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The One Thing You Should Always Do as Soon as Your Flight Is Delayed

It’s the second-worst word to see listed next to your flight on the departures board: Delayed. As soon as you’re notified that your flight is delayed, it’s crucial that you take this one action. 

Go to the FlightAware website and put in your flight number. FlightAware will show you where your plane is right now, which will give you crucial information to help you figure out how long your flight might actually be delayed. If the airline is telling you your flight is delayed by 30 minutes, but your plane is still in another city two hours away, you know that the delay is likely to be significantly longer. 

Close up of an LED sign that says "delayed"
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FlightAware could also show that your plane is en route, and likely to make up time in the air, so your flight could actually end up arriving on time—important information to have if you’re deciding whether or not to go to the airport for the scheduled departure time or later. 

FlightAware can also tell you if there is a ground stop due to weather at the airport (or at the airport where your aircraft is currently stuck) and how long it’s likely to last, helping you understand just how long your delay could be. 

This is all crucial information to have so that you can decide if you need to try to get on another flight ASAP, or if it’s best to wait out your delay. 

Although FlightAware and other flight tracking sites can give you good estimates about delays and cancellations, it’s also important to remember that your airline could swap out your plane for another at any time.

Tips for Getting on a New Flight During a Delay

  • Act fast—as soon as a delay is announced, most of the passengers on your flight will be scrambling to get on an earlier flight if possible, so you’ll want to move quickly to snag an available seat before they get filled up.
  • Try multiple ways to reach your airline. If you’re trying to get on a new flight and are waiting in line at the airport to talk to an agent, try calling, texting, or using your airline’s app as you may reach customer service sooner.
  • Walk to a different gate. If you’re in the airport when the delay is announced (and there’s a long line to talk to the agent at your gate), try walking to another gate that has a flight by your same airline. If the flight isn’t actively boarding (meaning the agent is busy), they may be able to help you rebook.

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