Is It The Airline’s Duty To Contact Us About Flight Cancellations

flight cancellations
image: wikicommons: hotelstvedi

At the beginning of the month, Kim, Lucas and I got stuck in Orlando during our first trip of 2015. Our flight was cancelled due to a potential snow storm that was supposed to hit the NYC area on Super Bowl Sunday. From what friends told me, around the time our flight would’ve landed, the weather really wasn’t so bad…

Either way, I guess it’s better to be safe than take any chances flying into potentially bad weather.

The thing that bothered me most is that I got no notification from American Airlines about the cancellation.

I decided to call in to check for myself about the status of the flight and that is how I found out about the change. Had I know about the cancellation when the decision was made (who knows what time that was!), we could’ve planned our extra full day in Orlando more accordingly. Maybe we would’ve splurged and visited Epcot for the day.

It’s not like American doesn’t have my information stored in my AAdvantage account. They could’ve sent me an e-mail, texted or called me about the cancellation.

Maybe I am wrong and this is not their problem. I’d think it is since they made a judgement call in cancelling the flight.

I know a cancellation is a bit of a different situation than a flight delay but here are a couple of examples of airlines that notify you of changes.

Over the past few years, we’ve flown with Southwest a good number of times. Many of the flights have had short delays. Depending on the option I selected, Southwest either e-mailed or texted me to inform me of the change. I will say though that a few times I received the texts just as I was boarding the plane.

Next month we’ll be flying to Charleston with JetBlue. It turns out that our flight time has changed. I know the flight isn’t cancelled or delayed, it is a change in time. However, JetBlue sent out an e-mail to me a month before the flight.

Here is part of the e-mail:

flight cancellationsThey also provided my new flight itinerary in the message.

The big change to our flight is on the return. Our flight home will be leaving Charleston 15 minutes earlier than had originally been scheduled. Not a big deal or big difference, but it was still nice to be notified by the airline of the change.

What do you think- if the airline has your e-mail address and contact number listed with the booking, should it be their responsibility to let you know of a change or cancellation?

I’d give a definite yes.

With the technology available to us these days, sending an automated phone message or text shouldn’t be so hard to figure out. (Just don’t ask me. I am clueless when it comes to tech.)

7 thoughts on “Is It The Airline’s Duty To Contact Us About Flight Cancellations

  1. I had a flight with AA from Managua to LAX connecting through Miami. The first leg was in the early afternoon and the second was in the evening with a fairly short layover in between. The day before the flight I got an alert from TripIt that the flight time of the first leg had been moved forward several hours, leaving me no time to spend in Managua on the last day, which was unfortunate, but oddly enough AA also switched me to a later flight out of Miami, meaning a very large block of dead time in MIA. I never received any notification from AA directly if these changes. I had to call them and incur international roaming charges to change to an earlier connection. No explanation was given as to why or how TripIt got the info but no attempt to contact me was made or why I was put on a later connecting flight. I sent them a complaint upon my return and they gave me some miles for my troubles.

  2. I agree with your assertion that the airline should contact you. Ultimately, you have a contract with them for travel, and you understand that sometimes things occur beyond their control. I would think that if something occurs such that they have to breach their contract (e.g. ‘weather’), then they would be obliged to notify you that they can no longer fulfill their end of the contract.
    Simple and straightforward.
    If i get 10 spam emails a day, I would certainly hope that a status update/ cancellation on my $200 – $2,000 contract would also merit an email.

  3. Colleen- I totally agree that we should check on the status of a flight but should they not at least try to contact us? You do bring up a great point though. If they were to contact us or make the effort to, it would most likely be used against them in negative situations…

    Nathan Ess- How long of a delay did you end up having? Care to share what the compensation was?

    AndyTLe- Sounds like a great plan!

  4. On Delta, I’ve found it hit or miss on notification. So I check every so often and increase frequency as day of departure approaches.

  5. AA cancelled my flight around the same time and also failed to notify us, (nyc to mia) long story short after several rebookings and cancelations we made it to Florida. AA did compensate us for the numerous inconveniences.

  6. It’s my responsibility to check with the airlines about my flights. I trust ME to follow up far more than I’d trust THEM.

    I can see why they don’t operate the other way around. If they communicated updates to you, do you really think the airlines should then be responsible in the event you missed their communication? That would be a real mess. But we’d likely blame them.

    Personal responsibility is the best policy.

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