No matter what you do for work, pretty much everyone looks forward to going on vacation. In fact, there’s a good chance you put aside a bit of money from each paycheck just so you can afford that dream trip — because travel is anything but cheap.
With airline travel already being quite expensive, you don’t want any changes (planned or unplanned) to result in additional costs — especially if you’re traveling with your entire family. So what can you do to ensure that interruptions to your travel don’t cause you to lose hundreds or even thousands of dollars?
Here’s a closer look at some of the most common travel predicaments airline passengers face and what you can do to protect your finances in these situations.
Flight Cancellations and Delays
Whether the result of severe weather, mechanical problems or another unexpected incident, few things can throw off your travel plans like a flight cancellation or an extended delay. While many airlines make an effort to rebook you on a later flight or provide you with a travel voucher or some other form of compensation, this isn’t always the case.
For example, on some Canadian flights, there is actually no regulation that requires that the airline provides compensation other than a ticket refund. In other situations, an airline might provide a travel voucher that is worth far less than what you could have received. Because of this, it is essential that you or delay.
Even though the airline is required to issue a refund for your ticket after a cancellation, many passengers don’t realize when they might also be eligible for additional compensation. While your destination and other factors may influence your eligibility, flight delays of over three hours and delays that cause you to miss a connection often qualify for compensation from the airline. If you were unable to fly because your flight was overbooked, your compensation could vastly exceed the price you paid for your ticket.
Enlisting the help of a claims professional can help you identify when you might be able to qualify for a travel voucher or additional monetary compensation, turning a travel nightmare into an opportunity for discounted trips in the future.
Changing Your Flight Plan
If changes to your own schedule require that you make alterations to your travel plan, cancelling or rebooking your flight can be complicated, to say the least. Policies vary from airline to airline, but most companies charge expensive fees (anywhere from $200 to $500) to discourage passengers from cancelling or changing their flights.
You do have some measure of protection, as most airlines allow you to cancel or change your flight within 24 hours after you initially purchase your tickets. This allows you to make any changes without worrying about fees.
Other airlines offer more consumer-friendly options. Southwest is one of the few airlines that doesn’t charge any fees for cancellations or changes. Other airlines allow you to purchase travel insurance when you buy your plane ticket, allowing you to cancel or change your flight plan for any reason without paying the airline fee. Some airlines also charge much smaller fees for same-day flight changes, though this option would probably add a lot of stress to your travel plans.
In addition, emergency situations (like a death in the family or a serious illness) may also help you qualify for a fee waiver. As long as you can provide proof of your emergency, most airlines will be willing to work with you to change or cancel your flight without invoking the typical fines.
By understanding your options and taking the appropriate steps to increase your compensation or reduce travel fees, unplanned changes to your travel itinerary won’t be nearly as disastrous as you might fear. When you understand your options and plan ahead, you’ll know how to respond so that you’ll still be financially okay.