It’s late morning and we just took off from Toronto Airport, nearly 24 hours later then planned. Our flight to Costa Rica with Avianca was delayed, and eventually cancelled. We spent 10 hours in the airport and approximately 12 hours in a hotel waiting for our new flight. Up till now we have never even experienced a major flight delay, we’ve been lucky. It does happen and now it’s our turn.
Dealing with a flight delay or cancellation boils down to essentially two choices…get angry, stressed out, argumentative with the flight staff while attempting to explain why your plans are more important than the other 100 people on your flight and demand special treatment OR take some deep breaths, realize its beyond your control and go with the flow. Sure, this doesn’t mean be a push over and accept nothing for your troubles. Just don’t be an asshole. If the flight’s delayed, wait it out. Maybe you will get a few dollars off some terminal food, or even access to an executive lounge. If it’s delayed more than 8 hours, it could end up cancelling, like in our case. If it’s cancelled you should expect to be accommodated further. A hotel, a meal and shuttle to and from airport are reasonable expectations.
Thus far we have received a nice hotel room, $50 food voucher at the hotel, shuttle to and from, $150 each off our next flight and as an added bonus they just upgraded us to first class. Not bad! Since we faired out OK we thought we would post some helpful tips…
#1 Don’t be an asshole
We had a few reasons to be upset, we paid for a hotel at our destination that we weren’t going to make on time, we will also miss our car rental, we had some family members on a flight ahead of us with not much travel experience. It sucks. Another fellow missed an important business meeting. A solo mother was dealing with her 3 year old melting down. But at the end of the day most flights are cancelled for safety reasons and we shouldn’t expect any different. There are strict guidelines that airlines need to follow, thank god. The job of airport staff is not easy. In our case the same three Avianca staff that checked our baggage, also met us at the boarding gate, and were the only “on-site” staff dealing with the whole delay. Some travellers were demanding there luggage back immediately, the Avianca staff member was politely explaining they could get it back but it would be a few hours as he would have to personally find it for them once he accommodates the other travellers at the hotel. We chose to go with the flow, we levelled with the staff, showed some understanding and that’s why we are currently writing this blog from the comfort of first class. Ya get more flies with honey than vinegar.
#2 Be mindful of your connecting flight
Remind the flight staff of your connection and inquire about the potential wait at your next stop. The accommodations may be better or worse depending on your layover. A traveler on our plane opted to stay longer in Toronto rather then San Salvador which is probably a wise choice. Your airline should know this but things can get overlooked in the process. When asking staff about tip #2 refer to tip #1.
#3 Take what you can get
Any decent airline will accommodate you in the case of a cancellation. Accept the flight change, the hotel, the meal or whatever they offer, but don’t expect the world. If you feel its truly not enough then be kind and assertive and ask for what you think is reasonable. Bottom line, you’re not getting to your destination when you thought you would, let it go. Leave the extra perks to the families, elderly, disabled, if you don’t fit that bill don’t expect the same. Sure you could fight for another $50 credit or nicer room but assess the situation, if you don’t need it, is it worth arguing over? Call the airline hotline if the on-site staff cant provide enough for you. Heck, call it if they did provide enough, thank them and mention the name of the staff who kept their cool while other travellers broke tip #1.
#4 Stay ahead of the game
If the staff give you word that you will be staying at _____ hotel or your flight will now be at _____ terminal, be the first one there. That next stop whether its a shuttle, hotel or boarding area is gonna have a hundred peeps rolling in and waiting for the same thing as you. When we heard the hotel name they were putting us up in we left, started heading to the pick up area and took the shuttle to the hotel ahead of the rest of the gang. We were sipping a drink and waiting on our meal while the other travellers were still in line to check in.
#5 Have a drink
If that’s your thing. We can’t promise this idea will work out the same as it did for us but it’s a worthy tip none the less. Airport drinks are $10 on average. Most boarding terminals have a duty free. We found a carton of wine for $10 at the duty free. We cracked into it and had a couple glasses worth at the terminal, on the shuttle and back at the hotel. You might have to break a few rules for this illicit drink but hey, its been a long day, you deserve it.
We think thats it. You could probably refine this whole post down to go with the flow and don’t be an asshole. Keep that in mind and things will work out. Thank your airport staff, it’s not easy job.
Special shout out to Avianca staff, you were great!