There’s nothing worse than a delayed flight. It’s often completely unexpected and entails a few extra hours of waiting time. Not to mention it’s a huge inconvenience when you’ve got a tight schedule and meetings to catch.
As annoying as they can be, however, there’s no avoiding them. They’re part and parcel of the whole corporate travel experience.
But if you know what to do, you can make good use of those extra hours of waiting time, get compensated for the inconvenience the delays have caused you, or even turn things around and get to those meetings in time on another flight. After all, when you get lemons, you might as well make some delicious lemonade for yourself.
The first thing you need to do is know your passenger rights. From there, you can set up a course of action.
Here’s what you can do when you’re met with a delayed flight.
Know your passenger rights
When a flight gets delayed, passengers are entitled to certain compensations for the inconvenience. But these vary from airline to region.
In the United States, for example, there are no federal guidelines that guarantee a course of action from the airline in the event of a delay, so airlines usually employ their own policies.
On the other hand, airlines under the European Union (EU) are required by law to offer up to £600 in compensation for flight delays of over three hours.
As a general rule of thumb, you’re entitled to some sort of compensation if the delay is the airline’s fault, like getting bumped due to an overbooked flight or the plane experiencing “technical issues.” Not for “extraordinary circumstances” like inclement weather.
There are exceptions, of course.
In 2018, Mount Agung in Indonesia erupted, which closed down the Denpasar International Airport for nearly 12 hours. Singapore Airlines offered affected passengers with the option to change their flight to any other ASEAN destination at no fee. Meanwhile, those who decided to stay in Singapore for the night were offered rooms at the Crowne Plaza Hotel for free while waiting for the next available flight to Bali.
While circumstances like these are pretty rare, it’s good to know what your options are in case of a delay.
For flight delays of less than three hours
For delays of at least two hours, most airlines will offer a “right to care” package, which usually entails informing you of the delay and its cause as well as covering small services. This includes phone or email services and basic amenities.
Especially if the delay is the airline’s fault, you can try asking for a lounge pass that entitles you to hot food, free drinks, comfortable seating, and free wifi.
With that in mind, here are a few ways you can make full use of the airport’s amenities.
Recharge your battery
Sometimes a delayed flight can be a blessing in disguise for those who find it hard to sleep on a plane. A lot of airports have dedicated snooze areas where you can get a couple of good hours of shut-eye, especially when it’s 3am and there’s not much else to do.
Some airports like the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta are even implementing sleeping pods for millennial travellers. They’re set to be installed in Terminal 3 across crowded areas, like boarding lounges or near capsule and airport hotels.
Connect to airport WiFi
These days, wifi has become a staple feature of most international airports. A stable internet connection is especially useful for the busy business traveller who needs to type up reports, connect with colleagues, or even go on impromptu con-calls since his flight got delayed.
While wifi can be found in most airports, the availability and speed and quality of the connection vary greatly. Some airports offer different tiers of access, like free wifi but at slower speeds or faster connections at a paid premium tier. While some airports dole out the Mbps’ like it’s nobody’s business.
The Seoul Incheon Internation Airport at South Korea, for example, has download speeds of up to 26.52 Mbps. That’s enough to handle your con-calls, with video to boot.
Check into a lounge
If you have lounge access, a flight delay would be an opportune time to check into the airport lounge and enjoy the amnesties available, such as complimentary buffet, refreshments, shower facilities, and even a massage. Singapore’s Changi Airport has the Airport Wellness Oasis at Terminal that offers full-body massages, foot reflexology, and even mani-pedis.
It’s always worthwhile to use a lounge if you can, especially during corporate travel. Chances are there are other business travelers such as yourself that were affected by the delay. This might even be an opportunity to strike up a conversation and potentially expand your network.
For flight delays of three hours or more
For delays of more than three hours, it’s time to get familiar with the specific airline’s travel policies. As these vary, it’s important that you are proactive about asking for your options.
Check online or talk to customer service and ask them what they can do for you. If the delay is caused by the airline, that’s when you can press them for a few options:
- Take the delayed flight and accept monetary compensation, where possible
- Request to rebook the flight, whether with the same airline or another carrier that offers a better schedule
- Ask for a full refund of all your flights under the same booking
If it’s one of the first two options and there’s a significant amount of waiting time before your flight, it’s possible to get the airline to cover your lodging and transportation fees as well, so keep your receipts!
And if it’s the last option, just take note that in the context of business trips, you know whether the compensation goes to you, the passenger, or your company. Iron that detail out with your HR manager!
If your company is using a corporate travel solution like Travelstop, even better. All you need to do is reach out to the support team — they can deal with all the logistical stuff for you, like requesting a refund and rebooking your flights and hotels — which is way easier and less complicated than doing it yourself.
Last but not least, don’t forget your travel insurance! If you purchased travel insurance, this is the time to use it. Call your insurance provider and see what rights you’re entitled to. Most policies will cover basic services like booking a hotel room or covering a taxi. Just make sure to read the fine print. Always.
Keep calm and fly on
These long delays are certainly burdensome, but you sometimes you have the power to turn things around so it all works out in the end. After all, nobody likes a delayed flight, but sometimes there’s just no avoiding it.
The key is to have backup plans during your corporate travel planning sessions so that no further time is wasted and you know what to do when something unexpected crops up.