Flying is one of the best ways to get to Newfoundland. Most visitors to Newfoundland arrive at St. John’s International Airport (YYT) next to the capital city on the east coast. If your destination is central Newfoundland flying to Gander International Airport (YQX) is your closest airport and will save you the 3.5 hour drive from St. John’s. If your first destination is western Newfoundland and Gros Morne National Park, we suggest flying to Deer Lake International Airport (YDF) since the drive from St. John’s to Deer Lake takes 6.5 hours, and that’s if you don’t stop anywhere along the way.
Airplanes are great, but no matter where your destination is, delays and cancellations are a reality of air travel. It’s always a let down when your flight is delayed. After all, the reason why you chose to fly is that you want to get to your destination faster and in the easiest possible way. Delays and cancellations can happen for many reasons like weather, mechanical issues with the aircraft, overbooking by the airline, and general events beyond most people’s control. In Newfoundland, unexpected storms and wind events can delay flights and sometimes cause them to be canceled altogether. If this happens to you, here’s what you should do:
1: IF YOU HAVE A CONNECTING FLIGHT, CHECK ITS FLIGHT STATUS RIGHT AWAY
In most cases, your airline will change your connecting flight for you automatically, but not always. Sometimes they will make the change without even letting you know. Other times you may have to call the airline to ensure your connecting flight has been updated to reflect the delay you’re experiencing. If your connecting flight is with a different airline, you will have to contact that airline and change the flight manually. It’s important to get on top of this right away since odds are many other passengers will be in the same boat. When flights get delayed or cancelled, seats on the next available flight will likely be limited and offered to passengers on a first come first serve basis.
2: START MAKING CALLS AS SOON AS YOU DISCOVER A FLIGHT DELAY OR CANCELLATION
If you have a hotel booked and anticipate the flight delay will last through the night, let them know. If you have a rental car booked but won’t be able to make it there by your pick-up time, call them as well. If the airline you’re flying with hasn’t offered you a free hotel, booking a room near the airport you’re stranded at is also a good idea, especially if you don’t have to pay until you check-in. When a flight get’s canceled or delayed overnight, especially in a smaller community, it puts tremendous pressure on hotels in the area which will often sell out before everyone has found a room. Making these calls sooner rather than later will give you the best chance at securing a room.
3: UNDERSTAND YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS AS AN AIRLINE PASSENGER IF YOUR FLIGHT IS DELAYED OR CANCELED
Legally, as a passenger, you have many rights. These rights fluctuate between airlines, countries, and where your flight was booked. To find out the details you’ll have to do a little digging. Most airlines have a “Contract of Carriage” which is a great place to start. This contract spells out what compensation you’re entitled to in the event of a flight cancellation or delay, including things like meal vouchers, hotels, and refunds. If you’re lucky enough to be flying to Newfoundland on a European Airline, you’re entitled to specific compensation if your flight is delayed by more than 3 hours or you’re denied boarding entirely due to flight cancellation or overbooking by the airline. This compensation can be up to $900 per passenger, so it’s worth looking into.
4: DON’T START TO COMPLAIN RIGHT AWAY, JUST KEEP YOUR COOL AND WAIT
If your flight delay is less than three hours, it hasn’t reached a compensation threshold yet. Short delays happen all the time and you should accept delays under three hours. Freaking out at attendants or speaking your mind to an airline call center agent is a waste of your time and energy. Their hands are tied until it’s been three hours or the flight has been canceled. Once a delay is over three hours or a flight is canceled all together, it’s time to inquire with the airline about compensation, meal vouchers, and anything else you may be entitled to.
5: IF YOU BOOKED YOUR FLIGHT WITH YOUR CREDIT CARD, YOU MAY ALREADY HAVE FREE FLIGHT CANCELLATION INSURANCE FROM YOUR CREDIT CARD PROVIDER
Many credit cards offer travel insurance as part of being a member, and this often includes some sort of flight delay and cancellation insurance. You should find out what travel perks are associated with the card you used to book, and if you’re the type of person that likes to plan ahead, choose to book flights with the credit card that offers you the most protection. This can include free meals, hotels, alternative airline tickets, refunds, and other things beyond what your airline carrier will offer you. Often times travelers are unaware of travel insurance and trip cancellation protection included with their credit card, and credit card companies don’t always make these perks obvious. Look into coverage you may already have and not even know about.
6: STAY AWAKE AND STAY ALERT OR YOU MAY MISS AN UPDATE FROM YOUR AIRLINE
During a flight delay or pending flight cancellation, everything is up in the air. Airlines may make an announcement that a flight will be delayed for 3 hours, and then an hour later make another announcement that an alternative aircraft has been found and boarding is about to commence. Airlines will do everything they can to get you going as soon as possible, especially if that can avoid them having to pay for costly hotel rooms and related compensations. If you fall asleep and miss the announcement, you may be entirely out of luck.
7: CHECK OUT THE FACILITIES AT THE AIRPORT LIKE LOUNGES, GYMS, AND RESTAURANTS
If you’re feeling trapped, take a walk around inside the airport and see what’s available. Many larger airports have special lounges that may be a better place to relax than at your gate. Some of these lounges require you to pay a fee but if your flight is delayed for a long period of time, paying this fee may be worth it. Airport lounges often include showers, free food and drinks, super comfortable seating, entertainment, and more. They’re a great place to freshen up, and airports in general are a fantastic people watching venue. You can always look at the departures board for up to date information on your flight, so don’t feel like you need to sit right beside your gate the entire time.
8: IF YOU NEED TO CONTACT THE AIRLINE CALL THEIR CALL CENTER INSTEAD OF SPEAKING WITH THE AIRLINE GATE ATTENDANT
When a flight gets delayed or canceled, the gate attendants get swamped with travelers. The line up can be long, and this part of the job is particularly hard for airline staff. Gate attendants will be doing everything they can to move through the line up, and often they’re limited in what they can do for passengers. Instead of swarming the gate desk with the rest of the passengers, keep your cool, pull out your phone, and give the airline a call. Likely you’ll get a chance to speak with someone faster than waiting in the line, and if there are only a few seats available on an alternative flight, you may be allocated one of these on a first come first serve basis.
9: BE LIKE FONZ AND KEEP YOUR COOL
If you pay attention to how people behave when their flights get canceled or delayed, you’ll notice some loose their cool. Airline attendants have thick skin, but that doesn’t mean they enjoy being disrespected any more than the next person. Some passengers, when they’re put in stressful situations, can lash out in anger and behave in ways they’ll most likely regret and be embarrassed of later. Everyone wants to be on time, weather it’s to make it to the Western Brook Pond boat tour or appear at your friend’s wedding. No matter the reason, you’ll get further and airline staff will be more happy to accommodate you if you treat them with kindness, love and respect.
10: IF YOU’VE SUFFERED A BIG FINANCIAL LOSS AS A RESULT OF MISSING YOUR FLIGHT YOU MAY RECEIVE COMPENSATION FOR IT
This last one is pretty specific and only applies to financial loss caused by preventable international flight delays that are a direct result of the airline. If your flight delay or cancellation caused you to loose a lot of money and the airline could have taken reasonable steps to negate or mitigate your delay but failed to do so, you might be able to receive financial compensation for this under what’s referred to as the “Montreal Convention“. Under this international travel treaty, you may be eligible to receive up to $7500 compensation for losses you incurred as a direct result of a preventable flight delay or cancellation.
Have you ever suffered a flight cancellation or delay? How did you deal best with the situation? Do you have any pro-tips for our readers? Post in the comments below, we want to hear from you.