TIP: What to do when a flight is cancelled

8 November 2021

What happens when a flight is cancelled?

The airline is not legally obligated to get you on the flight you originally booked. Their contract says they will get you from the point of departure on your ticket to the destination on your ticket, even if it’s on a different day.

When your flight is cancelled, you’ll be faced with one of these options:

1.    a refund

2.    a travel voucher or credit

3.    rebooking with or without a change fee


1. Ask to be booked on another airline

If your flight is cancelled, the airline can put you on another flight with another carrier. Most airlines will rebook you on another flight without incurring change fees or having to pay the fare difference when the cancelation is their fault. 

When an entire plane of travellers—or hundreds of planes—are trying to rebook at the same time, there can be significant delays and you may have better luck calling the other airline’s customer service line than waiting in line with other passengers.


2. Ask for the next confirmed seat

This strategy works best when you are at your home airport or have a place to stay while you wait. When airlines rebook you on the next flight, it could mean that you’re on standby. 

When a lot of travellers are in the same pickle, you could be waiting a significant amount of time for an available seat. If you give up, you’ll lose your place in line on the waiting list.

If you have some flexibility in your schedule, you can ask to be rolled over to the next flight instead of playing the standby wait game for what could be days. Just make sure that the airline can confirm you’ll have a seat and get a printed ticket.


3. Ask for food and accommodation vouchers

Free food and accommodation may make you feel better but know that the airline is not legally required to provide them, it usually depends on the fare you paid. Some air carriers have a short window in which to give out vouchers so it’s best to ask early.

4. Travel insurance will cover the additional costs if the delay was caused by an insured peril as listed in your policy