I've found the ways these things varies a lot based on various things. What airline is it? How long is the delay? Are you a frequent flyer on that airline? Do you complain effectively?
We were delayed six hours last summer in the airport in Atlanta. Our flight out was delayed because weather at the flight's starting area was poor and they had to delay takeoff. Our flight was among the first to be delayed. I went up to the customer service counter with a bottle of water for the customer service guy -lets face it, sucks to be them when everyone is tired, cranky, and trapped in cramped spaces in an airport - and walked away with meal vouchers and a voucher for a discount on our next travel. I know from watching I was one of the few to receive the meal vouchers, the only others I saw to receive on-the-spot meal vouchers were some first class passengers.
A couple of years ago, while in Oaxaca, our flight on Volaris (a vast time saver) to Toluca was not just cancelled, but the route eliminated entirely!
The agent on the phone offered us a trip to Tijuana then, I gess, to Toluca, at no extra charge, but I wasn't having any of that. I wanted a refund. He then described a complicated process in which I was to scan my passport, email the file, with a request for a refund. WTF?? You gotta be kidding me!
A friend suggested contacting the credit card company, and after some correspondence, we got a credit some 6 months later.
We just had our return flight from London of April 3 cancelled. We were offered alternate flights but the airline did not and will not compensate us in any way because it feels we have sufficient time to make arrangements. The big hitch is that we are now flying the partner airline (Air Transat aka Air Sardines) as opposed to Thomas Cook, which we've used in the past and find quite comfortable.
We're stuck now but won't be using them in the future. At least we're flying back one day later and not earlier. I would have got very ugly if my holiday had been shortened at all.
Sorry to read this Joanne, actually this is a fear for me. We have flown so many times without delays, cancellations or any problems at all. I am afraid that everything will happen on one trip..... Hoping you still have a great vacation. Remember to eat before boarding Air Transat, their meals have really gotten smaller and smaller through the years. Happy travels! Mich
My office life is an endless tunnel of refunding passengers for "flt canx" and "sked chg". Luckily, I just do the technical stuff and am not on the front line facing the passengers. It is awful, and my airline is particularly guilty of doing this for reasons that not even the employees understand. Don't worry about where I work, though, unless your travel plans include Manila, Jakarta, Chennai, Mumbai, Colombo, Singapore or Karachi.
I worked in a business that came up with new scanning codes for all kinds of delays. The Company got around the refund by stating on the bill of sale (that tiny writing on the back of receipts) that if scanned for any of the codes it presented the comany the right to refuse a refund.
Not being in Customer Service but in Operations, the arguments these new additional codes would cause in implementation meetings were embarassing. The company was not fair to our Customer Service Agents, they were put into impossible positions.
The experiences made me believe to not rely on a refund for anything in life and if you do happen to get one keep with the product, the company still has you as their focus. Cheers, Mich