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What to Do When Your Flight Is Canceled

Canceled Flight? How Not to Freak Out

Starting off a vacay with a flight delay or cancellation can turn things upside down — especially if you have limited time to visit with family and friends over the holidays. Instead of freaking out, here's how to handle the situation without having to be forcibly removed by airport security.

Check in early! Make sure to check in online or via phone at least 24 hours ahead of time. Sure, that doesn't mean things are always going to be perfect, but if you have already checked in before arriving at the airport, then all your flight information is secure, and your seat is confirmed.

Plan for it: While you're packing your carry-on, prep for delays, and make sure to include your phone charger, a good book, a small bag of toiletries, and even fresh undergarments. You can also pack a few of your favorite snacks to nibble on. That way, if there actually is a delay, you're already mentally prepped — and well fed.

Take a deep breath: Getting news that your flight won't be leaving for another six hours can feel like being dumped over the phone by your eighth-grade boyfriend. Take a deep breath, and compose yourself before taking action. These things happen, and there's not much you can do about it. It's best to focus on staying calm, even if you're totally freaking out.

Read on for more helpful tips.

Make the call: When you find out there's a delay or cancellation, instead of waiting in line and getting more frustrated, call your airline directly to check on alternate flights. Keep the number handy, so you are first on the line if things get chaotic. You can always make the call while waiting to talk with an airport attendant. Just having the opportunity to talk things out sometimes makes everything seem better.

Provide all information: The gate attendant is there to help, so taking your frustration out on her isn't going to make things better. Give her any information that may help you get on another flight. If an alternate airport is close to your final destination, if you are willing to take ground transport, or if you have any pressing medical conditions, then now is the time to share. Once you're done, walk away, and call a good friend to complain her ear off.

Stick close to the gate: Now is not the time to toss back a few at the airport bar. Stick close to the gate, so you're available if a new flight option becomes available. It's no fun sitting in those uncomfortable chairs staring at all the other frustrated travelers, but it's better than missing out on vouchers or important updates.

Make a buddy: The gate attendants have been working hard to make things better, so offering a fresh cup of coffee or a bottle of water is a nice offering — and may help them remember you. Being nice will get you a lot further than totally freaking out.

Ask for a voucher: If your flight was canceled due to reasons other than weather, then ask for a voucher for food or hotel accommodations, which are only provided at the airport. They might not completely cover costs, but at least it's something, right?

Laugh: That's right: laugh. Being stuck in an airport is no fun, but having a little levity about the situation makes things a bit easier to deal with. It's much more enjoyable to have a positive attitude, and sitting and sulking isn't going to get you out of there any faster. Who knows what might come form being stuck in the airport? You might make a new friend or actually have the chance to read that book everyone's been talking about.

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