If you've got a ticket to fly on Delta Air Lines today — or any time this week — here's hoping there's some wiggle room in your plans and some understanding hotels, cruise lines, and rental car agents in your itinerary.
The Atlanta-based airline announced it has canceled at least 300 flights today — and delayed numerous others — as a result of a worldwide computer glitch the carrier is blaming on a power outage in Atlanta that affected check-in systems, the airline's website, its smartphone app and other systems.
The outage began at 2:38 a.m. ET and lasted six hours.
Recovery from the glitch is going to take much longer than six hours as travelers try to make new arrangements and wait for airline customer service agents at airports, online and on the phone to find ways to deliver delayed passengers to their destinations.
Delta has issued an apology to travelers and offered details about refunds and change fee waivers.
Passengers holding tickets for any flight on Delta Air Lines today, August 8, are permitted change-fee waivers if they get their ticket reissued on or before August 12 for travel that begins no later than August 12.
The waiver policy in place also states that passengers who choose to rebook their tickets for trips that begin after August 12 will still be able to avoid a change fee, but a difference in air fare may be applied.
For those whose Delta flights have already been cancelled or delayed, travel experts urge both quick action — and patience.
The good news, said Rick Seaney of FareCompare, is that while Delta's cancellations are "starting to rack up" — 300 domestic and international canceled flights as of Monday morning, including flights on regional carriers — the number is still "fairly small" compared to the overall flights Southwest Airlines had to cancel as the result of its system wide glitch last month.
But that's little consolation for those with plans disrupted by Delta flights, and flights on Delta regional carrier that are canceled or delayed today.
"If, for whatever reason you don't want to use a non-refundable fare because of a cancellation or delay today, now is your chance to ditch the trip," said George Hobica of Airfarewatchdog, "You can ask for a full refund of your fare now."
For those who do want to use their tickets, Hobica notes that "stranded passengers do not get priority over those whose flights were not affected. They just have to wait."
He suggests asking Delta to put you on another airline, although "chances of that are slim because seats on other airlines are scarce this time of year and especially on a Monday."
Getting rebooked on a new Delta flight today might be tough, said Hobica, "Because we are still in a peak vacation period. And even if people can get on a rebooked Delta flight in the next day or two, "a lot of people will be losing out on vacation days and pre-paid hotels, cruises and tours," he said.
For those whose plans are disrupted, Hobica suggests contacting the credit card company you used to pay for your flight or holiday to see if they include some sort of insurance in the case of a delay.
"It may not be much, but it could help," said Hobica. "Maybe $300-$500 for 'equipment failure' is a covered hazard. If you bought some other type of travel insurance, there may be some help there too."
And, he suggests that travelers inconvenienced in any way by Delta's glitch "wait until the dust settles and then write a polite letter to Delta customer service. Ask for some sort of compensation such as a voucher good for future travel, or a couple thousand frequent flier miles."