What to do if Your Flight Gets Delayed or Canceled Before a Tour
Flight delays can put a fizzle on your trip excitement faster than just about anything we know.
Truly, few things are worse than watching the clock run out on the window you have to make your connecting flight, and the anxiety that comes from knowing you won’t make it to your destination on time.
This week, as we watched the FAA have a complete meltdown, Miranda from our team has been stuck on the East Coast. So we asked her to share her recent – scratch that – *current* experience with flight delays + cancellations, should you ever find yourself in such a situation while jet-setting.
Fingers crossed this particular brand of travel-torture never happens to you, (especially ahead of a women-only Damesly tour!), but just in case, here are some tips for how to deal.
First things first, get travel insurance
Before you depart, make sure you have some level of travel insurance. Travel insurance is one of those things that you think is a waste of money, until the day you need it.
We require it on all of our tours for exactly this reason – stuff happens!
Each insurance plan will have different inclusions, but almost all will cover flight delays, trip interruptions, and reimburse you for costs incurred through that process.
Also, we’re not talking about the travel insurance you get from ticking a little box for +$15 while booking your flight. That sort of coverage is not as effective as getting an actual policy.
When we say get travel insurance, we mean go to a travel insurance providers website (recommendations below), and pay for a proper policy that covers the length of your trip.
Your flight is delayed, now what?
Ok, you’re in the airport and just heard the announcement — your flight is delayed.
Before a tour with us, you’ll be added to a Whatsapp group with your Damesly trip leader, and given emergency contacts of our team back at HQ. If your flight is delayed, but you can still make your connecting flight (or you have only one flight), let the group know in your Whatsapp chain.
Our team is constantly tracking flight numbers, so if you have only one flight and it’s arriving later, we will already know.
If your flight delay is so significant that you won’t be able to make your connecting flight, please let HQ know about the situation. There’s not much we can do from our office, but we will inform our team on the ground that you won’t be there for pickup.
If things get worse and your flight gets cancelled
Last week, Miranda and her husband were touring PA + NJ for the first time since their cross-country move to Portland last December. On Monday, they attempted to fly home.
Upon arrival to Newark (EWR), their flight was still on time (hooray!). So they popped through security (TSA pre-check, babes!) and headed to the gate.
Then the delay notifications started coming in. Flight’s delayed 1 hour… then another… then another… and finally, (after several drinks and a handful of new-found friends-at-the-bar later) the dreaded…cancellation. *womp womp*
Get in line, and get on the phone
When several flights are delayed (as we saw this week), everyone will be running to the customer service line. Follow them!
Get in line as quickly as you can to see your rebook options. And also dial the customer service number of your airline while you’re in line. Depending on who you reach first, tell them the situation, and ask about alternative flights and if necessary, alternative airlines.
Release control, because you really can’t do anything
We know it sucks SO bad to know you won’t be able to make it the first day of the tour. But it’s even worse if you beat yourself up over it or dwell on it.
It is what it is – don’t let it ruin your entire vacation!
Once you’ve been rebooked on a new flight, let HQ and your Damesly trip leader via Whatsapp know your new arrival time.
We will do whatever we can to join you with the rest of the group. This may mean booking an additional flight for you (which will incur an extra expense) or it may mean that your Damesly trip leader stays back and waits for you while our local guide takes the group forward.
Each tour is different, so it’s hard to say which scenario will prevail, but know that we will do whatever we can to link you to the rest of the group.
You will likely miss some of the activities and sights, but you will still be able to do, see, and experience a lot.
Unfortunately, we aren’t able to provide any sort of partial refund for days missed.
Organize your expenses
From the moment of your delay, start taking photos of your receipts.
Each meal, each hotel stay, will equal another reimbursement.
If you’ve checked bags and now need to buy another toothbrush or some face wash, travel insurance will kick in and reimburse you for these things — but you’ll need to have everything organized, clear, and with proof of payment (usually receipts or credit card statements, or both).
Reconsider checking bags
We know it’s hard to travel for 10 days out of a carry-on. But what’s even worse? Not having anything make it to your destination because of delays, cancelled flights, and more.
Having seen this happen many times before, we strongly suggest not checking your bags when you travel, especially if there are rumors of airport chaos on the nightly news.
If you absolutely have to check your bag, be sure to pack all medications, passport, important documents, change of clothes, bathing suit, and at least 3 pairs of underwear with you in your carry on.
If you make it to your tour, but your bag doesn’t, your trip leader will see if it’s possible to take you shopping somewhere, so that you can grab some things.
For Miranda, it definitely could have been worse. They didn’t have any checked bags to worry about, and were able to Uber to a friends’ house nearby rather than asking the airline for a hotel voucher.
But after several failed attempts at contacting United the next day, the best they could do was reschedule their flight for Friday, a full 5 days after their scheduled departure. *cue eye roll*
If your flight is significantly delayed, it will be up to you to make a decision on whether or not it’s worth it to continue on.
With travel insurance you’ll be able to get some reimbursement, but it’s still a major bummer, because we won’t be able to refund you (your hotels, seat on the bus, meals, guide, are all pre-paid for).
Travel insurance we like:
None of these links are sponsored, this is just who we use. Remember that each company will have a different price and inclusions, so definitely check them out and choose which policy will best work for you.
Hope this helps ease your mind about the “what-ifs” of travel. Just try not to stress, do what you’re comfortable with, and know that you will eventually arrive – and with a heck of a story, too!