the meantime, other options may be filling up.

Instead of indulging in such futile actions, focus on finding alternative solutions.

What Not to Do ②: Ignoring Announcements is a No-Go

Haneda Airport International Terminal

Airport announcements often contain crucial information. Pay special attention to announcements at the gate or counter of your intended flight—they are essential.

What Not to Do ③: Inaction is Not an Option

Narita Airport

When a flight is delayed or canceled, seldom does anything resolve itself without action. Gather information, make decisions, and take necessary actions. If needed, articulate what you need and negotiate accordingly.

Stay Calm and Collected – Keep Your Antennas Up

Chubu Centrair International Airport NGO JTA Jinbe Jet

It’s natural to panic when unexpected events occur, and it’s understandable to feel angry. However, emotional reactions often don’t solve anything. Take a deep breath, remain calm, and address each issue properly.

To ensure you make the best decisions, stay alert and gather information. TRAICY will continue to share valuable insights, so be sure to check back.

This article was generated using automatic translation by GPT-4 API.
The translation may not be accurate.