What should I do if my flight has been canceled or delayed?

(CNN) — It has been a tough few days for some air travelers here at the Christmas rush.

As of 5:15 p.m. ET Monday, more than 2,800 flights were canceled as Covid cases surge around the world. Of those, roughly 1,000 were within, into or out of the United States, according to FlightAware.

And that’s just Monday. Citing the spike in Omicron variant cases, US airlines have been canceling and delaying flights since Thursday, December 23.

What if you’re one of the unlucky passengers? Here are some tips to help travelers navigate the system when flights are delayed or canceled:

Avoid getting trapped at the airport

As bad as it is to find out your flight has been delayed for a long time, or worse, canceled, it’s better to find out from the comfort of home or a hotel room and make new arrangements from there.

“Check your flight status before you go the airport. Most of these notifications are not happening at the last minute,” said Scott Keyes, the founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights. “Save yourself the drive to the airport.”
Keyes told CNN Travel in an interview on Monday that you should sign up for airlines’ free text alerts on the status of flights when you buy your ticket. You should also download your carrier’s app.

You can also put your airline and flight number directly into a Google search bar to retrieve the status that way. That’s also handy for friends or family who are on standby to pick you up.

Keyes also suggested checking the website FlightAware to track larger flight trends across country.

If you’re at the airport already

A flight information display system shows departure times at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, on Monday, December 27.

A flight information display system shows departure times at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, on Monday, December 27.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Sometimes, the delays and cancellations happen after you’ve arrived at the airport. Once the bad news has been delivered, what should you do?

Keyes said to head fast as you can to the airline agents’ desk — and get ready to multitask while you’re in line.

Fast is a key word here. “It’s going to make a difference who arrives first. It’s first-come, first-serve. Positioning yourself close to the desk can pay off,” Keyes said.

Then call up your carrier while you’re waiting. Depending on your spot in line, it might be faster to get through to a call center. “Whatever happens first, great,” he said.

Calls to US domestic numbers might have really long waits. Keyes suggested trying an international call center for your carrier instead.

“Most US-based travelers aren’t thinking to call the Canadian help line for Delta. You might get through to an agent much quicker. They can all handle your reservations just the same.”

You can also use a self-serve kiosk, American Airlines says. “Scan your boarding pass or enter your record locator to see your updated trip details. From there you can also switch your flight and print your new boarding passes.”

Attitude and research matter

Passengers wait in line to check in for their flights at the Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Virginia, on Monday, December 27.

Passengers wait in line to check in for their flights at the Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Virginia, on Monday, December 27.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Whether you’re dealing with an agent in person or over the phone, how you approach things can make a big difference. That starts with attitude.

“Honey attracts more flies than vinegar,” Keyes said. “Look at this from the airline agents’ perspective. They’ve been dealing with irate customers really since the pandemic began. The agent is the one who has the most ability to help you.

“Asking nicely and sympathetically is far more likely to get what you want than being a jerk about it.”

He had another tip when it’s your turn to talk to an agent about making new arrangements: “Come prepared to offer your own options already. Doing your own research is absolutely helpful.”

Your agent can expedite things if you’ve already looked up new routes and possible suggestions while you’ve been waiting. Be ready to explain what you want.

If you’ve booked through Expedia or another third-party site, you’ll have to deal through them when there’s a cancellation.

If price is the same, Keyes suggested you book directly with the airline. In case something goes wrong, “it makes it much more complicated with multiple sets of policies.”

US PIRG, a consumer advocacy group, suggests you avoid layovers when booking if possible. The more times you stop, the more chances for something to go wrong.

The group also backs up the advice from Keyes to be nice and polite to agents but also says consumers should be persistent in trying to get the situation resolved satisfactorily.

Trapped for the night

A woman and child wait for their flight alongside another traveler at Miami International Airport on Monday, December 27.

A woman and child wait for their flight alongside another traveler at Miami International Airport on Monday, December 27.

Rebecca Blackwell/AP

What do you do if it looks like you’re not going to be able to fly out until the next day and you’re not in your home city?

“Ask the airline to put you up in a hotel or give you a hotel voucher. They might do it; they might not. It’s not required by law,” Keyes said.

They’re less likely to do it if it’s weather related, he said, than if the problem is a mechanical issue with the plane or staffing issues.

Get to know policies. For instance, Delta Air Lines says it will provide a hotel voucher in some circumstances if travel is interrupted for more than four hours after the scheduled departure time when the delay is between 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Whatever you do, at least ask, Keyes said. A voucher for hotels and even ground transport and meals aren’t likely to just be offered.

You should also look up your credit card information. Keyes said your card might have passenger protections, including free hotel rooms if you’re stranded and perhaps even cover your food and taxi to the hotel. Look up what do you need to do to get reimbursed.

If your flight is delayed instead of outright canceled, you might want to weigh whether to wait at the airport. Depending your personal circumstances, hunkering down there for five or six hours might be easier than going to and from a hotel. Also, Keyes said, check whether there is a hotel within the airport.

The Points Guy advises trying to get into an airport lounge if you can, where you recharge your phone and rest more easily.

Cancel your trip and fly later

“If you are scheduled to fly in the next week and worried about Omicron, airlines are offering free changes to your flight,” Keyes said. “If you’d like to switch your travel dates, you can change without penalty.”

He also noted that if the new travel dates are cheaper, you can get a travel credit. (Conversely, you’ll pay more if the flight is more expensive.)

“By switching a flight from the holidays to February, you’re less likely to encounter this Omicron situation. You might save yourself a couple of hundred of bucks.”

Refund entitlements for your flight

The US Department of Transportation says you are entitled to a refund of your ticket cost because of a cancellation or “significant delay” and you choose not to travel.

This is the policy regardless of the reason the airlines cancels or delays the flight.

However, what “significant delay” remains open to interpretation.

According to the DOT website, “it has not specifically defined what constitutes a ‘significant delay.’ Whether you are entitled to a refund depends on many factors — including the length of the delay, the length of the flight, and your particular circumstances. DOT determines whether you are entitled to a refund following a significant delay on a case-by-case basis.”

CNN’s Chris Liakos and Sonnet Swire contributed to this report.

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NBA announces delayed start for NBA G League regular season

The NBA G League announced Friday that its regular season will begin on January. 5 instead of next week.

The regular season was originally scheduled to tip off on Monday after the NBA G League showcase concluded in Las Vegas.

This delayed start “will give teams an opportunity to safely return players to market after the Christmas holiday and to replenish their rosters following NBA Call-Ups,” the league said.

That’s sure to be true for the The Long Island Nets. Brooklyn’s G League squad had been traveling since December 14th and would have been back on the road to start the regular season against the Wisconsin Herd on Monday

Information regarding games originally scheduled between December 27 and January 4 will be “provided at a later date,” the league announced. The Nets were originally scheduled to visit the Herd, host the Capital City Go-Go on the 30th, travel to Maine the next day to face the Celtics and then host the Westchester Knicks on Sunday, January 2nd.

Long Island’s regular season home opener will now presumably be on Wednesday, January 5, against the College Park Skyhawks at Nassau Coliseum.

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Lakers-Bulls Game Delayed – All Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers’ rematch with the Chicago Bulls has seen its scheduled tip-off time pushed back, but only four-and-a-half hours for now, per a Bulls tweet:

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Warriors’ flight to New York delayed ahead of Stephen Curry’s potentially record-setting game vs. Knicks

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NBA travel schedules are typically very precise. When a team has to play a back-to-back on the road, it usually gets on the plane as soon as it leaves the first arena so that it can land in the second city and get a good night of sleep before the next night’s game. The Golden State Warriors tried to do just that on Monday after their 102-100 victory over the Indiana Pacers… but their plane didn’t cooperate, according to Marcus Thompson and Anthony Slater of The Athletic

The Warriors couldn’t take off Monday night because of mechanical issues, so they stayed in Indianapolis rather than travel to New York for Tuesday’s game against the New York Knicks. They planned to get to New York Tuesday morning, but yet again, as Draymond Green let us know on Twitter, mechanical issues delayed their travels.

Finally, as of 10:35 a.m. on Tuesday, the Warriors finally managed to get in the air, according to Slater. That would get them to New York after noon on Tuesday and to their hotel between 1-2 p.m ET. The game itself will tip off at 7:30 p.m., and considering the time needed for warmups and any other pregame activities, the Warriors will essentially be left with no downtime between travel and preparing for the game. This is exceedingly abnormal in the NBA

Tuesday’s game will likely include some history. Warriors star Stephen Curry needs just two 3-pointers to break Ray Allen’s all-time record after he made five triples against the Pacers.

Teams do everything in their power to ensure that they never have to travel and play on the same day, but sometimes, the situation is out of their hands. That was the case for Golden State, who will now need to beat not only the Knicks, but their own exhaustion in Tuesday’s game.

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NSW home and hotel quarantine to end November 1; 399 new local cases, four deaths in NSW as regional travel delayed; Victoria records 2179 new local cases, six deaths

Victoria has eased its border restrictions with New South Wales, with fully vaccinated travellers entering from red zones no longer needing to quarantine for 14 days.

Vaccinated travellers who enter Victoria must return a negative test result no more than 72 hours before entry.

Once they enter, they must get tested and isolate until they return a negative test result.

However, people who are not fully vaccinated – including those with medical exemptions – must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, as well as get tested before entering the state.

Previously, people returning from red zones had to be Victorian residents.

Fully vaccinated people coming from orange zones will no longer be required to get tested and isolate until they receive a negative result.

The new border measures come into place at 11.59pm on October 19.

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Chicago Travel Advisory Update Delayed Due to Holiday Weekend – NBC Chicago

Chicago’s travel advisory was slated to be updated Tuesday afternoon, but city health officials said a delay in data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention due to the long holiday weekend has delayed the city’s update.

“Our weekly COVID Travel Advisory is delayed this week because updated CDC COVID data wasn’t available late Monday because of the federal holiday,” the department posted on social media. “Once the most recent data is available, the travel advisory will be updated later today (Oct. 12) or Wednesday (Oct. 13).”

The advisory, updated weekly, dropped last week to 47 states and three territories, as Connecticut was removed from the city’s warning list, officials announced.

The city’s health department said Connecticut saw its daily case rate drop below the threshold for being on the travel advisory and stay below that threshold for two straight weeks.

Connecticut, California and Puerto Rico were the only locations not on the city’s advisory during the last update. Officials noted, however, that the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, and Louisiana were close to coming off the list.

States are added to the advisory’s “orange list” when COVID metrics rise above the threshold of 15 cases per day per 100,000 people. Any below that mark are on the “yellow” list, with public health officials still warning against non-essential travel.

“If you are traveling, whether you are vaccinated or unvaccinated – especially if you are unvaccinated – please do not take COVID lightly,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a statement. “We still have a long way to go before we can all confidently travel safely throughout the country. COVID is a threat to everyone – but the threat is reduced tremendously if you are vaccinated.”  

States and territories currently on the advisory include: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, District of Columbia, Guam and the Virgin Islands.  

Just before the Labor Day, the city updated its guidance for what unvaccinated travelers visiting or returning from such locations should do, adding new testing and quarantining recommendations before and after travel.

According to the city, before travel, unvaccinated individuals should:

  • Get tested 3-5 days prior to departure.

While traveling:

  • ALL individuals regardless of vaccination status should wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and while indoors at U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.
  • In Chicago, wear a mask in all indoor public settings, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Avoid crowds, try to stay at least 6 feet/2 meters (about 2 arm lengths) from anyone who is not traveling with you, and wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).

 After travel, unvaccinated individuals should:

  • Get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after travel AND stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days.
  • Even if you test negative, stay home and self-quarantine for the full 7 days.
  • If your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected.
  • If you don’t get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel.
  • Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, whether you get tested or not.

The city advised all travelers to monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms and isolate and get tested if they develop any after travel.

“We have seen and know that travel is a significant risk factor for acquiring COVID,” Arwady said. “If you decide not to get tested, the recommendation is actually to stay home and self quarantine for 10 days after travel, and you should avoid being around anybody who has an increased risk for severe COVID outcomes for 14 days after travel regardless of whether you get tested or not. Obviously we want anybody who’s traveling to self monitor for COVID symptoms and get tested if you develop symptoms.”

This week’s update to the travel advisory comes at a time when the average daily number of new cases in Chicago is down to 352 per day – remaining flat from the previous week.

That figure is still much higher than the low of 34 the city saw in late June but remains lower than the more than 700 cases per day the city was seeing during the most recent surge earlier this year.

Hospitalizations in Chicago are down 16% from the previous week, and deaths are down 46% from the week prior, per the city’s data. The positivity rate in testing is down to 2.2% this week, a drop from 2.3% in the last week.

Arwady noted last month that about 99% of new COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths are among unvaccinated individuals.

The travel advisory is updated every Tuesday, with any changes taking effect the following Friday.

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Travel rule change delayed by lateral flow test shortage

“Travellers need a testing system they can rely on, meaning that tests are easy to access, affordable, and that they will receive a reliable service from their provider. The government must ensure that any changes to the system – including replacing PCR tests with lateral flow tests – ensure this”.

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Passport delayed? 5 places you can travel without one.

Cruise ships are starting to venture out again from the United States. On “closed-loop” cruises, which start and end at the same U.S. port and visit locations including Alaska, the Bahamas, Mexico and the Caribbean, travelers don’t need a passport — though cruise lines recommend having one. For those who don’t have a passport, other forms of identification, including a government-issued photo ID for anyone older than 16 and a certified birth certificate, are needed. Some Caribbean islands could require a passport to enter, so passengers should make sure they know what is expected at each stop.

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Hong Kong travel bubble likely delayed, new restrictions

A woman jogs past a cordoned off Merlion Park on June 12, 2020 in Singapore.

Suhaimi Abdullah | Getty Images

SINGAPORE — Singapore’s government said Friday it’s “very likely” that the air travel bubble with Hong Kong will not begin on May 26, as the Southeast Asian city-state further tightens measures to curb a rise in local Covid cases.

The air travel bubble would have allowed travelers to skip quarantine. It has faced multiple delays from its initial launch date on November 2020 as Hong Kong reported resurgence in Covid-19 cases.

Both Singapore and Hong Kong are major Asian business hubs without domestic air travel markets. Their tourism and aviation industries, heavily reliant on international travel, have been badly hit by the pandemic.

Singapore’s Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said Hong Kong is “a very safe region” now, with few new Covid cases detected daily. However, infections in Singapore have been climbing, he added.

Ong said he’s spoken with Edward Yau, Hong Kong’s secretary for commerce and economic development, about the Covid situation in Singapore. Both sides will make a decision early next week on whether to go ahead with the air travel bubble launch, said Ong.

Singapore tightens restrictions

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