Canceled, Delayed or Bumped? Here’s What You’re Entitled To.

If you're flying this holiday weekend, know your options in the event things head south

Traveler standing in front of a flight display schedule in an international airport
This holiday weekend is going to be a doozy for flyers.

Welcome to hell week: travel edition.

By noon on Thursday, well over 2,000 flights had been canceled across the world (400 of which were flights within, into and out of the U.S.) and north of 16,000 were delayed (1,600 in the U.S.), according to FlightAware. This is coming off a whopping 23,045 delays (5,828 in the U.S.) and 2,471 cancellations (639 in the U.S) on Wednesday.

We have no reason to believe that things are miraculously going to clear up going into the holiday weekend. At the time of writing, 1,000 flights have already been canceled for Friday (70 in the U.S.) and another 300 for Saturday (27 in the U.S.). In fact, Delta has even gone so far as to preemptively issue travel waivers for flights between July 1 and July 4.

“Delta people are working around the clock to rebuild Delta’s operation while making it as resilient as possible to minimize the ripple effect of disruptions,” the airline noted in a blog post. “Even so, some operational challenges are expected this holiday weekend. This unique waiver is being issued to give Delta customers greater flexibility to plan around busy travel times, weather forecasts and other variables without worrying about a potential cost to do so.”

This is after Delta was allegedly “forced to shell out tens of thousands of dollars to encourage volunteers on an oversold flight to ‘bump’ themselves off the flight and onto a later service” earlier this week, per a report from Paddle Your Own Kanoo.

Which is why, dear reader, it’s important for you to know what you’re entitled to when your flight is canceled, delayed or when you’re bumped from a flight as we trudge onward into this air travel hellscape. A waiver is nice — but a $10,000 Visa gift card is nicer. Below, everything you need to know before heading to the airport this weekend, per the Department of Transportation, as far as what you may, or may not, be entitled to:

If your flight is canceled:

  • Most airlines will rebook you for free on their next flight to your destination, as long as the flight has available seats.
  • If you choose to scrap your trip altogether, you’re entitled to a refund for the unused transportation — even for non-refundable tickets. (That also includes a refund for any bag fee or any other extras you may have purchased.)
  • You can ask your airline if they will transfer your ticket to another airline that has a flight with available seats to your destination. 
  • Airlines don’t have to provide a hotel room, cab fare or a food voucher in the event of cancellation, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
  • They are not required to reimburse you for expenses (cruise, honeymoon, concert, etc.) as a result of a cancellation.
  • If you are issued a voucher, be sure to inquire about any restrictions that may apply (blackouts, expiration dates, etc.).

If your flight is delayed:

  • You aren’t entitled to money or other compensation when flights are delayed, though policies vary from airline to airline. Some may offer a hotel room or food voucher.
  • That said, in the event of “significant delays,” you actually may be entitled to a refund (and, again, a refund for any bag fee or any other extras you may have purchased).
  • You may be able to arrange another flight on your same airline. 
  • You can ask your original airline to transfer your ticket to an alternative airline.

If you’re bumped from a flight:

  • If everyone shows up to a flight in which more tickets were sold than available seats, the first course of action is for them to call for volunteers. All volunteers are generally offered compensation in the form of money or vouchers for a later flight and, fortunately, many passengers do actually wind up volunteering.
  • If you confirm your reservation, check in, arrive at the departure gate on time, don’t volunteer and the airline fails to get you to your destination within one hour of your original arrival time, you’re entitled to compensation.
  • If you’re subject to a one- to two-hour delay (or one to four for international flights), you’re automatically entitled to as much as four times the cost of your fare one-way, even if you’re rebooked. (Although, airlines may limit the compensation to $775 if 200% of the one-way fare is higher than $775.) If the delay is two hours or more (or upwards of four hours for an international flight), that figure increases to eight times the cost (but again, they may limit the compensation to $1,550 if 400% of the one-way fare is higher than $1,550).
  • That said, there’s no limit to the amount of money or vouchers that the airline is able to offer, meaning it is well within your right to negotiate.


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