You know the scene well. The crowded airport, you’ve just made it through the TSA security checkpoint with two kids in tow. You were pulled aside for the obligatory pat down because you were randomly chosen.

Even though it didn’t feel like random. You spouse is holding the hand of your two-year-old daughter on their right and has your ten-month-old boy wrapped in an iron grip on their left hip because he’s decided he needs his mommy now. His voice is reaching the pitch and decibel of a fervent choir boy singing hymns in hell. To say you are a bit harried is a gross understatement.

Now you’ve stopped to get the kids a treat that’s worth a fortune and they’ll consume within seconds and you’re almost to the area where you’ll board the plane, breathe a sigh, and begin that vacation you’ve both been working all year to take.

Overhead, the airline attendant’s cheerful voice crackles through the speaker, “Welcome to XYZ airlines, unfortunately, flight 321 has been cancelled. Those passengers who will be affected, please go to Gate such and such to coordinate another flight.” You hear that sickly-sweet voice as the attendant finishes, “We’re sorry for the inconvenience and thank you for flying with us!” It makes you want to go brush your teeth before you get a cavity.

You look at your spouse and feel your insides turn to a pile of pulsing disappointment. You spouse asks, “What? Why did they cancel? What are we gonna do?” At that moment, your ten-month-old grabs a fistful of dark brown hair on your daughter’s head and yanks down, hard. She takes a deep breath and whoops a scream that would win the title role of first female victim of a horror movie.

You put your head in hands and wonder the same thing yourself, “Why did this happen? What are we going to do?”

Here are three reasons why flights get cancelled and what you can do about it.

Crew Duty Time Expired

In 2014, new rules went into effect that governed the about the amount of time flight crews can work. This is a legitimate issue. Prior to that, the time flight crews were required to continuously work without rest was capped at 16 hours.

Now, crews are limited to working 9 to 14 hour days. I don’t know about you, but I personally want my pilot and flight crew to be fresh, alert, and attentive to every single tiny thing that might go wrong on a plane. I certainly wouldn’t want Jane or Joe Pilot to be bleary eyed and exhausted at the tail end of a tense 16-hour work day. Nor would I want Jim or Jill flight mechanic going through pre-flight checks with just caffeine to keep them alert. While the rule can be inconvenient to passengers, like the above family, if it were me, I would be much more patient and understanding.

The Aircraft is Unserviceable

If the plane I’m about fly in going 500 plus miles per hour and the crew finds out that it can’t be serviced appropriately, I’m going to want to find another plane that can be serviced and flies perfectly.

A friend of mine recently experienced a two-hour flight where ninety minutes of it was extreme turbulence. She and her fiancé got off the plane, ran to the bathroom and got sick, then had to sit for another fifteen minutes just to get their bearings. She said at one point, when the plane dropped, all the passengers screamed. She said she cried because she swore they were going to die.

They didn’t because that plane was serviced and handled the turbulence as it was supposed to. It didn’t break apart in midair. I’m sure the pilots had a huge role in keeping them safe too. Probably because they’d been rested.

Weather related problems

We’ve all been stuck in airports because a blizzard, hurricane, tornado, or other natural disaster has decided to ruin our flight. It’s not fun and, at times, can be a real nightmare. Traveling during any season can cause a flight to be canceled.

A friend lives in Arizona, and summer means flights will be canceled or delayed if the temperature gets to 125 degrees or above. Every season has its weather-related problems and airlines are at the mercy of fickle nature and we all know how that can turn out.

What you can do about it

Flight delays and cancellations happen all the time and for many different reasons. The best thing you can do about it is be prepared for it. Whatever the reason for cancelled flights, you can get refunds if you can be prepared by knowing the rules of your airline to get a refund and preparing for those times when you may have to stay overnight.

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