Flight delays, cancellations: what passengers need to know

Passengers left stranded by the storms pelting Johannesburg should be aware that airlines are not obligated to accommodate them at hotels, nor cover the cost of their meals, while they wait for the their travel to be rearranged.


Responding to reports of flights to and from OR Tambo International being delayed or cancelled as a result of the wet weather, Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG), South Africa’s largest travel company, advises anyone travelling to contact their airline to confirm travel as well as obtain any applicable cancellation and re-booking procedures. 


Kim Taylor, FCTG’s Customer Care Leader, warns that because delays or cancellations as a result of poor weather are considered outside of the airline's control, they are not liable to cover the costs for accommodation and food of passengers stranded by cancelled or delayed flights.


She says it is the airline’s discretion to determine which costs they will cover.


Taylor says airlines will generally endeavour to accommodate stranded travellers on the next available flight.  ​


Travellers who miss onward journeys as a result of delayed or cancelled flights may be responsible for rearranging their travel at their own cost – depending on whether their trip was booked as a through fare or two completely separate flights.


​“It is always highly recommended that your flights are confirmed as a through fare, as the airline will generally make all necessary amendments to your original departure as well as all onward flights affected. Should travel have been confirmed on separate tickets, the passenger will generally be responsible for the costs to amend their onward flights,” says Taylor. ​


She advises that passengers not simply opt to not travel to the airport in the event of a severe storm or as a result of reports that flights are being suspended due to poor weather.


“It is strongly​ recommended that you contact the airline or your travel agent to confirm whether travel is to proceed or not.​ S​hould you fail to arrive at the airport and check in for your flight​, you will be deemed​ as a no-show by the airline ​should the flight depart. A new ticket will need to be purchased at the passengers cost,” she says.


She advises travellers to visit http://www.airports.co.za/ to check on the status of flights.


“We also recommend that passengers track their flight on the airline's website.​ If passengers are already at the airport, it is imperative that they pay attention to the airport boards which are updated at all times with flight information, and may also alert passengers to sudden cancellations, delays or boarding gate changes.


“We recommend contacting the airline or your travel agent. The majority of airlines are liaising with customers via SMS or email, so we recommend that customers pay attention to alerts via their smart device. We also strongly recommend that passengers allow themselves sufficient time to travel to the airport of departure due to unpredictable conditions on the road.​


​“Passengers who opt to amend or cancel their travel as they do not feel comfortable travelling in the current weather conditions will generally be liable to cover the costs of any date change or cancellation penalties,” says Taylor.


Any passengers requiring advice can also contact their local Flight Centre Travel Expert.


For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Lee-Ann Collingridge at lee-ann@flowsa.com or 072 125 2826