- Making Your Flight Reservation
- Performance Statistics
- Consumer Service, Safety, and Security
- Air Fares, Classes of Service, and Ticketing Rules
- Overbooking and Getting Bumped
- Delays and Cancellations
- Changing Your Ticket
- Before You Head to the Airport
- Airport Security
- Airport Lounge Clubs
- Frequent Flyer Programs
- Business Programs
- On the Plane
- Alternatives to Commercial Air Travel
- Major Domestic Carriers
Delays and Cancellations
Contrary to what you might think, the odds of having your flight cancelled are fairly low. For the most part, just 1% to 2% of all flights are cancelled in any given month.
It is important to remember that airlines don't guarantee their schedules. Unlike the practice of involuntary denied boarding, there is no federal requirement for policies regarding delayed and cancelled flights. Instead, each airline has its own policy.
For major carriers, the typical policy states that if your flight cancellation/delay was not due to weather, terrorism, labor disputes, or other "force majeure" events (in other words, something the airline could not control), the airline must confirm you on the next flight to your destination at no additional costor refund your ticket, even if it is nonrefundable. In practice, most airlines will book you on another carrier's flight and provide overnight accomodations if you can't get to your final destination on the expected arrival day. If you are delayed, ask the airline staff if they will pay for meals or a phone call.
For more informaton, the Department of Transportation publishes an article on "Defensive Flying Tips" at its Aviation Consumer Protection Division Web site (http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov).