Frightful flights and traumatic travel

3 min read
February 15, 2017

15/02/17 Getaway! Dealing with difficult flights

Of all the complaints that the Resolver team helps sort out, the biggest number are about of flight delays.

Flight delays can be caused by lots of problems – anything from sudden snowstorms, foggy mornings or even the occasional disobedient volcano. But if you’re raring to go on holiday – or you’re ready to go home – flight delays are certainly frustrating.

Last year we helped nearly 120,000 people sort out problems with flights

Some of the reasons can be a bit strange. No-one wants to hear the word ‘mechanical problem’ before they get on a plane but this is one of the more common answers for a delay. And then there are the things that can’t be avoided, like the couple I spoke to in New York last year who were stranded at JFK airport with three very young children and charity shop clothes after their baggage went missing (and still is, they tell me) and their passports and wallets were stolen.

Not all the problems we see are as dramatic as that, but last year we still helped nearly 120,000 people sort out problems with flights and a further 4,500 who’d hit a problem with their travel agent. Of course, most reasons for flight delays aren’t the fault of the airline at all. But if the delay is as a result of their error, you might be able to claim a refund.

We’ve also been working with the airlines and airports to share your stories so they know more about the things that you find annoying when waiting for the all clear for take-off.

Here are my top tips on how to stay calm should things go wrong when you get airside:

  • Get insured: A surprisingly large number of people travel without insurance. From missing baggage to delayed flights, it’s cover you can’t afford to travel without. Make sure you start the policy now, not just before you travel. That way you can avoid getting caught out cancellation costs. You can complain to Resolver about insurance problems too.
  • Be realistic: Most flight delays aren’t the fault of the airline. So you won’t be covered for things the airline can’t control. But if your flight is delayed for over 3 hours then you may be able to make a claim. Check out Resolver’s guide at
  • Keeping the kids calm: Keeping the kids occupied if you’re delayed can be stressful. Take some disposable items like colouring books to keep them occupied so you’re not weighed down before you board.
  • Planning ahead: Make sure you’ve got some flexibility built in with your booking with your hotel too. Call ahead and confirm your booking and write down their contact details, just in case. If you’re not booking a hotel as part of a package, then make sure you’ve checked out the cancellation policy before you book – and book directly from the hotel if you can.
  • Expect the unexpected: So you look at the baggage carousel desperately after everyone else has gone, but your luggage is missing. What next? Well, your insurer should be able to help with an emergency payment but avoid the holiday being ruined by having emergency cash. Take a credit card specifically for holidays (don’t use it the rest of the time – lock it in a drawer!) That way you’ve got access to funds if there’s a problem. 

For more information, see our page on Flight Delays.

If you’ve got a holiday horror story you’d like to share contact me at @resolvercouk or go to

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