The Ultimate Guide To Flight Delays While Traveling

Traveling the world is (mostly) all fun but what is not fun is airport mishaps. I’ve traveled all over the world and I’ve spent endless hours at so many different airports. Most of the times, flights and flight connections are seamless. However, it is those times when things go wrong that I really get heated and emotionally committed. This guide goes into my tips on how to survive a long airport layover and delay.Airplane Sunset landing


Get a Priority Pass Membership

I simply could not live without my Priority Pass membership. This service allows me to visit hundreds of different lounges around the world. It is not as strong in the US (but still plenty of options) but it is totally invaluable when traveling in Europe and Asia.

Priority Pass is just a subscription service that allows you to visit various lounges in the airport. Most of these lounges are 3rd party lounges (aka they are not affiliated with airlines). While in these lounges, you are free to drink and eat as much as you’d want all free of charge. Some lounges are nicer than others like the Primeclass lounge in Zurich (omg) but regardless, it is a perfect way to spend a long layover (expected or unexpected).

Primeclass Lounge in Zurich Airport

Primeclass Lounge in Zurich Airport

If you consider how much money you would spend at an airport on drinks and food, this membership more than pays for itself after a few uses. Best of all, if you’re from the US, the membership comes free of charge in premium credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve.


Understand your rights when a flight is canceled or delayed

Depending on where you are traveling, you might be entitled to actual cash compensation depending on your situation.

While traveling in Europe for example, I learned that the EU has passed legislation specifically around flight cancelations and airline compensation when this does happen. It’s important to know your rights when a flight is delayed so you will know how to respond. Using Flightright, it is an easy process to know what to do and make your claims.

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EU Regulation on Denied Boarding, Cancelled, Delayed Flights

The EU Regulation 261/2004 establishes minimum rights for passengers when they are denied boarding against their will, their flight is cancelled, or their flight is delayed.

Passengers whose flight is delayed should be offered with food and drinks. If the flight is delayed overnight, the passenger should be offered accommodation without question.

Every traveler has the right to these benefits regardless of situation.

What Happens if my flight is delayed and I miss my connection?

If your flight is delayed and this causes you to miss your connecting flight, you have rights to obtain compensation as well. However, make sure you book your flights with one airline on one ticket. If you book a flight from Madrid to Frankfurt to Krakow and the first flight is delayed, causing you to miss your flight to the final destination, you are entitled to compensation.

If you are traveling outside of the EU from the EU, these rules no longer apply. For example, if your flight is from London to Boston and this flight is delayed, it is not subject to the same rules.

If there are no flights left that day, you’re also entitled to overnight accommodations and the works.


If the flight is delayed, when to arrive at airport?

If your flight is delayed and you are not already at the airport, you should still arrive at the airport for your original departure time.

While not often, sometimes a delayed flight can turn into an on time flight and if you miss the flight it is your fault. Don’t get stuck in this situation because it’s likely the airline will try to stick you with the final bill!


How much money can you claim from a delayed flight

The compensation for a flight delay ranges between €250 and €600 per passenger. The amount depends on the distance of travel

  • €250 for flights shorter than 1500 km.
  • €400 for flights between 1500 km and 3500 km. If your flight took off and arrived in the EU, this is the amount of compensation even for flights over 3500 km.
  • €600 for distances over 3500 km. If the delay lasts between three and four hours, your reimbursement could be reduced in half in this case.
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The reimbursement must be made in cash. This can be by electronic cash transfer, wiring, bank checks etc. If you are a non-EU citizen without a EU bank account (with IBAN numbers), they can still wire you the money.

Alternatively, some airlines will offer travel vouchers and credits to be used at the airline. This requires your consent and they cannot force this on you. Cash is the minimum standard.


Understand your credit card benefits

Credit cards are an unlikely source for many when it comes to flight delay insurance. However, with premium credit cards becoming ever more prevalent, they come with some incredibly powerful benefits.

For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve offers trip delay insurance which is extremely useful. If your common carrier travel is delayed more than 6 hours or requires an overnight stay, you and your family are covered for unreimbursed expenses, such as meals and lodging, up to $500 per ticket.

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