Flight Cancellations and Delays: Causes and how to deal…

Flight Cancellations and Delays: Causes and how to deal…

helen okpala airline

Before we begin to imagine how many people will travel by air this Christmas season, let’s consider this question: Have you ever experienced a delayed or cancelled flight, locally or internationally? Hmmm. You can never feel it except you have a meeting to catch up with same day of your flight. I have once had a bitter experience of a cancelled flight. That was in December 2016 during my trip for SAP training in Ghana. The reason for the to and fro cancellations (Enugu – Lagos) as they gave, was scarcity of aviation fuel. Till date, no refund from the airline, but then I guess it’s a policy thing. All they tell you is that you can still use the ticket within the space of one year. But this makes you force yourself on a journey you never planned, just to use the ticket. If only one could sell it to another….

I usually don’t read all those tiny long posts and I know most people don’t. This reminds me of the statement made by Prof. Charles Omekwu during his inaugural lecture at University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He talked about Cyberspace issues and mentioned that lots of Nigerians don’t read agreements before checking that tiny box. We all are in a hurry. But that’s by the way.

The annoying thing though, is that there is usually no prior notice via text nor email regarding the cancellations or delays. On the contrary, they send you messages alerting you to get ready for the flight. Once you arrive the airport, they tell you: THE FLIGHT HAS BEEN CANCELLED! In fact, at times, from delays to cancellations. It’s usually not funny. The most annoying thing is that they usually claim to have sent messages across to passengers. I have become tired of trying to make them put things right with their claims, as they keep putting it to passengers that they alerted everyone!

A post by Vanguard Online of July 17 2017 has it that:

“Flight cancellations and delays are now a norm among Nigerian airlines. Without providing information, they simply announce that your flight has been canceled or delayed. You are shocked and angry not because of the cancellation but due to the lack of courtesy for you and other customers. A good example is Medview Airline that canceled its flight from Nigeria to London thereby leaving many passengers stranded at the airport in both Nigeria and London. They did not make any provision for these passengers. Anyway, Jumia Travel, the leading online travel agency shares ways you can deal with flight delays and cancellation”. 

We all know that lots of top business and management officials travel by air for meetings, appointments and lots of official gatherings. Aside official travels, churches usually organise crusades and end of year gatherings which necessitates much travels. Shiloh 2017 just ended at Canaan Land and lots of journeys were made on air. University of Nigeria, Nsukka just concluded with her 47th Convocation Ceremonies which attracted lots of important people. But then the recent flight cancellations and delays commenced as the harmarttan breeze set in. But do we really have to blame this situation on the weather?

Interviewing lots of travelers from Enugu to Lagos, we found there were lots of cancellations due to poor weather. According to the report made on December 10 by Sahara Reporters,

“The recent cloudy and hazy harmattan weather has led to huge air flight cancellations and delayed among airlines in the country. This is as the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has called on all air travellers within the country to exercise restraint during the season marred by poor weather condition, which had in recent time hampered their travel plans. So far, flights to major parts of the northern state, especially to Kaduna, Sokoto, Dutse and Bauchi, have either been delayed or outrightly cancelled due to bad weather conditions caused by poor navigational equipment across the country. At the Lagos Airport, airlines to Kaduna and Ilorin could not fly as advertised as the weather conditions at those airports remain poor. The inability of the airlines to operate as scheduled, led to a massive disruption of passengers’ plans while some of them protested their delays and cancellations at the airports”.

One of our interviewees attested that part of the fault was that of the airline operators as they never gave updates to passengers. Some Enugu passengers had to be taken to Owerri Airport against their wish. This amounted to their boarding airport taxi to Owerri airport as a matter of urgency, just to catch Lagos flights. All at the expense of the passengers.

Enough long story told. Now, we are going to look at the causes of flight cancellations and delays as well as how to deal with such. Without going into details, here are some of the causes of air flight cancellations and delays:

    1. Weather Issues – thunderstorm, hurricane, etc.
    2. Late arrival of the aircraft to be used for the flight from a previous flight.
    3. Maintenance problems with the aircraft
    4. Fueling
    5. Late arrival of the aircraft to be used for the flight from a previous flight
    6. Power Outage – Surprisingly, the world’s busiest Hartsfield – Jackson Atlanta International Airport recently witnessed a power outage due to some fire incident. The report came from New York Times on Monday December 18, 2017 that:            “the Atlanta’s Airport has power again, but many passengers are stranded”. See pic below: 

      John Amis/Associated Press

Read this article for details

Learning how to deal with the above issues could be termed a virtue because it is not easy. A lot of people get mad at the airlines and the country as a whole. It’s really annoying when one has an interview or business meeting to catch up with. In fact, it has become risky to travel same day of transaction.

The solution to these hassles can be summarized thus:

  1. Don’t let out unnecessary anger at the airport: Knowing that there’s nothing the airline staff would do to help, no need wasting your energy expressing your anger. From the records, you can hardly hear ‘we are sorry’ from these people. All you may hear is: ‘we sent messages across’, bla bla bla. What could be more annoying than such false claim?
  2. Catch the available land flight to your destination – There are now some fast moving vehicles to major cities in Nigeria such as Autostar, God is Good, etc. You can quickly book these land flights (so called) to your destination or the nearest airport. On the other hand, you can use your private vehicle if you have one.
  3. Calmly make a Complaint to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) – At this point, do not say ‘afterall, this is Nigeria. Nothing will be done about this.’ The more they see people’s reports concerning an airline, the more they act. One thing I do not like doing is to make assumptions. Make an attempt before complaining.
  4. Seek Compensation: It is your money and time we are talking about here. So, don’t let it go.
  5. Make friends and network: At the point of flight delays and cancellations, your opportunity to make friends abound. Do not miss it! Always travel with your complimentary card.

Pheeeeeeew! That’s all I have for my readers this morning. I’ve got to fly to the office. It’s 7:50am already. You can comment in the box, your your own experiences. Don’t forget to also share this post on your social media platforms. Have a great day, peeps!

DISCLAIMER!  The aircraft picture on this post was designed using a picture editor. There is no such airline as Helen Okpala Airline. The picture was used for the purpose of this post only. 

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