When you plan your trip, it’s not usual to plan for cancelled flights, but it can cause so much trouble… To show you the importance of planning for that, I decided to make this post, telling you some problems I’ve had, how I solved them and what to do to prevent them.
IMPORTANT: If you are a regular traveller, the struggles I’ve passed are more likely to make more sense to you. If not, imagine how would you deal with it if it happenned to you.
The worst company for me, in this subject, is TAP Airlines. I went twice to Europe, both of them with TAP, both of them I had my return flight cancelled…
Actually, the first time I went to Europe (in June, 2014) both of my TAP flights (depart and return) got cancelled. My depart flight to Lisbon left one day late and the return flight was cancelled and we were rearrenged in a Windrose flight.
For those who don’t know the company, Windrose is a russian airline company… My dad and I don’t speak russian (actually, not a single passenger inside that aircraft did), so comunication was an issue… Also, the plane scared us to death during the whole flight, because it was shaking a lot and making unusual noises non-stop.
But let’s go back to the depart flight, because this is the one that we had actual problems.
We went with an Abreu group, so we needed to be there on time to meet the rest of the group, but, as I already said, we arrived one day late in Lisbon, about 10pm. The Humberto Delgado Airport closes at night (since it’s not far from residencial areas, the law says it has to be this way), so we had to wait to take a flight to Rome on the other day.
TAP took us to a hotel I don’t remember the name exactly, only that it was a 5-star hotel with VIP on its name. All of the passenger were really hungry (us included) and the hotel didn’t have room service, but the company conviced them to make an exception for us. So, we spent about 30 euros for two sandwiches and juices (TAP didn’t refund us).
We lost one day in Rome, so, when we arrived, after a long day visiting Pompei, we booked a private car to make a quick city tour at night, so that we wouldn’t miss so much from Rome.
The city tour we would’ve had, if we got there on time, would be during the day, with lots of informations about the historic sites, in english, and a visit at the Colosseum. The one we actually had was at night, at an audi, with an italian driver that didn’t speak/understand english, taking us to places we didn’t have a clue of what it was, without a visit to the Colosseum (we only saw it from the outside, since it was already closed for the day).
It was fun, though. Maximus, our driver (that’s his actual name), loved to take pictures for us and he would stay in the most funny positions to take the pictures. Also, he didn’t mind at all parking at prohibited places for us to take a few pictures. One of the times he did it, a police officer talked to him. I don’t have a clue of what Maximus said, but the officer just left!
Now, even though it’s a funny story, we missed some very important things… One of the things I was most excited for that trip was to get inside the Coloseo, and because TAP decided to cancel our flight, I missed that, only being able to do it in July, 2016 (2 years later).
In this trip too, I had my return flight cancelled… This one was actually a problem and it got me really mad.
Spending time, energy and money to solve a problem…
TAP delayed our flight from Rome to Lisbon for more than 2h, because of closed airspace in Spain. This is okay, not their fault! What I got mad is that they told us our connection flight from Lisbon to Fortaleza (Brazil) would wait for us. When we arrived at the Lisbon airport, the other aircraft WAS STILL THERE, with open doors, but even so, everyone with connection flights were told to go talk to someone that would re-schedule us for the next flight (that would be in the other day)…
Not only that, but when arriving to Fortaleza, we would have another flight, from another company, to our city, Manaus. This ticket was not-refundable, so, we lost it, and would have to buy another ticket…
When TAP took us to the hotel, our number 1 priority was to call Latam (the company that would make our domestic flight) and beg for them to help us somehow! The phone was not working at all, so we used an Skype account to call them.
Fortunately, the Latam crew understood our situation, and because we’re regulars (they’re our only company for domestic flights), we got to re-schedule a non-re-schedulable, non-refundable flight!
When arriving at Fortaleza, we had an overnight hotel reservation that we lost, but our Latam flight was only on the next day, and we were tired from a 7h flight with all that stress… So, we called the hotel and had to beg for a room, because sleeping at the floor of the airport was not an option. After 1h we got an expensive room and everything else worked as it was planned.
But, even though it has a happy ending, we spent 2 days struggling to solve a problem we wouldn’t have had if TAP didn’t cancel our flight…
Before TAM became LATAM, we had a problem when returning from Miami. We were a group of friends and family of something like 15 people (with 45 bags, this part I’ll never forget). We were comming back from Disney on a Sunday. Everyone would have class/work on Monday. Everything was perfect until we got to the airport to find out our flight was cancelled because the plane got stuck in Manaus. Why? The flight going to Miami was not fully booked, so the company thought it would be a wonderfull ideia to cancel the flight…
According to Brazilian Law, the company is obligated to accomodate us and pay for our needs in this kind of situation. So, they took us to a hotel and gave us vouchers for food. But we didn’t have a ticket to come back! So we stayed one more day, not knowing when we would go home!
Everyone in our flight was at the waiting list for the next flights…
Imagine transporting 15 people (including kids of all ages and an old couple) with 45 bags between airport and hotel and then comming back…
We stayed 2 days in this situation, until we were able to flight home.
How to avoid problems!
The most important lesson I took from these cases is that I ALWAYS book flights for 1 day earlier than it has to be and all flights that depend on other companies (specially TAP) being on time, have a 1-day gap, just in case. In case I don’t need this gap, I have one day at the place to do something, so, it’s never a loss.
Also, whenever it’s possible, book connection flights and that’s not possible, avoid booking the 2 flights with short space of time between them.
In flight situations that may be complicated, to prevent a big loss of money on hotels, I like to book the first day and last days in a different reservation than the rest of the stay (so, for every stay, I have 3 reservations). Why? If I have a cancelled flight, it’s still possible to get the rest of the stay, but I don’t have to pay for the day I lost. And, at the last day, If my flight gets cancelled, I have a place to stay, and, if not, I can cancel it.
Ps: the hotel has to have a 24h refund policy, so that you can cancel the reservation 24h prior to the stay and not lose money.
Never book a flight for the day before you get back to work, because if you have a flight cancelled, you’ll miss work. What I like to do is to book my returning flight for friday, so that I have a 2 days gap before I have to go to work and be sure not to miss it.
In Europe, if your flight is cancelled, you may be eligible to receive up to 300 euros.
Brazilian Law says that if your flight is more than 4h late or is cancelled, the company is obligated to pay you food vouchers and a hotel to stay for as long as you stay in that situation.
In the US there’s a guide for travellers and you check it here. This guide says that:
For flight delays and cancellations that occur within seven days of the scheduled date of the flight, airlines are required to notify you of flight delays of more than 30 minutes, as well as flight cancellations and diversions within 30 minutes of the carrier becoming aware of a change in the status of a flight. The flight status information must be provided in the boarding gate area for the flight at a U.S. airport, on the carrier’s website, through an airline’s flight status notification services if a carrier offers that service and via the carrier’s telephone reservation system upon inquiry by any person.
That’s it for today’s post. I hope to have helped you! If there’s something you’d like to add, please tell me in the comments bellow. Thanks for reading.
See you in the next post.