Dealing with flight problems? Here’s where to get help dealing with flight or travel problems.
Flight Overbooked or Delayed
Bumped from a flight? You may be compensated for the cost of the flight but policies vary from airline to airline. Unfortunately, there isn’t a whole lot you can do.
WHN TIP – Delayed Flight Options: If you think your flight will be delayed or canceled due to a forecasted weather event like a blizzard or hurricane, call the airline or contact them online. They may allow customers to use their tickets on earlier flights or wait on standby.
If you have to make a connecting flight:
- Check to see how much time the plane is delayed and whether or not that change will affect your connection time.
- Ask the gate agent if there is anything that can be done to accommodate your situation. Sometimes you could be moved to a different flight on the same or different airline.
- Some airlines provide dedicated text numbers to communicate with their reservations team. Search online to see if your carrier offers this service.
- Understand that if you do make the connecting flight, your checked baggage might not. This is a common cause for delayed baggage. If this is the case, it’ll be put on the next flight out.
Contact your ride, rental and/or hotel:
- Call or text those who might be waiting to meet your flight at your destination airport and let them know you’re running late.
- Call the rental car company if you have a reservation for a specific time. Tell them your flight is delayed and when you expect to arrive.
- Also, call your hotel if your reservation is for a specific time. Tell them your flight is delayed and when you expect to arrive.
WHN TIP – Canceled Flight Options: If you think your flight will be delayed or canceled due to a forecasted weather event like a blizzard or hurricane, call the airline. They may allow customers to use their tickets on earlier flights or wait on standby.
- Check your airline’s app – they may have rebooked you on another flight already
- Most airline apps include a way to contact the reservations team – including direct phone line or dedicated text. Use whatever is most convenient.
- Call the airline or travel agent as soon as you learn your flight is canceled. It’ll help you get rebooked ahead of other passengers.
- Call your travel insurance agent as well to start the claim process.
- Head to the flight desk and ask about arrangements if you don’t have your phone with you.
- If you need to stay overnight, call hotels to make reservations. Ask about where and when to meet the airport shuttle.
- Check your e-mail: read any message carefully as it may notify you of changes to your travel plans (i.e. being moved to a later flight).
Contact your ride, rental and/or hotel:
- Call or text those who might be waiting to meet your flight at your destination airport and let them know your flight has been canceled.
- Call the rental car company if you had reservations. Tell them that your flight has been canceled and when you expect to arrive.
- Also, call your hotel if you had reservations. Tell them that your flight has been canceled and when you expect to arrive.
- If you lost your passport while in the U.S., visit the State Department website for instructions.
- If you lost your passport while traveling abroad, contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for assistance.
- Ask your hotel’s concierge or front desk for the embassy’s location or phone number. Train, bus or airport terminal personnel should also have this information.
- Ask to speak to the American Citizens Services unit.
- Ask where you can obtain the required passport photos. Also, provide them with details regarding your departure schedule.
- Get the agent’s name and direct extension for when you call back or go in.
- If it is a weekend or holiday (the embassy/consulate will be closed) and you are in a life or death situation, contact the after-hours duty officer.
- You will need to go to the embassy or consulate in order to complete a new passport application.
- If you have photos or photocopies of your passport, bring them with you.
- Bring along important documents that prove who you are and where you’re from (driver’s license, birth certificate, membership IDs, hard copy airline ticket, etc.)
- You can also bring witnesses or ask an officer/consulate to contact a friend or relative in the United States who can vouch for you.
- The process may take a few hours or a few days and you will have to pay an application fee.
Lost Photo I.D.
- All passengers age 18 and older must present government-issued photo identification (driver’s license, passport, state I.D.) when checking in for your flight.
- No photo I.D. (either lost or stolen)? The TSA requires that your identify is verified before you are allowed through security. They recommend arriving at least 2 hours prior to your flight to process the identification process.
- Talk to the airline ticket agent – policies will vary depending on the airline.
Lost Boarding Pass
- If you have lost your boarding pass, you may request another one at the airport ticket counter or kiosk. If you have already gone through security, ask the gate agent for your flight for assistance.
- You can usually pull up your boarding pass though the airline’s app.
Lost Airplane Ticket
- If you had an e-ticket, you should be able to print out your information at an internet kiosk. Also, the airline ticket counter agent should be able to look up your information for you.
- If you had a paper ticket:
- If you prepared ahead, you should have a photocopy of your airplane ticket. Get this photocopy ready.
- Call or tell the airline and let them know you’ve lost your ticket. They will help you to make arrangements for a replacement ticket. You also may have to pay an additional fee for the replacement ticket.
- If you booked your trip through a travel agent, give them a call. They can make all the necessary calls for you.
- Consider using the airline’s app so you can’t lose the ticket in the first place.
- If your ticket is stolen, you can file a report with the local police. There might not be a lot that they can do for you. Ask for a copy of the report for your records – you could possibly be reimbursed.
- Notify the airline that your ticket was stolen. Ask what their policies are regarding this situation (i.e. reissuing another ticket, reimbursement, etc.).
Lost / Damaged Luggage
- Be smart, be patient. Most likely your luggage isn’t lost, just delayed.
- If it is on the next flight or at another airport, it could arrive in just a few hours or over the next few days.
- Your airline will have a customer service area near the baggage carousel/baggage claim area. Explain your problem to the airline agent in a calm and clear manner. Courtesy and patience will result in a better experience.
WHN TIP – Have your baggage claim number available – this would have been given to you when you first checked in and received your boarding pass(es).
- Delayed/lost luggage: Tell the agent what flight you were on, which airport(s) you were coming from/connecting through and give a good detailed description of your bag.
- Damaged luggage: In the case of damaged baggage, airline customer service will often want to inspect the bag. You will need to keep repair receipts for reimbursement purposes.
- Stolen luggage: The airlines scan bags when they’re loaded into the baggage claim area and keep records – so your bag might just be lost, not stolen. If it is stolen, you should call the local police to file a police report.
- Stolen items from your luggage: Many airlines have a clause in their terms and conditions saying that they do not accept responsibility for perishable or valuable items, e.g. cameras, mobile devices and jewelry. It can be very difficult to get any compensation for missing items, often because it is almost impossible to prove that the items were there in the first place. You might also need to file a claim with the local police.
- If your bag is lost/damaged/stolen, you can also file a report with the airline. When you file a report, most airlines will give you a claim number and ask that you call or write the airline within a few weeks.
- Also, keep a copy of your letters and write down the name of any airline agents you speak with, dates, times and details of all conversations.
- If you have to buy items in the meantime (toiletries, clothes, etc.), keep the receipts in case you’re reimbursed by the airline or by your insurance company (travel or homeowner’s).
- Contact your travel or homeowner’s insurance agent and consider filing a claim (understand that this might increase your rates).
Thank You …
A special thank you to the industry professionals, travel agents and travelers who gave us their time, insight and real-life advice.
Photo Credit: Chris Brignola