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What should you do if your flight gets canceled? Here are some tips

With American Airlines canceling hundreds of flights over recent days, and Southwest having had computer issues, you should know what steps to take

FORT WORTH, Texas — For thousands of people over the past few days, their returns to the sky have been rockier than expected. 

Last week, Southwest Airlines passengers had to endure travel delays after a computer system outage. It resulted in hundreds of canceled flights and thousands of delays. 

Computer outages aside, American Airlines, has also had to cancel hundreds of flights over the weekend into Monday. Two big reasons, according to the airline? A labor shortage and a huge increase in customer demand. 

That's something air travel expert Rick Seaney said he doesn't see going away.

"Yeah, it's going to be rough," he said of this summer travel season. "There's resource shortages, there's going to be weather - there always is during the summer. That's going to cause issues."

So what should you do if your flight gets canceled this summer? Here are some tips:


Right now, the airlines' phone systems are very backed up, however you may need to speak to someone. To avoid an hours-long wait on hold, ask for an automated call back, recommended travel agent Sydney Patterson.

"Give them your callback number. They will call back," she said. "That way you're not sitting on hold, spinning your wheels."

While you're waiting for that callback ...


"That's sort of a side door into customer service," Seaney said.

Both Seaney and Patterson said the airlines have teams devoted to checking tweets on Twitter, and you may get a response there first. Just make sure to tag the airline in your request, and don't put any personal information on the public tweet, they recommended.

"Always social media is the best way to expedite a request," Patterson said.

And if you're not tech savvy, enlist someone who is, like your kid or neighbor.


Seaney said one of the most important things you should know is if the airline automatically re-booked you on another flight. If they did, and you either don't want to take it or the time/flight path doesn't work for you, you must get in touch with the airline.

"You must talk to the airline before that re-booked or your current flight departs," Seaney urged. "If you don't, you lose the entire value of your ticket."


  • If you're canceled while in the airport, take the tram to another terminal or find a less-crowded gate and see if an employee can help you there instead
  • Make sure to download the airline's app, as well as the TSA and FlightAware apps so you can track delays at security check-in points (or find points that are less busy), as well as track delays and cancellations at different airports
  • Do some research before you call the airline. Know what flight you want to take in place of your canceled one; that will expedite the process.

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