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Flight Management

Flights: Delays and Cancellations

Education abroad in UgandaThe following information is a collection of recommendations on the best steps a resident director can take when a group flight scheduled by Uniglobe is delayed or canceled. Students will look to you for guidance; please maintain a calm, professional demeanor. It is important to understand every situation is unique. There is a difference between a flight delay and a flight cancellation, and the appropriate steps are separated into those two factors:

  1. Airline’s fault = (usually) just your flight is affected.
  2. Not the airline’s fault = (usually) every flight at the airport is affected.

If the cancellation is the airline’s fault (mechanical issue, lack of a crew, etc.), then you should be prepared to be firm but polite when speaking with the airline representative at the boarding gate. (TIP: if there is a huge line at your gate, go to another gate for the same airline. Any gate agent for the same airline can help you.) You should explain you are the group leader of a university education abroad program, and they need to do whatever possible to get the group to their destination due to the program schedule being based on their on-time arrival at the destination. If the airline representative indicates there are no other flight options, you should remind the agent that, because this was an airline-related cancellation, the agent is required to make every attempt to endorse the group on another airline. This is a common remedy that the airline agent may not immediately offer because they would prefer to have you stay on their airline.

If the cancellation is not the airline’s fault (weather, lack of a crew due to weather, airport equipment malfunction, etc.), you are likely to encounter a “you’ll just have to wait” attitude from airline agents. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot that can be done differently. If an airport is shut down by weather (a control tower fire, an Icelandic volcano, etc.), there are thousands of people at the same airport in the same situation as your group.

In both of these scenarios, the best advice is for you to get in the shortest line you can find and phone your education abroad coordinator, if it is during business hours (Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.). Please see the After Hours section if applicable. Your education abroad coordinator will contact Uniglobe so they can work on a solution for the group. Once you get to the front of the line, Uniglobe can then determine if the most expedient solution will be for you to work with the airline agent or if the education abroad coordinator and Uniglobe can provide a resolution. By approaching the problem this way, we are simultaneously working the two best avenues to fix the problem. Whichever avenue produces a solution quickest is almost always the best, and it is important to let your education abroad coordinator/Uniglobe know the moment you begin a conversation with the airline agent. If the airline agent attempts to enter the record at the same time a Uniglobe agent is in the record, it creates chaos. If the airline representative is willing to help, which is always best, then the Uniglobe agent needs to be told to get out of the record immediately.

If suitable alternate flight arrangements cannot be made, then lodging in that city will likely be required. Please refer to the Securing Accomodations/Alternative Arrangements During a Group Flight Delay/Cancellation section below.

Flight Delay

Buckeye Pride at the Colosseum in RomeA flight delay is considered a smaller problem than a cancellation but can be significantly more aggravating. As with a cancellation, the reason for the delay can either be the airline’s fault or not the airline’s fault. Many times, a delay will start out as only a few minutes, only to become several hours. Unfortunately, too often the announcement of the longer delay comes after it is too late to make other arrangements. It is good practice to communicate with the airline gate agent when a delay is first announced to determine the “severity” of the reason for the delay.

The agents are trained to say just enough to get you away from the counter, without being too specific. If you explain that you are leading a group of college students on an education abroad program and the importance of making your next connection, a lot of times they will give you a more in-depth answer as to how long they expect the delay to be. If they believe the delay to be long enough to cause the group to miss their connection, the agent can immediately start investigating alternate flight options. If the delay occurs during business hours, this would also be the time to contact your education abroad coordinator and Uniglobe to discuss if changes need to be made to the in-country portion of the trip.

After Hours

If you experience a delay or cancellation outside of OIA’s business hours, you should follow all of the above advice but call the Uniglobe dedicated after hours agent at 855-365-9185 instead of your education abroad coordinator. You should also call the Ohio State 24/7 emergency phone 614-292-6677 to provide an update on the status of the group’s new flight itinerary.

Securing Accommodation/Alternative Arrangements During a Group Flight/Cancellation

If suitable alternate flight arrangements cannot be made, then lodging in that city will likely be required. Typically the cancellation or delay would need to be overnight and/or 12 hours for the airline to offer accommodation. If the cancellation is the airline’s fault, then you should request the airline pay for the hotels.

If the group is delayed overnight in Columbus (before departing), students who have local housing are permitted to do so and return the next morning for the flight. If students do not have accommodations or if the overnight delay is in another U.S. city or abroad and the cancellation is not the airline’s fault, you and your education abroad coordinator should begin the process of securing a nearby hotel by:

  • Calling the Ohio State 24/7 emergency number: 614-292-6677. The first responder will contact Uniglobe, who will then be directly in touch with the resident director.
  • You should be prepared with the gender breakdown and number of rooms required for your group. Students of the same gender should be placed in a shared room (one student per bed). If there are multiple resident directors of the same gender, they should share a room as well.
  • Uniglobe will make every effort to secure a hotel with an airport shuttle. If this is not possible, you should use your GET card funds to pay for taxis for the group.
  • Students are responsible for covering their own meals during a delay/cancellation. If the group is placed in a hotel where dining is not convenient, the first responder may be able to authorize delivered food (e.g. pizza).

If the group is significantly delayed/canceled in a U.S. connecting city within driving distance to Columbus on their return, it may be more practical to have a private coach arranged by Uniglobe to take the group back to Columbus instead of lodging in a hotel and having the group split up on multiple flights the next day. You or the education abroad coordinator should inquire about this possibility by:

  • Calling the Ohio State 24/7 emergency number: 614-292-6677. The first responder will contact Uniglobe who will then determine if a private coach is feasible and advisable. Either Uniglobe or the first responder will communicate the decision and next steps to you.

Students are responsible for covering their own meals during a delay/cancellation. The education abroad coordinator will notify the students’ emergency contact about the alternative transportation plans.

Important Reminders

  • You should not rent vehicles or permit the rental of vehicles to be used in lieu of university-organized transportation.
  • You should not permit students to leave the airports during delays, even if they are significant.