Delayed flight? We know when to go to the airport

Delayed flight?  We know when to go to the airport

Passengers do not know how to behave when they receive notification of a later departure. Representatives of three popular airlines explain.

The suitcases are already packed, the taxi is waiting in front of the house, when suddenly you receive a notification from the carrier. It turns out that your flight will be delayed by at least two hours. What to do in this situation? Should I go back to my apartment or wait at the airport? We asked the most popular airlines about passenger rights and proper reactions in the event of information about a delayed take-off. The answers are surprising.

My flight is delayed

When traveling by air, we must remember many important elements. Just before departure, millions of questions and doubts run through our heads, especially if we fly relatively rarely. Is our passport still valid? Have we taken all the necessary items? What should we not put in our hand luggage and are we sure it is the right size? Although airlines try to make traveling easier for their customers, many travelers do not know how to behave in certain embarrassing situations. It turns out that this problem especially affects delayed flights.

Let's imagine this hypothetical situation: I am a passenger on an airline and I receive a notification that the flight will be delayed. What should I do in this case? Should I go to the airport on time compared to the original departure time, or should I be guided by the information about the delay and arrive at check-in appropriately later? The answers may vary depending on the airline.

Passengers have doubts

We were inspired to check what airlines say about delay notifications because of lively discussions among passengers on travel groups and online forums. It turns out that the regulations of the most popular European carriers do not specify how their customer should behave in such a case.

“I just received a text message from Wizz Air that my flight is delayed by two hours (I was supposed to fly from Madrid today at 2 p.m.). I also received the same notification by e-mail and in the Wizz app. Could any of you tell me how binding such messages are? With such a delay, I could easily go to the airport two hours later and skip the nervous wait, but on the other hand, I know at least one case, from a few years ago, when a plane from another airline, despite information about the flight cancellation, departed earlier,” writes one of the passengers on the hitchhikers or WE travel group. The answers are not clear – some people advise that the woman go to the airport later, while other commentators warn that this may result in not being able to pass through the security gates (the boarding pass will be inactive) or missing the plane altogether. What is it really like? We asked experts from three popular airlines in Poland – Wizz Air, Ryanair and LOT – for an explanation.

LOT plane delay. What to do?

“In LOT Polish Airlines, information about a delayed flight automatically reaches passengers and the passenger check-in system. We inform passengers about delays only when the flight cannot be performed as scheduled,” says the press office of the national carrier. In the case of Warsaw Chopin Airport, such a notification automatically postpones the departure schedule and check-in closing time, so showing up at the security check later should not cause us any problems. However, the situation may be different in other airports – here the carrier specifically points to the United States, Tokyo and Beijing.

“The next steps depend on the availability of handling agents' employees and infrastructure in a given port (check-in desks or baggage sorting facilities),” we read. Therefore, the Polish carrier recommends that passengers checking in checked baggage arrive at the airport within the time frame corresponding to the time of the scheduled flight (original departure time). If the traveler does not have a larger suitcase, he or she should go to the boarding desk at least an hour before departure and carefully follow the SMS messages in which the airline informs about changes in the expected delay. “The airport system should allow passengers of delayed flights to enter the security screening area without any problems. In case of any problems, please contact the airport staff,” experts say.

How to behave when a Ryanair flight is delayed?

Each airline has its own regulations, so we also asked Ryanair for clarification. Alicja Wójcik-Gołębiowska answered all difficult questions thoroughly. “With Ryanair it is always a good idea to stick to the original time. Generally, delay notices appear up to three hours after the original departure time. It is recommended that passengers are already at the airport at this time, it is always safer. (…) In your own interest, it is always worth showing up at the airport two or three hours before departure, checking in calmly or checking in your checked baggage,” says Wójcik, who has been Country Manager for CEE & Baltics since 2022.

The specialist points out that we are not always able to predict what the situation will be at the terminal. It may happen that, regardless of the information provided by Ryanair, there will be difficulties at the airport. Due to the delay, there may be long queues when passing through security. The time that someone could theoretically have saved will suddenly disappear. Alicja Wójcik-Gołębiowska also points out that information with a long delay is not likely to be transmitted suddenly, within two hours. Notifications about the new departure time, sent just before take-off, usually concern minor changes to the schedule. If we are already on our way to the airport, it is worth continuing the journey despite information about a delayed flight. “Generally, a push notification informing about potential delays is a kind of indication,” he adds.

Ryanair assures that there should be no problems with boarding passes in the event of a delayed flight. “The boarding pass works in this situation and there should be no problems with passing the check. However, remember that even the best technology may encounter some problems. If such a case arises, just ask the security person, show your ticket and explain that it is a plane that has just checked in,” the airline informs.

The informed passenger will not show up at the airport on time. Who is to blame?

What if a passenger decides to arrive at the airport later than the original departure time and the delay ends up being shorter, causing the traveler to miss their flight? Do such situations happen? Is the passenger responsible for not arriving at the airport on time? “Even if it is a longer delay, it is worth being at the airport because there may be an opportunity to depart sooner. The airline strives to depart on time. In the described situation, unfortunately, the responsibility lies with the passenger, who must be at the gate when the boarding procedure is initiated,” says a representative of Ryanair.

If it is not possible to travel on the original plane (for example, due to a prolonged repair of a fault), Ryanair may provide a new plane, and the boarding procedure will be initiated very quickly. “We really want to stay as close to the departure dates as possible so that travelers can move as quickly as possible. Let us remember that we cannot only think about the passengers who have to get to the airport, but also about those who are already at the airport. If we have the opportunity to provide a new plane, we do it as soon as possible. Then push notifications also appear, and information is displayed at the airport itself,” explains Alicja Gołębiowska-Wójcik.

Plane delay at Wizz Air

Wizz Air approaches the problem of delays in a similar way. “The check-in and baggage drop-off times remain the same regardless of flight delay (check-in starts 2 hours before and ends 40 minutes before the original departure time),” we read in the statement. The carrier does not specify how this situation changes if the passenger only has hand luggage, which happens very often in the case of low-cost airlines. However, it is not worth taking the risk, because “if a passenger tries to enter the airport by scanning a boarding pass with the date of a departure that has already taken place, it will not be possible,” says the carrier's press office. “However, this is not regulated by airlines – it may vary depending on the airport,” they add.

It seems that plane delay notifications are best thought of as an opportunity to grab an extra cup of coffee at the airport. While there are cases where passengers have saved time and not missed their flight by arriving at the airport later, there are just as many incidents that show just how risky this move can be. Is your plane delayed by an hour? For your own safety, get to the airport on time. If information about a change in departure time appears long before take-off and concerns a delay of many hours, try to contact customer service and follow the notifications and e-mails. Remember that if you miss your flight, you will face a long claims process, and your request for a refund for not showing up at the airport on time will probably be rejected. For peace of mind, it's better to wander in the duty-free zone for a longer time.

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