Taking a flight has become a cumbersome and uncertain process nowadays. First, it was the holiday season rush and now it is the severe fog conditions, resulting in delays. This week, over a hundred flights were delayed at Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport due to dense fog and visibility issues.
If you can get out of the blanket and take a peek outside the window in the Delhi NCR region, you will know that the fog persists till as long as 10 am in the morning at times. The fog situation is bad in the evening starting 6 pm, right after sunset that is, and definitely worse at least till 6 am.
So, if you live in any of the places where fog or more specifically smog is a problem, you should know what to do in case your flight is delayed and what your rights are as a customer.
1. Book a flight during daytime
- Perhaps try avoiding taking a flight late in the evening, nighttime or early morning, when the fog is heavier. The best time to take a flight during winter would be between 10 am and 4 pm.
2. Get travel insurance in case of cancellations or delays
- Since a weather-related delay or cancellation is more likely to happen now than ever, it is best to get insurance to be on the safer side.
- You see, airlines can't be held liable to compensate the customer in case of weather-related issues or other extraordinary forces called 'Force Majeure'.
- Some airlines issue travel waivers that you can use to change or cancel your trip plans free of cost. This is another way to insure your travel.
4. Don't forget to give your contact details
- You might be a privacy freak, but when booking a flight, ensure that the airline has your contact number; so, in case of a delay or cancellation, they can call you to inform you in advance.
- If the airline cannot contact you, they won't be liable for compensation.
5. Keep your ears peeled for announcements
- In case of a delay, airlines often serve refreshments to their customers, so keep your ears peeled for any kind of important announcements.
- Usually, passengers are entitled to a full refund or a replacement flight if there is a delay of over 6 hours. This delay must also be informed to the passengers at least 24 hours before the departure time. But in the case of a fog-related delay, it is unlikely to be the case.
- Also, if the flight was to depart between 8 pm and 3 am and was delayed for over 6 hours, passengers should also be given complimentary hotel accommodation. Again, this would be up to the airline to provide in case of a weather-related event.
6. You wound up having to wait too long
- In case your flight got super delayed and you have to wait, check if your credit card offers complimentary airport lounge access. The lounge may be a better and more comfortable area to spend your time waiting instead of the common area.
7. Keep checking the airline's website and Twitter handle
- Before you leave your home to catch your flight, check the status of the flight on the airline's website, and/or Twitter handle for the latest information.
- Websites such as FlightAware or FlightRadar24 also show the position of your flight; so you can check whether the flight is delayed on its arrival at your take-off airport.
- Say your flight was unfortunately cancelled or too delayed, you can ask your airline to put you up with another flight.
- Airlines will often offer this option on other flights of their own in case of cancellations.
- But you can also claim to be rebooked onto a flight with another airline in case there is no other flight from the original airline.
- You can also keep a check on the availability of seats on various flights on websites such as ExpertFlyer. It shows the real-time availability of seats that you can show to your airline.
9. You want to cancel your ticket
- If you decided not to fly in bad weather; don't worry, you can still get your refund.
- Even if the cancellation is last minute or you don't show up for the boarding or you miss your flight, airlines cannot charge you more than the basic fare and fuel surcharges as cancellation fees.
- So, all the money that you paid on statutory taxes, user development/airport development fee or passenger service fee must be returned.
- If it was a cash payment, you can get a cash refund.
10. Keep an eye on flight monitors
- Don't go roaming around the airport aloof just because your flight got delayed due to the weather. Sometimes, a narrow window opens up to get a few flights out, and yours could be next. And since the weather changes quickly, the boarding time may also be limited.
- So, as soon as boarding opens up, make sure you are present at the gate for the boarding.
Have a safe (and un-cancelled) flight!