What to do if your flight is delayed or canceled

WASHINGTON D.C., UNITED STATES - JANUARY 11: Cancelled flights are seen on the billboard at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington D.C., United States on January 11, 2023. All flights in US grounded as Federal Aviation Administration

Weather can be unpredictable, and even mess up your travel plans. Flights can be delayed or even canceled, leaving you to make some difficult decisions. Learning to navigate this smartly will make your trip more enjoyable. So what should you do if your flight is delayed or, worse, canceled?

For the record, larger airlines generally have better on-time records. Atlanta-based Delta has the best on-time record at 78%. The more budget-friendly airlines lag a bit. Frontier comes in last with a reported 56.6% on-time record.

Tips for when your flight is delayed or canceled

Late is a pain, sure. But canceled flights are where it can really hurt, so do these three things to alleviate some pain.

  1. Have your airline’s app on your phone. Learn to navigate it now. Memorize your password.
  2. Allow notifications to come to your phone. You can also turn off that setting after the holidays.
  3. Download an app called FlightAware. It'll help you double-track what’s going on in the air on your departure day.

According to the travel expert site "The Points Guy," it’s recommended to know the departure and landing destinations' weather forecasts very early. If you see bad weather looming, try to change that flight to a day earlier, or day-of leave at another time of the day to avoid the poor forecast. For example, if you are flying at 5 p.m. and you see bad weather coming, try to reschedule to a 7 a.m. flight.

When should I rebook my flight?

If your flight is going to be delayed, try re-booking it quickly online, with the app, or at the kiosk. If the airline’s phone number is backlogged, try calling through the international number. That’s a Points Guy workaround. If that doesn’t work, then try a ticketing agent. Speed is your friend here.

Also, some folks just re-book with another airline and hope their original airline will refund them later. Check to see if your credit card has a trip delay or cancelation refund policy.

Don't be late for check-in, and be nice.