What To Do When Your Flight Is Delayed

By Kate Ruddell | Jul 17, 2020, 15:20 PM

“Your flight has been delayed.”  Those 5 dreaded words. Tensions run high when we travel. It doesn’t matter if you’re headed to an important business meeting or headed home after a long trip. We all want to get to our destination, and most importantly, get there on time. What should you do you when your flight is delayed?

Don’t Panic

Flight delays are more common than you think. Chances are, if you are a seasoned traveler, you’ve experienced one. For November 2019, the United States Department of Transportation released their Air Travel Consumer Report of airlines that had the highest percentage of on-time arrivals. The following is a list of the top U.S. airlines that get you where and when you need to be:

  • Hawaiian Airlines – 90.2% on time
  • Delta Airlines – 88.2% on time
  • Southwest – 88.1% on time
  • Allegiant – 84.1% on time
  • Spirit – 83.8% on time
  • Alaskan Airlines – 82.7% on time
  • Jet Blue - 82% on time
  • United – 79% on time
  • Frontier – 78.8% on time

SOURCE: Dept. of Transportation 

Why is my flight delayed?

As you can see, every airline is impacted by delayed flights. The delays typically fall into 4 categories:


  1. Air Carrier – the delay is caused by maintenance, late arrival or crew problems
  2. Extreme Weather – weather conditions that per the judgement of the carrier, can impact the operation of the flight
  3. National Aviation System – non-weather extreme conditions such as air traffic control, heavy traffic, and airport operations
  4. Security – this may be caused by an evacuation of a terminal or airport or a security breach

What’s the first thing I should do after finding out my flight is delayed? Download your carrier’s app and make sure to input your ticket and flight information. Apps have push notifications, which means you’ll be alerted as soon as there is a flight status change. Often, the apps are updated before the airline crew even makes the announcement. if your flight confirmation was sent to your Gmail account, another way to check the status is by opening google.com in your mobile browser. Type in “my flight” in the search bar. If you are logged into Google, it will pull up your flight information, including the status.

Should I rebook my delayed flight?

Hopefully, your flight is only delayed a short amount of time. If the delay time keeps increasing, you may want to run a quick search for later flights in preparation for a cancellation. Can I be reimbursed for my delayed flight? In the U.S., no regulations require airlines to provide compensation to consumers for travel delays (except when an airline oversells a flight). If you are flying in the European Union, they have slightly more consumer-friendly rules. With that in mind, it’s wise to protect your trip and your time with travel insurance.

With IMG’s iTravelInsured plans, we offer coverage for benefits such as trip cancellation, trip interruption, travel delay, missed connection, change fee, baggage delay and many more. Benefits vary by plan. For example, in our iTravelInsured Travel LX plan, you may be eligible for up to $1,000 ($250 per Day) after an initial delay of 6 hours. The benefit is paid for the following expenses:

A) The Additional Transportation Cost from the point where an Insured was delayed to a destination where he or she can join the Covered Trip;
B) The Additional Transportation Cost to return an Insured to his or her originally scheduled return destination;
C) Reasonable accommodation and meal expenses up to $125 per day necessarily incurred by an Insured for which he or she has proof of purchase and which were not paid for or provided by any other source; and
D) The non-refundable, unused portion of the prepaid expenses for the Covered Trip as long as the expenses are supported by proof of purchase and are not reimbursable by any other source.

Helpful tip: Keep a copy of everything from your ticket purchase, original itinerary, delayed notice, updated itinerary, receipts for meals and accommodations, etc. By keeping a copy of these documents, it will make filing a claim much easier.

How do I pass time while waiting for my delayed flight?

Airports are constantly growing with new restaurants, entertainment areas, and lounges. If your flight is delayed over an hour, try to see if the airline staff will grant you a pass to the airline lounge. The Delta Sky Lounge at LAX boasts free Wi-Fi, complimentary food and beverages, satellite TV, and even showers. If you can’t score a lounge pass, try to grab a bite to eat at a local restaurant. Hot restaurant food almost always trumps the in-flight food offerings. If you are in Atlanta, treat yourself to an upscale restaurant like One Flew South, located in terminal E at the Atlanta Hartfield-Jackson airport. After all, when you are delayed, there isn’t as much of a rush to grab something to go.

My delayed flight just got cancelled. What do I do?

Your day just went from bad to worse. The best thing you can do is call the airline’s customer service. It is likely that everyone will rush to the service desk to get rebooked. Try to get a spot in line, but the customer service agents can only move one person at a time. You have a good chance of speaking with someone over the phone who can rebook you on the next flight out. Ready to get a quote for a travel protection plan and save yourself some headache? Check out all of our travel insurance plans and call our Sales Service Center with any questions before purchasing your plan +1 (317) 655-4500.

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