We have been hearing a lot recently about flight cancelations and unfortunately, we experienced this exact thing on our way to Walt Disney World in March. Our flight from St Louis to Orlando International Airport was canceled only a few hours prior to the expected departure.
Weather played the culprit in our case as storms in both Denver, Colorado, and in the northern part of Florida was causing all sorts of issues when it came to getting planes and staff where they needed to be.
Although this wasn’t ideal at all, we did learn a few tips during the experience that might help others if this happens to them.
I would also like to mention that the Southwest agents at St Louis International Airport were absolutely fantastic and super helpful. We were extremely impressed with their kindness and willingness to help us along the way.
Prepare Before You Leave
My first tip comes before you even leave your house and that is to pack like you are expected to be stuck in an airport or hotel overnight. Even though no one wants to think of this as they prepare for a magical vacation, doing so can save you a world of stress later on.
Because we had our essentials with us at the airport, we weren’t also trying to figure out our luggage or worried about not having what the kids would need if we did get stuck overnight in St Louis.
For us, some of the essentials we pack in our carry-ons are:
- At least one set of extra clothes for everyone
- Gear to help with weather such as rainjackets
- Swimsuits so you can have some fun no matter where you ended up
- Pjs so everyone can get some sleep
- Comfort items such as blankets, stuffed animals etc
- Important medicine and toiletries (I did forget contact cases so think about those small things too)
- Layers: airports are cold
- Snacks and water bottles
- All the chargers and electronics
By having these items packed in our one carry-on suitcase and bags, we were able to feel prepared and it took a little of the stress off our situation.
I completely understand not wanting to think about this before even leaving the house, but by doing so you can save yourself some stress and money along the way.
Be Flexible and Understanding
The major issue we had, and many others are having, when the flight was canceled was that most other flights were booked full giving no options. Instead of getting mad, upset, or angry with the agent, we worked with her to get creative.
Where else could we fly to and then catch a flight to Orlando? We eventually found one that took us to Chicago Midway and then down to Orlando so we booked it as the only other direct flight at the time wasn’t until Sunday morning meaning we would lose almost a day and a half of our vacation.
Once we had a flight booked, my husband kept on checking the Southwest app religiously. Refreshing and refreshing for a good hour. Eventually, he found a direct flight to Orlando that would get us in at 6 pm that night only two hours after our original time!!
This was a big tip that the agents told us- don’t give up and keep checking. During times when flights are being adjusted, things are constantly changing for travel which causes openings to pop open. I am so grateful that my hubby stuck with it and found that flight- a truly magical moment.
Consider the Lounge
One of the best decisions we made during this awaiting time was to pay for the lounge. At the St. Louis International Airport, there is the WingTip Lounge. We paid for a day pass and it was a wonderful experience.
First and foremost it got us out of the hustle and bustle and to be honest stress of the main area of the airport. We also had nice, comfortable seats where we could charge our electronics and hang out.
Included with the day pass where food and drinks. This was nice as we had a variety of options including fruit and veggies that we didn’t have to leave the lounge to get. Since we had a good four hours in between flights, we were able to enjoy both breakfast and lunch along with snacks and drinks before we headed to our flight.
If you have the option of doing a day pass for a lounge at your airport, I highly recommend it if your flight is delayed a lot or canceled. Being able to be away from the crowds and in our own bubble was extremely nice.
Ask For Options
While we were working with the agent, I took the time to ask all the questions. As this was our first canceled flight (we have been so lucky) I wanted to make sure I knew what our options were.
Some questions to ask:
- Cost, if any, to change flights
- Options if you change airlines
- Payment if you have to get a hotel
- Food vouchers or clothing vouchers
We were lucky in that we didn’t need these items in the end, but I wanted to know what Southwest Airlines would be willing to help with if we were to be stuck in St. Louis for the evening or even day.
I hate that I have to put this in here, but it is an important one- be nice. Be nice to the agents trying to help you, to the other Guests trying to figure out their plans, and just in general. No one wants a flight to be canceled so being nice can make the bad situation that much better.
Also, when working with agents to figure out your plan, know that you are going to get more help if you are nice than if you are rude and disrespectful.
Having a flight canceled is super stressful and absolutely not magical, but I hope if you find yourself in this situation these tips will help you know what to do.