Do You Know What To Do When Your Flight Gets Canceled?

In most of the countries, the passenger’s rights in case of cancellation of flights are established by the government regulations. Hence travelers can enjoy the same flight cancellation rights for all the scheduled airlines.

But surprisingly, there is no such federal law or regulation specified in the US. So your rights derive solely from the airlines’ contracts of carriage in regards to cancellations. Due to unavailability of such federal regulations, these rights are not uniform and vary from one airline to another.

But anyhow, in case of cancellation of flights, you are left with two options: one is to get a seat on your original airline’s next available flight, and two is to get a refund of the unused portion of your ticket.

There are a number of rights attached to the concept of flight cancellation and most of the airlines promise to assist you in case your flight is canceled but not when the flight because of bad weather or some other force majeure factor.

Before discussing in detail about the cancellation policy, one must know about the following basic points attached to it.

What exactly is the meaning of Cancellation?

Talking about the cancellation meaning in terms of airlines, it is defined as a condition when an airline can’t get you to your destination without a delay. A cancellation occurs when the airline does not operate the flight at all for what so ever reason.


In the United States, if the flight is canceled or delayed, passengers are entitled to get compensation due to rules obeyed by every flight company. And there are a number of cases attached to the cancellation of flights and your refundable amount depends upon that.


The reality is that whenever the cancellation occurs on behalf of the airline, there is always a flight cancellation refund available. You have a right to get a full refund of the remaining value of your ticket. You can avail your refunds in the same manner as your ticket purchase i.e. both in cash as well as credit to your credit card.


But in some cases, if your onward connecting flight from a hub airport is canceled on an outbound trip and you don’t want to continue the trip, then the airline will refund the entire value of the ticket and don’t charge anything from you.

There are a few airlines that do not specify a refund, but in practice, a refund is always an option.


Well, most of the airlines build their cancellation policies on the assumption that the passengers reach their final destination as quickly as possible. But anyhow, the extent of assistance varies. Hence, probably every airline contracts promise to get you a seat on their next available flight at no extra cost.

In airlines with more than one class generally specify a seat in the same class but if there is no seat available in the original class, then you will be accommodated to a higher class with no additional fare. In case you are shifted to a lower class, you will be refunded the fare difference.

  • If you are lucky, then some airlines may offer you the next available seat on their own line.
  • May be you get the option to get transferred to another airline that can get you to your destination before they can get you there.
  • Only a few lines offer transfers at your request.

There are two categories under it:

CASE: 1 – If your flight gets cancels due to some force majeure event

If an airline cancels your flight because of some force majeure event outside which is totally not in control by the airline, then you will get only 2 options; either you avail the refund or the next available seat to your destination.

There are a number of events which are mentioned in the list of force majeure events. Probably following are the few conditions which are considered under it.

  • Weather conditions or acts of God
  • Riots, civil unrest, and war, hostilities, or unsettled international conditions
  • Strikes, Work stoppages, Slowdowns, Lockout, etc
  • Delays due to shortages of labor, fuel, or facilities

CASE: 2 – If your flight gets cancels due to some problem within an airline’s control

The cancellation of flights can also occur due to a problem within an airline’s control. This includes conditions like plane change, crew shortage, etc. Most of the airlines promise to tend to your needs in the event of an extended delay in finding an available seat. In such a case, the airline offers the following stuff to passengers:

  • FOR DELAY OF 4 HOURS AND MORE: Meal vouchers
  • FOR DELAY OF 8 HOURS AND MORE: Hotel accommodation (some airlines specify delay times of eight hours or more or for delays of four hours or more within the period of 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.)
  • In case of delay and you don’t have the mobile phone, then there is a provision in many contracts that you will get a free telephone call.

The basic question in everyone’s mind is that “why do flights get canceled?” Cancellation may occur due to different factors and there is no single easy solution attached to it. But the following few tips may help you a little on that.

  • In case the airline cancels a flight before scheduled departure time: The airline automatically re-books you and notifies you by email or a text to your phone in such a case. Generally, if the airline’s solution is at all reasonable, take it; arranging something else is almost always a major hassle.
  • In case of last-minute cancellation: If you are booking your flight tickets through a travel agent, then contact the agency or its 24/7 backup to get an immediate arrangement or a substitute for you.
  • Get online to identify possible solutions: By searching online, you can probably find better solutions depending upon your situation. You can also switch to the airline’s call center or to the agent dealing with problems on the spot.
  • In case, the cancellation takes place outside the U.S. or Canada: You need to ask to see a copy of the airline’s contract of carriage or equivalent customer commitment document to see what the airline can do and what not to you.
  • Keep your cool: You need to know this first that the agent who is dealing with you at a busy airport didn’t cause the cancellation. Hence getting aggressive and shouting at him can’t solve your problem. By doing so, you can only gain less assistance.