Covid Resource Center
Have you ever booked a flight only to find out later that it was delayed, or worse–canceled?
You’re not alone. In only a single month of 2016, over 120,000 travelers were affected by canceled flights out of London Heathrow. Due to a problem with the baggage system, customers were left stranded in the airport for days, many having to cancel their holidays.
Unfortunately for everyone involved, solving a logistical mess like this is not easy. More passengers end up stuck due to overbooking and strict airline schedules, which can mean if you miss your original flight, you could be waiting a while for another one.
Even as a seasoned traveler, I’m not immune to the effects of system delays. On a recent trip, I was notified via email and text alert by United Airlines that the first leg of my three-flight journey was going to be delayed, causing what is called a “misconnect.”
There was no need to panic. I simply used the following three steps to make sure I still got to my final destination on time:
The first thing to always do when traveling is to familiarize yourself with the contract of carriage for your particular airline. Different airlines have different rules around what they will cover in the event of a delay or cancellation, and even what the very definition of “cancel” or “delay” is.
In the instance of my United flight, a mechanical delay was causing the issue. This afforded me multiple options, including the right to ask United to book me on another airline if a seat in the same class of service is available.
A great source of finding updated Contracts of Carriage for your airline in plain text can be found on Airfare Watchdog.
Once you know the general framework, you can now start to get creative on how to get to your final destination. Before talking to the airline, come up with another way for you to get there.
Is there another flight on your airline that will work? Maybe there’s a different airport you wanted to fly into or out of. Here’s your chance to do the legwork to find a brand new itinerary.
In my case, after a quick scan of flights, I found that while there was no way for me to make either of my next two legs due to the delay, there was a completely different itinerary I could take that would get me to my final destination only half an hour later.
A great tool for this is Tripit Pro. It also has the bonus feature of letting you know ahead of time when your flights are going to be delayed, before even the airlines send out the memo.
I cannot stress this enough–do not wait until you are at the airport to handle any issues. There are a limited number of agents at the airport and a large number of passengers. If you wait until you arrive, you may lose the possibility of your newly found itinerary.
The majority of the time, if you call up the airline already having done the research to find new flights that work for you, they’ll be appreciative and book you on whatever it is, no matter if that flight cost $1,500 to your $99 basic economy ticket.
You’re doing them a favor by being polite and helpful. So, of course, remember to be polite and helpful, and don’t panic.
While I was waiting politely on the phone for my rebooking, the agent apologized to me multiple times and managed to snag me the last bulkhead seat available on my international flight at no extra charge.
If you can’t find an alternative, and you are stuck at the airport, there are still things that can help. Airlines offer differing amounts of monetary and other compensation depending on where you’re flying in and out of, and depending on the type of delay, your credit card may as well.
Refund.me is a service that helps passengers on flights to and from the EU claim compensation from delayed and canceled flights.
While things turned out OK for me, for many other passengers on my flight trying to make connections it wasn’t so rosy–they ended up with an unplanned overnight in our connecting city. The airline provided hotel vouchers for them and rebooked them for the next day.
However, with these tips, you can slide through any delay like a pro, and avoid having to wait it out for days at the airport.
When Julia Cheek founded Everlywell in June 2015, she was, by her own estimation, “perhaps the least qualified person to start a health care startup.” And yet, as her Austin-basedat-home lab testing companyapproaches its fifth anniversary, she finds herself overseeing a staff of about 100 people, providing home tests for allergies, food sensitivities, thyroid conditions, and, as of May 2020, Covid-19. The company raised $50 million in its last round of funding and was listed at No. 3 on the Inc. 5000 regional ranking for Texas this year.
In anInc. Real Talk: Business Rebootlivestream, Cheek, 36, spoke withInc. editor-at-large Tom Foster and took questions from viewers.Their conversation ranged fromhelping her team cope with quarantine to making big decisions. Here are some highlights.
In May, Cheek and her board decided to give away $1 million to labs across the U.S.to help them develop a working test for Covid-19. For a startup still counting every dime, it wasn’t an easy check to write.However, Cheek saysthey made the decision quickly. “It took about an hour,” she says. “It was one of the fastest and easiest decisions made in the history of the company.”
She knew that funding those labs would speed up development of an at-hometest. She also had to make decisions internally to offset that cost while doing everything possible to maintain head count. That meant scaling back every discretionary dollar her team could find–Goodbye, office coffee!–in order to do the right thing and keepher team. “I wanted to protect as many jobs as possible,” she says.
“It was the right decisionmade at the right time,” she says now. A month later, she’s hiring.
When asked how she deals with the challenges of running a companyfrom home (with a new baby) as well as whilewitnessing the protests in the streets, Cheek was quick to stress the importance ofmakingsure her colleagues are able to cope. “I worry like a mom about every one of our team members,” she says. That means asking herself how her team is doing all the time and asking herselfhow she can make their days better. Sometimes that means encouraging them to disconnect from Zoom or other digital platforms and take care of themselves. “Our primary focus is: What does every employee need for their mental health?” she says.
As for her own self care, she’sbeen developingwellness routines, including taking many meetings while walking and doing her best to separate her home workspace from the rest of her house.
Cheek spoke at length about the difficulties she encountered while seeking funding as a female founder, despite the fact that she went to Harvard Business School and had a strong network.
“It was hard for me,” she says. “So you can imagine how hard it is for people of color, especiallywomen of color. I heard a lot of noes. What I learned is that it only takes one yes.” Among those yeseswas one on-air boost from Shark Tank‘s Lori Greiner, which doubled Everlywell’s sales overnight.
Ultimately, Cheek says, people needto talk about funding obstaclesopenly and honestly and encourage entrepreneursand investors to confront theirbiases. “It’s important that founders hear stories and become part of the solution,” she says.
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