What to do if your flight is delayed

Seat at AirportWith the airstrikes in France causing delays to passengers’ flights last week, it couldn’t be a better time to look at what to do if your flight is heavily delayed, or worse, cancelled.

Flights can be delayed for a variety of reasons; staff strikes, security threats and freak natural phenomenon are all a traveller’s worst nightmare. So from business lounges to keeping the kids entertained, here is a look at what to do if you find yourself at the airport with a long wait ahead of you.

How to find out if your flight is delayed

Before you travel, the easiest way to check if your flight is facing any delays is to either check your airline’s website or the website of the airport you’re travelling from.

Budget airlines like easyJet and Ryanair have dedicated pages to their flight departure times. EasyJet’s Flight Tracker page and Ryanair’s Flight Info page (tucked away at the top of the website), have the expected departure times for flights and any urgent travel information (such as strikes) is posted here.

Another simple way to check departure times is to visit the website of the airport you’re travelling from.  They will have live departure feeds for departing flights and are likely to address any potential large-scale delays and cancellations clearly on the site.

Your rights for delayed or cancelled flights

Delayed Flights

To get money back for delayed flights, the delay usually has to be over five hours to get the same sort of compensation as a cancelled flight. A delay of over five hours means passengers can receive a full refund if they abandon their journey.

For flight delays that are pushed back a whole day, passengers also have a right to overnight accommodation, however insurance policies tend to only authorise small compensation for costs incurred on flights that were delayed for over 12 hours.

Cancelled Flights

If a flight is cancelled outright, European Union regulations state that an EU airline is obligated to give you a full refund or a free re-route for your journey at the earliest opportunity, or if that’s not possible, a re-route at your easiest convenience.

There are some exceptions to this rule however. For example, if your airline notifies you of the delay with at least one or two weeks notice, they are only obligated to provide a flight that arrives no more than four hours later than originally scheduled.

The major get-out clause for airlines is that these regulations also don’t apply if a flight was cancelled due to reasons ‘caused by extraordinary circumstances that could not have been avoided by any reasonable measure’.

How to pass time at the airport

Hanging around an airport waiting for a delayed flight to arrive can quickly become tiresome and frustrating. Often delays are long enough to be inconvenient but not long enough to change your travel plans, resulting in a long wait at the airport. If this is the case it’s good to know how to keep yourself or your family entertained.

Electronic entertainment

Laptops, tablets and smartphones can be a great way to while away the hours listening to music, going online, playing games or catching up with friends. However they lose a lot of their usefulness if they run out of charge or there isn’t any Wi-Fi available. Heathrow offers free charging points throughout its terminals but there is a charge for Wi-Fi.

Business lounges

Depending on the cost of Wi-Fi, business lounges could be well worth the investment if you have to stay at an airport for a long period of time. The chairs are comfier, there are plug points where you can charge your phone, laptop or tablet and usually Wi-Fi is provided for free.

Heathrow parking specialists Purple Parking has created a full breakdown of the business lounge facilities available at London airports:

 

Airport

Lounges

Conference / meeting facilities

Charging points

Wifi?

Heathrow Airport

Servisair at Terminal 1 and 3 – from £17.49 for up to 3 hours.

No.1 at Terminal 3 – from £30 for up to 3 hours.

Not onsite, but in nearby hotels

Free charging points throughout the terminals.

Free in lounges, charged throughout the rest of the airport. Supplied by Boingo Wireless. Visit their website for charges and information.

London Gatwick Airport

Servisair at North and South Terminals – from £17.49 for up to 3 hours.

No. 1 at North and South Terminals – from £22.50 for 3 hours.

Business rooms are available in the No 1. lounge. Visit their website for more information.

Chargebox facilities costs £1.50 for 30 minutes.

Free in lounges, charged throughout the rest of the airport. Supplied by Boingo Wireless with the first 15 minutes for free. Visit their website for charges and information.

London Luton Airport

Servisair – from £17.49 for up to 3 hours.

Not onsite, but in nearby hotels.

Information not available.

Free in lounges, charged throughout the rest of the airport. Supplied by BT Openzone. Visit their website for charges and information.

London Stansted Airport

No. 1 at Gates 16 and 49 – £17.50 for up to 3 hours.

Not onsite, but in nearby hotels

Free wifi throughout the airport for up to 60 minutes per device per day.

 

For information on facilities available for other UK airports see the full business lounge guide here.

Restaurants

Grabbing something to eat is another way to pass the time whilst you keep an eye on any updates to your flights. The seats in restaurants and bars are likely to be less busy then the general airport waiting areas, so even if you’re not hungry, it might be nicer to wait out your time over a drink.

Keeping children entertained

Children usually find airports exciting places to be. If you find you have to keep them occupied for a long time set up a main area where one parent can look after bags and keep an eye on flight details, whilst the other takes the kids off to explore the airport. There’s usually a window to watch planes landing and taking off, or head to an empty gate to let the kids run around and let off steam without disturbing others.