We were just in NYC this past week, and our return flight got canceled at 12:30 am after being delayed for over 5 hours! Out of the 5+ years that Jorge and I have been traveling together, this has never happened to us. So you can only imagine how many questions we had on what to do next. We were supposed to fly out of LaGuardia Airport on Southwest Airlines. They kept giving us different excuses until they finally canceled altogether due to traffic, weather, pilots, etc. etc. Here’s what we learned:
The airport you fly into matters.
LaGuardia Airport is considered one of the worst airports in the country. It’s been on many “worst” lists and somehow I did not know this. Ah well, you live, you learn, and then you blog about it, right? We were stuck there for 9 mind-numbing hours. The waiting lounges are all smushed together into one long hallway. It seemed like there was no air conditioning in some parts because it was so crowded. The food options were very limited and they sucked. The airport is so outdated that they don’t even have screens at the gates (or at least terminal B didn’t)! They still have those boards where you have to manually change the flight and time. This is NYC! How is this possible?! But none of that was the worst part.
The worst part about this airport is that their flights are always delayed. Great. By 11 pm we couldn’t stop making jokes about our situation. How else can you get through it? They are however putting a ton of money into renovating the whole place. Hallelujah! For the meanwhile, avoid it at all costs. Newark Airport in New Jersey is so much better and you can catch a direct train for $13 from or into Penn Station. JFK is also a better option, and there are simpler ways to get into the city from there than LaGuardia.
If the airlines cancel because of something they can’t control like weather or traffic, they won’t cover any of your costs.
My mom kept calling me while I was delayed and said, “if they cancel your flight they have to cover your hotel, make sure they’re covering it!” Turns out, they don’t. There is no law in the U.S. that covers passengers like that. Some airlines might be more generous, but most airlines won’t. Sometimes customer service agents might help you find hotels with discounted rates, but that wasn’t our case. They canceled two Chicago flights after midnight. There were 200+ people in line waiting to get rebooked, and only two poor souls helping each and every one of us. Discounted rates weren’t on their priority list. So we called 15 different hotels until we found one that had an open room and didn’t cost $375, thank you Hyatt Place Midtown!
If they’re not covering your hotel, they’re most likely not covering your transportation.
Before we realized we had to go back to the check-in desk to get rebooked, I was trying to ask one of the staff members what to do next. But a very angry girl cut in front of me and said to her, “So now what? Will you at least cover my taxi?!!” And the employee nodded her head no and explained that they don’t cover those costs.
“This is so F’ed UP!! I’M NEVER FLYING WITH SOUTHWEST AGAIN!!!!”
And they both stormed off in different directions … Um, hello can someone help me? LOL! Honestly, I don’t blame Southwest for the delays or cancellation. It sucks that they don’t cover anything, but what do you expect from a budget airline?
What most airlines will do is get you on the next available flight, or refund that portion of your ticket so you can book with another airline.
Make note, if the other airline ticket costs you more they will not help you pay the difference. They did give us several options with different airports, so we just chose the best one, and we’re grateful we got a flight for the next night. For future reference and if possible, try booking an early flight instead of the very last one. By doing that you have more options with a cancellation instead of having to wait until the next day. I overheard so many people yelling at customer service over the phone, demanding the next flight out. Where is that attitude going to get you?! I understand that it’s frustrating and we all have somewhere to be, but the people on the phone or the check-in desk aren’t to blame. EDIT: I have heard of other airlines offering more for delays and cancellations than Southwest did. Definitely, read up on what your airline may offer! Call customer service during or after your trip to see what they can give you for your troubles. Doesn’t hurt to ask.
You can get your money back if you book with the right card!
You know how much I love a good travel credit card and the rewards that you get from them. For this NYC flight, we booked with our new Bank of America Travel Rewards card that offers you money back instead of points. Our original flight costs us $331. After spending the needed amount on the card we were rewarded $253 back toward our flight. So, it only costs us $78. Though that was a good return, I learned that this card doesn’t offer “Trip Interruption” insurance. I was hoping that we could still get our money back somehow for this canceled fight/overnight stay/paid out-of-pocket experience. I actually just threw it out there when I called Bank of America, I didn’t know if an insurance like that existed! It does offer car rental and lost luggage insurance, but none of that applies to us right now. So from now on, if you want to use a card for the rewards and insurance benefits make sure it offers “trip interruption” because how lovely would it be to get that money back?
Having your flight get canceled isn’t ideal, but it happens, and in the end, it makes us better travelers. Hopefully, this post is helpful to someone in the future! And remember, “attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure.” Enjoy your extra day in the city! Jorge and I slept in, ate at restaurants that were still on our list, and explored more of New York. You’re still on vacation so try to take advantage of it.