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Flying can be a super-stressful time, especially if (when!) things go wrong. I have 2 rules of traveling for when things go wrong, the most relevant of which is “this would be so much worse if all my kids were here”. Unfortunately, sometimes my kids are with me when things go wrong, and it doesn’t always end up going well. Just recently, my son and I had to sprint through the airport and that’s on top of another time when this same son of mine and I had to sprint TO the airport.

Now, both of the above problems were a combination of my own fault and aircraft delays. But some things are not within your control, and flight cancellations can really throw a wrench into your travel plane. A recent government study showed who is to blame for the majority of flight cancellations.

(SEE ALSO: Aer Lingus Business class review to…. FLIGHT CANCELED?!?!?!)

an airplane parked at an airport

Airlines Responsible For Most Flight Cancellations

The Transportation Committee of the House of Representatives requested the Government Accountability Office to investigate flight delays and cancellations. I first read an article about it on NPR, and you can also read the full GAO study here (PDF). The GAO examined flight data from January 2018 through April 2022 and found that pre-pandemic, weather was the primary cause of flight delays and cancellations. But starting in early 2021, airline-caused cancellations began increasing, to the point that from October through December 2021, airlines caused 60% or more of cancellations. And that’s not even considering the fact that airlines are notorious for saying that it is due to “weather” when it is not.

Part of this is due to the fact that many airlines took billions of taxpayer money to keep airline employees on payroll, but in many cases they laid them off, reduced hours or gave employees incentives to quit anyways. This led to many airlines being understaffed in key positions, which only exacerbates the problem when there is an initial problem (due to weather or any other issue). At the end of the day, it’s unlikely to change until airlines have a reason to prioritize getting passengers where they booked, like the EU261 law in the European Union.

(SEE ALSO: Submitting an EU261 claim that could net me $1,500)

a plane flying in the sky

How To Prepare For a Flight Cancellation (And What To Do)

In the current state of travel in the United States, the airlines don’t HAVE to give you anything if there is a delay or cancellation. In some cases, they may offer you food or hotel vouchers, but currently there is no requirement. One thing that you can do is monitor a site like FlightAware for the status of your incoming flight. That can help give you advance warning if it looks like your flight is going to be delayed or cancelled. Being proactive and getting ahead of the situation can help you get ahead of everyone else that is going to be also trying to get rebooked. If your flight is cancelled (or a flight delay is going to make you miss a connection, look at what options you have so you can feed them to the person that is rebooking you.

(SEE ALSO: 3 mistakes I made when my flight was canceled)

(SEE ALSO: 5 things I did right when my flight was canceled)

Another thing that you can do is pay for your travel with a credit card that offers trip delay and trip cancellation insurance, like the card_name.

The Bottom Line

A report from the Government Accountability Office showed that in late 2021, airlines were responsible for 60% or more of flight cancellations. It’s important to note that in most cases, airlines do not HAVE to give you any kind of cash compensation, hotel or food vouchers (though sometimes they do, depending on the situation). You can take control of your situation by looking at your incoming flights to gauge the possibility of a delay or cancellation, being proactive and booking your flights with a credit card that offers trip delay or cancellation insurance. A combination of those things can help you navigate the stress of traveling during a flight delay or cancellation.

Do you have any flight cancellation horror stories? Leave your thoughts in the comments below

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