How to handle flight delays on a business trip: 10 best tips

In this post, we've compiled helpful tips for you on what to do in the event of a flight delay, how to use your time most effectively, and what your rights are to compensation.

In this post, we've compiled helpful tips for you on what to do in the event of a flight delay, how to use your time most effectively, and what your rights are to compensation.

By Jessica Freedman

flight delays

Flight delays while traveling on a business trip are not only annoying, but also nerve-wracking. Meetings at your destination are often tightly scheduled, and the last thing you need is more hours at the airport without getting closer to your destination and the people you need to talk to. Now it’s time to stay calm.

We’ve put together an overview of what you need to know to make the best of the situation when a flight is canceled or delayed, to claim your possible compensation and get your money back. In our guide you will find everything you should consider. From keeping your receipts, to working on your laptop while you work, to tips for communicating with airlines via social media. Fingers crossed you arrive as quickly as possible at your destination!

1. Inform your colleagues of delayed flight

As soon as you’ve gotten wind that your flight will be delayed or you have missed a connecting flight, inform your colleagues in the office in order to rebook or cancel bookings and hotel rooms or to have them help you file a claim. You may also need to reschedule appointments with clients or companies. 

Make sure you always have the contact details of your colleagues and the people you have arranged to meet, so you can easily access all the necessary data. Keep your colleagues informed about your trip so they can be sure you are doing well and are always up to date.

airport traveler


2. Don’t panic, delayed flights happen

Flight delays happen more often than you think. Especially if your route takes you through busy airports like JFK, Chicago or Atlanta. Often, the plane can make up some time during the flight, especially when you’re traveling from the west to the east or to an international destination like the UK due to jet streams. 

But it’s best to plan ahead, and leave a few hours between your arrival at the airport and your first on-site appointment.  That way you can compensate for any flight delays and still have time to freshen up in your hotel room before you start the first meeting of the day. 

3. Take advantage of the delay to get work done

Traveling alone and thanks to a flight delay you suddenly have three hours more time in which no one can distract or disturb you? Then find a comfortable seat with Wi-Fi and a power outlet and do all the things you don’t have time for at work.

Many airports have so-called “quiet zones” where you can concentrate and work undisturbed. Airport cafes are also ideal as an “on the go” office, with the advantage that you don’t have to make the coffee yourself! Sometimes it’s also worth going to the gate early to get one of the coveted seats with a place to charge your phone, table or network connection.

4. Save your receipts, you may be eligible for compensation for a flight delay

Save any receipts from additional costs incurred as a result of a flight delay or cancellation. These may include restaurant bills, transportation or hotel costs. If your flight is delayed, the travel delay policy states that you are also entitled to some on-site services, such as the VIP lounge, or food and beverage. The exact details of what you are entitled to will depend on the extent of the delay. 

So, in order to be able to submit a full compensation claim and get these costs reimbursed as well, we recommend that you keep and scan all payment receipts.

Man in  business clothes sleeping on airport chairs on a layover

5. Catch up on sleep, business trips can be stressful

If you’re flying across multiple time zones on a business trip, it sometimes pays to sleep in advance to counteract jet lag a bit. Long-haul flights heading east often experience discomfort more than flights heading west, as the day is shortened for the body and it has difficulty falling asleep at the appropriate local time. 

But even if your destination isn’t that far away, it’s worth taking a little nap to prepare the body for the rigors of hour-long meetings, late nights and long business lunches.

6. Ask for help from the business travel experts

Of course, you can book your business trips completely on your own, but then you also have to take on the responsibilities of delayed flights on your own. Why now try an expert business travel management company like GetGoing? You can have access to expert business travel assistance around the clock. Plus, you can access a lot of deals and travel insights through the tool that you would have had to painstakingly research on your own.

When you book with GetGoing, you get more support when something goes wrong with your flights, and you don’t have to waste your valuable time fighting with airlines for your rights. For example, the consultants can help you rebook flights, and help you with any questions you may have. 

7. Ask to be re-routed via another city

If your flight is significantly delayed, it may make sense to get to your destination via a stopover. There may be suitable flights via a suitable airport, such as Newark, Atlanta, Chicago, Denver or JFK. On international flights and routes bound for Europe, the UK is a popular hub, as there are many connections to all kinds of countries. In the event of a significant flight delay, it is often worthwhile to choose a new flight with a stopover instead of waiting for the original flight route.

8. When possible, travel non-stop on a morning flight

Sometimes flying non-stop can be more costly, but when it comes to flight delays, not having to travel via another city cuts down on the length of your delay, and your itinerary being thrown off with a multi-stop itinerary.

When possible book on the first flight of the day. Just like having the first doctor’s visit of the day, the risk of delays when you’re the first one taking off are reduced. Did you know GetGoing allows you to filter your flight search favoring direct flights?

9. Choosing national airlines can sometimes be a safer bet

While sometimes delays cannot be expected, when in doubt choose a national airline like Delta Airlines or American Airlines, who in 2021 were among the five most punctual airlines, with 88.2% and 81.6% respective punctuality rates. Southwest Airlines, on the other hand, had a 70.4% rate and JetBlue, 64.5%. 

10. Know your rights in case of flight delay

In the European Union, if your flight is delayed for more than 2 hours, you are entitled to assistance and meals from the airline. In most cases, vouchers are issued that can be redeemed at the airport.  You are also entitled to make two phone calls and write two emails.

You are also entitled to compensation for a delay of more than three hours, unless the delay is due to extraordinary circumstances. 

If the flight cannot take off until the next day, you are entitled to hotel accommodation and round-trip transportation. And if the delay exceeds 5 hours, you can claim back the full ticket price or insist on a train ride or another flight.

What you need to know if your flight’s delayed on a business trip

If your flight’s delayed on a business trip. it’s important to know your rights; flight delay compensation is a real thing. While your business isn’t liable for flight delay compensation, you may be eligible for extra hour pay or to take comp time for the extra hours you traveled. It really depends on how your business travel program is set up. Smaller companies tend to be more lenient on this matter.

As for the airlines, regulations change depending on local legislation. In some cases, if your flight arrives after three hours you will start being eligible for compensation. It’s important to know that flight delay compensation is not automatic and you must contact the airlines or the airport for information about how to proceed with a claim. There are also special lawyers and companies who take care of flight delay compensation at minimum costs, taking just a percentage of your compensation.

Will the airline pay for a hotel if the flight is delayed in the US?

In the US, there are no federal laws requiring airlines to provide passengers with compensation or money when flights are delayed, it depends on each airline’s individual policy. The best thing to do is to check with airline staff to see if you are entitled to meals or a hotel room. In the case of a delay, you can try to arrange another flight but the best way to do this is via phone or social media. In some cases you may be entitled to a refund. 

What are some common reasons for flight delays?

The official reason for a flight delay can vary, and you won’t always get the true answer from the airlines. Exceptional circumstances in flight delays are, for example, severe weather, strikes, natural disasters and political unrest. The air carrier must be able to prove these, for example by means of excerpts from logbooks or event reports.

Who is liable for flight delays?

In the case of flight delays, the airline is generally liable, unless the delay is due to extraordinary circumstances. 

How is flight delay calculated in the EU?

According to the EU Air Passenger Rights Regulation, the calculation of compensation depends on the flight distance and the airline is liable for flight delays as follows: for short-haul flights up to 1,500 kilometers, you are entitled to 250 euros per person; for medium-haul flights between 1,500 and 3,500 kilometers, you are entitled to 400 euros per person; and for long-haul flights over 3,500 kilometers, you are entitled to 600 euros per person.

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