Dem bad weather blues

Where do you stand if your flight is cancelled by the airline?

Well, it depends on the cause. If it’s the airline’s fault, such as a mechanical issue, then they assume more flexibility with re-accommodation, but if it’s extreme weather, then all airlines have been affected and it’s simply out of everyone’s control.

Delayed Flights

If your first flight is delayed, and you stand to miss your connecting flight (as long as it’s all on one ticket) then the airline will offer you the option to rebook, at no charge, within seven days of your original departure date. At that time, you can also change your return date to match the original duration. 

If the flight is delayed due to something within the airline’s control (crew change, mechanical), they will rebook you with another airline to your destination point, ie switch you to WestJet from Air Canada.

Delays with charter flights such as Sunwing and Transat are not governed by the same rules however.

Cancelled Flights

Again, it depends on why it’s being cancelled. If it’s within the airline’s control, they will re-accommodate you to your destination on any airline with whom they have a working relationship. They even have reciprocal agreements with VIA Rail, within certain city pairs.  You will be rebooked in the original class of service: Economy, business, etcetera.

If the cancellation is due to weather issues, they will re-accommodate you within their own system on the first available flight. You could opt instead to take a refund for that portion of the ticket after it’s been cancelled, and make alternate arrangements.  

If you get stuck en route due to a flight cancellation, the airline is responsible for your overnight accommodations, meals, and airport transfers.

Unaccompanied Minors & Youths

It’s every parent’s nightmare that their child will get stuck somewhere en route, to be left to fend for themselves. Both Air Canada and WestJet charge a fee for unaccompanied minors 5 - 11 years. These youngsters are only allowed on point to point flights, no connections allowed. Parents and/or guardians are required to remain in the airport until the flight actually departs. If the flight does get cancelled, an airline employee will remain with your child until you are reunited. 

Youths 12 - 17 years are allowed to travel on connecting flights. You can opt to pay the unaccompanied minor service to insure maximum supervision, but it is not mandatory. Should your youth get waylaid en route due to flight misconnects or cancellations, then the airline agents will arrange for any required accommodations and/or meal vouchers. Be sure to prepare your child for such a scenario, and advise them to always approach a ticket agent for assistance.

What do you do at the airport when the cancellation or extended delay announcement has been made? Get in line to talk with the airport agent, but also immediately get on the phone either to the airline directly or to the travel consultant who made the original booking, you will maximize your options this way. Usually the airport agent needs to authorize the required re-validation.

In cases of extended severe weather situations, a number of airlines have applications on their websites which advise you of your rebooking options. Check to see if your city has an applicable ‘travel alert’.

Never assume that a flight is going to be cancelled and simply be a no-show. You invalidate your refund or rebook rights that way.

Winter is here! Grin and bear it!

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About the Author

Joy has long been a believer in the art of travel: the belief that a vacation is something to be anticipated savored and then long remembered as one of life’s great adventures. 
Website: thejoyoftravel.ca

You can contact Joy at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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