Myths you need to know about Air Travel

In this article I have listed some of the misconceptions and confusions that could prove helpful in Air Travel. These are just a few scenarios that I thought of like weather cancellations, your arriving late to the airport to name a few.

  1. You will be compensated if your flight cancels: Some cancellations are within an airline’s control, whereas others, like those caused by severe weather or airport and air traffic disruptions, are simply out of their hands. But regardless of the situation they will assist you. Airlines in most cases no longer offer compensation regardless of reason if they can confirm you on the next flight.

If it is a mechanical issue, crew is unavailable, or some other reason within control of the airline you are flying, if compensation is offered, it is usually in the form of a future travel voucher, hotel accommodation if required, meals depending on the length of the delay and local transportation. However weather-related issues, or other” acts of God” (beyond the airline’s control), like civil disruptions, the airline does not owe you compensation.

  1. If you miss your flight you will be booked on the next one out: Not necessarily, and not necessarily for free. It depends on why you missed your flight. If you are connecting and your flight inbound was late, an airline usually has you protected on the next available flight out. But if you just showed up late at the airport, the airline is not obligated in any way to book you on the next flight without charging you a fee.
  2. If your flight is cancelled because of a force majeure you will be booked on the next flight: When a flight is cancelled because of something beyond an airline’s control they will book you on the next available flight. This does not mean the next flight out, but the next one that has space on it. People who are originally booked on the next flight out are not bumped because your flight cancelled. If space isn’t available on the next flight you can certainly request to standby .
  3. Flights hold for people who check in late: Not a chance unless you own or run the airline. This is a request that I have come across in my years in the airline world from someone advising us on behalf of the passenger, that they were running late because of traffic and to see if we could hold the plane.
  4. If your flight cancels you will be booked on the next available flight regardless of airline: Not necessarily. Priority is given to the flights of that specific airline, and then to carriers with whom they have agreements with. Tickets vary depending on the fare itself and its restrictions. In some cases airlines will even endorse the ticket to Via Rail. If you choose to cancel your booking, you will be given a choice between using the leg of your journey that was affected in exchange for a Future Travel Voucher which you can use toward your next trip, or a refund.
  5. You are more likely to be upgraded if you ask at check-in or at the gate: Let’s be frank, airline agents are not thrilled when passengers on a 99 cent ticket come up asking/demanding to be upgraded. For the major airlines, there is usually a list of candidates to upgrade first should it be required such as top tier frequent flyers and passengers who are holding full fare tickets. Complimentary upgrades are left to the discretion of the airline, and are most often a thing of the past.
  6. You are more likely to get bumped up if you check in late: Most airlines will bump off the last checked in if a flight is full and are unable to get volunteers.
  7. If you make a group booking, with your family, or a travel companion, you will be seated together: It would be nice if this was automatically true. If you can book your seat numbers in advance then things will usually work out, but if not don’t panic. The gate agent will try and get those seats together if possible.
  8. You will not get a seat if flight is oversold: When you arrive at check in and the flight is effectively oversold, you will be getting a boarding pass without a seat. That does not always mean that you will not get on. Depending on the carrier, you will be directed to a standby desk to await your seat. All airlines always oversell their flights, this based on their yield management that tracks figures in a computer system. So in essence statistics of a particular flight. These statistics tells them by how much of a percentage they can oversell their flights based on the no show rate (passengers who booked but did not show). If you are on an international flight, the pre-reserved seats get released back to airport control at 1 hour before departure. At that time, the agent will then do shuffling of seats, upgrades etc. and then going by the computer list assign seats to those passengers with no seats. It is not an exact science, so sometimes, the flight is oversold to a higher percentage, and there are no volunteers (if required) there could be passengers without seats. At that point, you will be given what they call a denied boarding compensation and be re-booked on the next available flight.

Tip: Compensation for oversells is now governed by law. What the airline offers is what the passenger will receive. There is no negotiating for more at least for Canadian airlines. Please keep in mind that even though this information is based on airline experience in Canada and Europe, each airline may have a slightly different way of dealing with certain situations.