What to do if your flight is canceled

If your flight is canceled, most airlines will rebook you on the next available flight to your destination – as long as seats are available. Here are ways to know your rights and get rebooked as quickly as possible to your final destination.

It's an unpleasant feeling to pack your bags and head off to the airport only to find that your flight has been canceled when you arrive.

And while the entire situation is stressful and frustrating, there are some things you're entitled to, to make sure you do end up making it to your destination.

Then again, there are some things you are not entitled.

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What will happen when my flight gets canceled?

Have no fear: Most airlines will rebook you on the next available flight to your destination – as long as seats are available.

And according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, if your flight is canceled, and you choose to forgo the trip you had planned, you're entitled to a refund for any unused portion of your flight – even if the flight is non-refundable.

In addition, you're also entitled to get your money back for any bag fees or extras, such as a seat assignment.

Occasionally, an airline will also offer a voucher for future travel. But be very careful.

You'll want to ask the airline about any possible restrictions with the voucher – such as any blackout or expiration dates, booking requirements, or if there is a limit on the number of seats for which the voucher can be used.

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Can my airline put me on another airline if my flight is canceled?

Yes, but airlines are not required to do so.

Your best bet is to remain calm and speak nicely to the airline representative helping you and ask them if they can transfer your ticket to another airline that has a flight heading off to your destination with seats that are available.

You can also ask the airline or check online yourself to see if a different airline has open seats, and then ask for your ticket to be transferred. But remember, an airline is not required to do this. So if they tell you "no," you'll need to find another solution.

Also, remember that you won't be the only one doing this. So finding an open seat may be more complicated than it sounds, especially during the holidays.

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Is an airline required to provide you with a hotel room, food voucher, or other reimbursements for a canceled flight?

No.

Airlines are not required to provide you or other passengers with money or other compensation other than for the canceled ticket and the additional fees associated with it.

The USDOT says every airline has its own set of policies about what it will do for passengers affected by a canceled flight.

So, if your flight is canceled, ask the airline representative if they will pay for a hotel room or provide a food voucher. Some will, and some won't.

Is an airline required to provide compensation for canceled activities because of a canceled flight?

No.

If your canceled flight causes you to miss a family vacation, cruise, wedding or even lost wages, the airline is not required to provide you with compensation, unfortunately.

But that's where travel insurance comes into play.

Travel insurance is something you buy that can protect you from some financial risks and losses that can occur while traveling, according to Allianz Travel.

Those losses can be minor, like a late suitcase, or something more significant, like a canceled trip or emergency while you’re away.

But make sure to read the fine print when buying travel insurance to know what is - and isn't - covered.

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