How to Handle a Flight Cancellation When Travelling with Kids

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Travelling with kids is tough at the best of times. It’s hard to keep them entertained during those long flights, and on top of that, you’ve got the worry of jet lag and general flight anxiety to worry about. Throw in a cancelled flight, and you’ve got all the ingredients for a true travel nightmare.

No matter where your trip is taking you – whether it’s to a family holiday or to visit family overseas, the best thing you can do is make sure that you’re prepared for if the worst should happen. Here are some of the things you can do to reduce your stress levels when dealing with kids and a cancelled flight.

1.     Stay Calm

The first, and most important thing you can do in any complicated travel situation is make sure that you stay as calm as possible. Although this can be easier said than done when you have children screaming next to you, take a deep breath and think carefully about what you’re going to do next. The last thing you want is to end up shouting at the airline attendant who is there to help you get on the next available flight as quickly as possible.

Focus on trying to get rebooked as quickly as possible by calling the airline and learning everything you can about the delay, and what you need to do next. For instance, if the flight has been cancelled for weather reasons, there’s not a lot you can do but sit and wait for the storm to pass. However, if there’s an issue with overbooking, you may be able to get onto an alternative flight.

2.     Focus on Getting Re-Seated with the Kids

For an individual suffering from a cancelled flight, it’s a little easier to simply jump onto the next available airline – particularly if you packed light enough that you didn’t need to check any bags in at the airport. However, if you’re flying with children, you’re going to have to make sure that you not only find enough seats on a different flight, but also places that are next to your children.

Unfortunately, this also means that you may have to wait a little longer than some of the other people in your flight who are waiting to be re-booked. Try not to get overwhelmed or angry when you see other people getting placed before you. Your situation is more complex and will require some juggling from the airline representatives. Be patient and remember that you’ll eventually get to where you need to go.

3.     Have an Emergency Travel Budget Ready

If you’re stranded without a flight for several hours, and you’re travelling either to or from an airline in the EU (including the UK), you should be able to access free food and drink vouchers to cover the cost of a meal that you may be missing. However, it’s a good idea to have an emergency travel budget with you just in case. In some situations, your airline will not be able to provide you with vouchers straight away and will ask you to pay for your own food and keep the receipts.

Additionally, having a little extra money to play with when your flight is delayed also means that you can spend some cash on entertaining the kids if necessary. You could buy a book from a store to read to them, or invest in some new colouring books, for instance. It’s much easier to deal with a crisis when the kids are entertained.

4.     Know Your Rights Regarding Compensation

Finally, there aren’t a lot of things that will make you feel better when a flight you’ve waited months for is delayed or cancelled. However, it can help a little to know that you are going to get some compensation for the discomfort and inconvenience you’ve had to deal with. As soon as you hear about your flight cancellation, make sure that you go online and find out as much as you can about your rights to compensation.

If you’re travelling to or from an EU airport, or you’re travelling with an EU airline, then you should be eligible to compensation if your flight is delayed for three hours or more. It’s best to double check the information about payment and how you can apply for the money you’re owed with the airline to make sure that you can jump into action as quickly as possible.

Andy Higgs
Andy Higgs

I know what it's like to go from being a crazy backpacker without a care in the world, via being a vaguely sensible parent to being an adventurer once more. In other words, evolving into a Grown-up Traveller.

Like everyone else, I love to travel, have visited a lot of countries and all that but my big thing is Africa.

I also own and run The Grown-up Travel Company as a travel designer creating personalised African itineraries for experienced adventurers

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