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What to do if Your Flight is Cancelled

If you have plans to travel interstate or overseas on a plane soon, it’s important that you know what to do if your flight is cancelled. Flight delays and cancellations have become increasingly common around the globe due to factors such as COVID-19, airline staff shortages, and extreme weather. In fact, Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport was even ranked as the #9 worst airport in the world for flight delays and #6 for flight cancellations in July 2022.

While it might be overwhelming to hear about the ongoing air travel and airport chaos, there’s no need to stress. In this step-by-step guide, we outline exactly what to do if your flight has been cancelled. 

Take a deep breath

When you find out your flight’s been cancelled, it’s completely normal to get upset or stressed. The most important thing to do is to take a deep breath and stay calm. Unfortunately, flight cancellations are becoming more and more common — but at least that means you’re not alone. Once you’ve taken a moment to breathe, you can come up with a plan of action. 

Get in touch with your airline as soon as possible

If your flight has been cancelled, you’re going to have plenty of questions: When is the next flight? Will you be able to get a seat on the next flight? What will happen to your connecting flight? 

Your airline’s customer service team should hopefully be able to provide you with the answers to all your queries. The best way to get in contact with them is by calling their customer service phone number, visiting their in-person desk at the airport (if you are there already) or contacting them on social media. In fact, some airlines are very responsive on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. When explaining your situation to airline staff, remember to be patient and polite. Like the rest of us, they are struggling with these challenges and they’re doing their absolute best to get you back in the air. 

Here are the best ways to contact Australia’s four major airlines (Qantas, Jetstar, Virgin and Rex):

Qantas | Phone 13 13 13 | Facebook | Twitter | Qantas website
Jetstar | Phone 13 15 38 | Facebook | Twitter | Jetstar website
Virgin | Phone 13 67 89 | Facebook | Twitter | Virgin website
Rex | Phone: 13 17 13 | Facebook | Twitter | Rex website

Ask your airline if they can rebook you on another flight

As stated in Qantas, Jetstar, Virgin and Rex’s cancellation policies, passengers are entitled to a transfer to the next available flight when the airline is responsible for cancelling the flight. After your flight has been cancelled, your airline will usually contact you directly about alternative options to get you back on track to your destination. In general, you can often wait to hear from your airline before contacting them yourself; they are typically very prompt in sending passengers details on next steps. However, whether the airline contacts you or you contact the airline, never rebook your trip without speaking to them first.

Apply for a refund (if eligible)

If your airline is unable to transfer you to the next available flight, you may be able to apply for a refund. Factors such as the length of your travel delay, the reason for the flight delay or cancellation, and whether your airline was able to rebook you on another flight within a reasonable time are all taken into consideration when you apply for a refund. Although refunds generally take a few business days to be processed, you can have peace of mind that your money is being transferred back to you, which is especially valuable if you end up rebooking your own flight. Check your airline’s cancellation policy to find out if you are eligible for a refund.

Figure out if you’re eligible for compensation

To help you in the event of a flight delay or cancellation, most Australian airlines have compensation policies in place. Depending on who you are travelling with, this means you might be able to claim compensation in the form of meal vouchers, travel vouchers and/or accommodation reimbursements in addition to your rebooked flight or refund. 

For example, Jetstar offers meal vouchers to passengers experiencing travel delays of three hours or more (if the delay is within Jetstar’s control). Qantas offers meal vouchers to passengers experiencing delays of at least two hours as well as accommodation reimbursements of $200 per room to passengers waiting overnight for a new flight.