Delayed flights are not exactly ‘drag that airline to consumer forum’ situations. Even if they are, more often than not, it is distant future and not an immediate solution. But delayed flights definitely are ‘tear every strand of hair off my and everyone else in vicinity’s scalp’ situations. The frustration is unmatched and lack of options can easily blow the top for even walking, breathing Budhhas.
A troubled call for help from an Akosha regular, seeking advice on what must be done when the flight was delayed made us realize that there may be more consumers who can do with an easy to refer manual on options available in case of delayed flights. While this is definitely not an all exhaustive guide on the issue, it is a start—enough to acquaint you with the basics when faced with the delayed flight crisis.
Be Calm and Be Polite — Even though it is precisely the opposite of what you really want to do at the moment, be calm and be polite to the airline staff. Always remember that a delayed flight is not exactly the fault of the person across the counter. The airlines did not delay the flight on purpose to derive some sort of sadistic pleasure out of your inconvenience. In most cases, the delay is triggered by the unavoidable and your yelling and screaming can’t change that. What it can definitely do is create more troubles for you, inviting wrath and lack of cooperation from the only people who can possible help you—the staff. So, don’t yell! Calmly inquire about your options and choose whatever suits you. It may not always be the quickest way to your destination, but it may well be the only one. Always remember, the airlines are not obligated to find you the quickest possible option. In worst case scenario, they are responsible for ensuring food and lodging (if you are in transit and have missed the connecting flight—the catch here is that both flights should belong to the same service provider) till the next option is available and make sure you are on your way, eventually. Make your choices wisely and don’t let anger fuel the fire of your troubles.
Always Engage Multiple Means of Communication—Which automatically requires you to always take the precaution of storing your airline’s number in your phone. If the line at the counter is too long, try contacting their customer care via phone while you wait for your turn. Trying to reach an airline via phone in India, especially when there has been a crisis hardly qualifies as a wise advice. However, it is worth a try and if you are able to connect to them, it may quicken the process and hence cut down your trauma dramatically. This too does not mean that you will always find the quickest option to your destination, but it does mean that you will find an option at the earliest and this in itself, as anyone who would have ever been stranded at an airport would know, is nothing short of relief. Remember, sometimes waiting for the delayed flight to actually take off may as well be the only option but it is worth being aware of it being so, as soon as possible.
Plan In Advance, Know Your Options — For instance, if you are travelling through North India in January, delays due to fog are inevitable. Take them into account and plan accordingly, so that any loss of time due to flight delays is factored in. Remember, delays due to weather are deemed nobody’s liability and if you suffer due to them, chances are nobody shall pay for it except you. Apart from the delays on account of weather, airlines are liable to give a proper reason for the delay or else they may be held liable, eventually. The operative word is eventually. Even if the flight has been delayed for reasons that are not good enough, there is nothing much you can do about it at that very moment. While we are a staunch advocate of taking the issue to the consumer forum and make the airline pay up in due course of time, a lot of immediate heartburn and impending loss can be avoided if you always factor in a possibility of delay in your plans, weather conditions notwithstanding.
None of the advices listed above imply that you should quietly bear the unreasonableness of your service provider. In fact, if the inconvenience is unjustified, every consumer should drag the responsible parties to the consumer forum and claim compensation. However, in several instances, the delay may be justified in the sense that it is triggered by unavoidable circumstances or weather conditions. In such instances, there is nothing much to be achieved by losing cool or creating a scene. Knowing the options and proper planning are a passenger’s best bet and being prepared in advance can go a long way in avoiding a plethora of avoidable, add on troubles.